Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International



Home > Press > Good for groundwater – bad for crops? Plastic particles release pollutants in upper soil layers: The environmental geoscientists at the Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science (CMESS) focused on a variety of parameters that contribute to plastic pollution in far

The environmental geoscientists at the Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science (CMESS) focused on a variety of parameters that contribute to plastic pollution in farmland soils. They calculated for different scenarios whether nano- and microplastic particles transport pollutants to groundwater resources. The result shows: they do not.

CREDIT
( © Audrey Desaulniers, Orcéine, Montreal)
The environmental geoscientists at the Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science (CMESS) focused on a variety of parameters that contribute to plastic pollution in farmland soils. They calculated for different scenarios whether nano- and microplastic particles transport pollutants to groundwater resources. The result shows: they do not. CREDIT ( © Audrey Desaulniers, Orcéine, Montreal)

Abstract:
Pollutants enter agricultural soils with plastic particles
Wastewater and rivers carry microplastics into the oceans. Wind distributes the particles to the remotest parts of the earth. However, agriculture itself plays a far greater role in plastic pollution of agricultural land: fertilizers such as compost manure or sewage sludge and the remains of agricultural mulching foils carry large quantities of plastic particles, so-called macro-, micro-, and nanoplastics, onto agricultural land. According to current estimates, for example, with every kilogram of sewage sludge, up to 300,000 plastic particles end up on agricultural soils - and with them pollutants. "Plastic always contains so-called additives. These additives ensure certain properties, durability or even the colour of a polymer. In addition, contaminants such as pesticides or pharmaceutical residues may become adsorbed to the plastic particles," explains Stephanie Castan, lead author of the study and PhD student at the Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science (CMESS) at the University of Vienna.

Good for groundwater – bad for crops? Plastic particles release pollutants in upper soil layers: The environmental geoscientists at the Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science (CMESS) focused on a variety of parameters that contribute to plastic pollution in far

Vienna, Austria | Posted on September 17th, 2021

Common assumption that microplastics carry pollutants into groundwater challenged
"The plastic particles eventually release these pollutants into the environment. We were interested in when exactly they do so," adds Castan. The research team reviewed the common assumption that the plastic particles could transport the pollutants all the way to the groundwater - and they came to a clear conclusion: "Our calculations show that they generally don't do that," says Thilo Hofmann, head of the study and research group. "The pollutants remain in the upper layers of the agricultural soil because they are already released there by the polymers."

Calculation of transport and desorption time for different scenarios
Whether pollutants can migrate to groundwater by means of micro- and nanoplastics depends on whether the transport of the plastic particles through the soil layers is faster than the release (desorption) of the pollutants from these particles. For the study, the researchers therefore focused on these two key figures – the transport time and the desorption time – and calculated the so-called Damköhler number: the Damköhler number expresses the ratio of the two key figures. "In order to be able to make clear statements about the conditions under which plastic particles actually serve as transport facilitators for pollutants, we calculated the Damköhler number for two extreme settings – the usual agricultural soil and a more fractured rocky soil," reports Charlotte Henkel, co-first author of the study. "We also took into account different properties of plastics and contaminants."

Data show that plastic particles do not increase the mobility of pollutants
Comparing the calculated scenarios to measured data from literature, the researchers found no evidence that nano- and microplastics are significant carriers for pollutants. "The fact that plastic particles increase the mobility of pollutants in the soil is only plausible for very specific polymers and specific soil conditions, for example when soils are severely dried out and washed out by heavy rain," explains Thorsten Hüffer, environmental chemist and co-author of the study. Contamination of groundwater by this means is therefore unlikely, he says. "However, we are by no means saying that nano- and microplastics in agricultural soils are harmless," emphasises Thilo Hofmann, who, as head of the PLENTY research platform and the Environmental Research Network at the University of Vienna, promotes interdisciplinary research on plastics in the environment. "Rather, we are showing where the real problem of these pollutants bound to plastic particles lies: they do not end up in groundwater, but in the upper soil layers. Here, they can potentially be taken up by crops and microorganisms and subsequently also enter our food."

Follow-up study to clarify whether plants absorb pollutants from soil
The study thus provides good news for groundwater, but rather bad news for agricultural crops: The Environmental Geosciences team will conduct a follow-up study to determine whether crops can actually absorb the pollutants through the soil. In a laboratory beaker on her desk, Stephanie Castan is already growing three lettuce seedlings for the upcoming experiments.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Veronika Schallhart
University of Vienna

Office: +43-1-4277-175 30

Copyright © University of Vienna

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Publication in Communications Earth & Environment:

Related News Press

News and information

Intelligent optical chip to improve telecommunications: An INRS team uses autonomous learning approaches for optical waveform generators to boost optical signal processing functionalities for current and future telecom applications October 15th, 2021

Using quantum Parrondo’s random walks for encryption: Asst Prof Kang Hao Cheong and his research team from SUTD have set out to apply concepts from quantum Parrondo’s paradox in search of a working protocol for semiclassical encryption October 15th, 2021

Cellular environments shape molecular architecture: Researchers glean a more complete picture of a structure called the nuclear pore complex by studying it directly inside cells October 15th, 2021

How to program DNA robots to poke and prod cell membranes: A discovery of how to build little blocks out of DNA and get them to stick to lipids has implications for biosensing and mRNA vaccines October 15th, 2021

Possible Futures

Using quantum Parrondo’s random walks for encryption: Asst Prof Kang Hao Cheong and his research team from SUTD have set out to apply concepts from quantum Parrondo’s paradox in search of a working protocol for semiclassical encryption October 15th, 2021

Cellular environments shape molecular architecture: Researchers glean a more complete picture of a structure called the nuclear pore complex by studying it directly inside cells October 15th, 2021

How to program DNA robots to poke and prod cell membranes: A discovery of how to build little blocks out of DNA and get them to stick to lipids has implications for biosensing and mRNA vaccines October 15th, 2021

Molecular Sciences Software Institute receives $15 million grant from National Science Foundation October 15th, 2021

Discoveries

Intelligent optical chip to improve telecommunications: An INRS team uses autonomous learning approaches for optical waveform generators to boost optical signal processing functionalities for current and future telecom applications October 15th, 2021

Using quantum Parrondo’s random walks for encryption: Asst Prof Kang Hao Cheong and his research team from SUTD have set out to apply concepts from quantum Parrondo’s paradox in search of a working protocol for semiclassical encryption October 15th, 2021

Cellular environments shape molecular architecture: Researchers glean a more complete picture of a structure called the nuclear pore complex by studying it directly inside cells October 15th, 2021

How to program DNA robots to poke and prod cell membranes: A discovery of how to build little blocks out of DNA and get them to stick to lipids has implications for biosensing and mRNA vaccines October 15th, 2021

Announcements

Using quantum Parrondo’s random walks for encryption: Asst Prof Kang Hao Cheong and his research team from SUTD have set out to apply concepts from quantum Parrondo’s paradox in search of a working protocol for semiclassical encryption October 15th, 2021

Cellular environments shape molecular architecture: Researchers glean a more complete picture of a structure called the nuclear pore complex by studying it directly inside cells October 15th, 2021

How to program DNA robots to poke and prod cell membranes: A discovery of how to build little blocks out of DNA and get them to stick to lipids has implications for biosensing and mRNA vaccines October 15th, 2021

Molecular Sciences Software Institute receives $15 million grant from National Science Foundation October 15th, 2021

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers/Posters

Intelligent optical chip to improve telecommunications: An INRS team uses autonomous learning approaches for optical waveform generators to boost optical signal processing functionalities for current and future telecom applications October 15th, 2021

Using quantum Parrondo’s random walks for encryption: Asst Prof Kang Hao Cheong and his research team from SUTD have set out to apply concepts from quantum Parrondo’s paradox in search of a working protocol for semiclassical encryption October 15th, 2021

Cellular environments shape molecular architecture: Researchers glean a more complete picture of a structure called the nuclear pore complex by studying it directly inside cells October 15th, 2021

How to program DNA robots to poke and prod cell membranes: A discovery of how to build little blocks out of DNA and get them to stick to lipids has implications for biosensing and mRNA vaccines October 15th, 2021

Environment

Researchers reveal multi-path mechanism in electrochemical CO2 reduction September 17th, 2021

Enhanced ambient ammonia photosynthesis by Mo-doped Bi5O7Br nanosheets with light-switchable oxygen vacancies September 3rd, 2021

Light-harvesting nanoparticle catalysts show promise in quest for renewable carbon-based fuels June 25th, 2021

Active platinum species: Catalytic high-temperature oxidations: Individual atom or metal cluster? June 16th, 2021

Safety-Nanoparticles/Risk management

No nanoparticle risks to humans found in field tests of spray sunscreens December 2nd, 2020

Phytoplankton disturbed by nanoparticles: Due to its antibacterial properties, nanosilver is used in a wide range of products from textiles to cosmetics; but nanosilver if present at high concentrations also disrupts the metabolism of algae that are essential for the aquatic food November 27th, 2020

Study: Nanoparticles produced from burning coal result in damage to mice lungs, suggesting toxicity to humans February 5th, 2020

NIOSH requests data to help develop exposure limits for nanomaterials February 1st, 2020

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project