Field evidence for transfer of plastic debris along a terrestrial food chain

Esperanza Huerta Lwanga*, Jorge Mendoza Vega, Victor Ku Quej, Jesus de los Angeles Chi, Lucero Sanchez del Cid, Cesar Chi, Griselda Escalona Segura, Henny Gertsen, Tamás Salánki, Martine van der Ploeg, Bart Koelmans, Violette Geissen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

113 Citations (Scopus)


Although plastic pollution happens globally, the micro- (<5 mm) and macroplastic (5–150 mm) transfer of plastic to terrestrial species relevant to human consumption has not been examined. We provide first-time evidence for micro- and macroplastic transfer from soil to chickens in traditional Mayan home gardens in Southeast Mexico where waste mismanagement is common. We assessed micro- and macroplastic in soil, earthworm casts, chicken feces, crops and gizzards (used for human consumption). Microplastic concentrations increased from soil (0.87 ± 1.9 particles g−1), to earthworm casts (14.8 ± 28.8 particles g−1), to chicken feces (129.8 ± 82.3 particles g−1). Chicken gizzards contained 10.2 ± 13.8 microplastic particles, while no microplastic was found in crops. An average of 45.82 ± 42.6 macroplastic particles were found per gizzard and 11 ± 15.3 macroplastic particles per crop, with 1–10 mm particles being significantly more abundant per gizzard (31.8 ± 27.27 particles) compared to the crop (1 ± 2.2 particles). The data show that micro- and macroplastic are capable of entering terrestrial food webs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14071
Number of pages7
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2017

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Field evidence for transfer of plastic debris along a terrestrial food chain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this