Wind erosion as a driver for transport of light density microplastics

Mahrooz Rezaei*, Michel J.P.M. Riksen, Elham Sirjani, Abdolmajid Sameni, Violette Geissen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Microplastic pollution in the environment is a growing concern in today's world. Wind-eroded sediment, as an environmental transport pathway of microplastics, can result in environmental and human exposure far beyond its sources. For the first time, this study investigates the presence of microplastics in wind-eroded sediments from different land uses in the Fars Province, Iran. Eleven test plots were selected based on land use and wind erosion risk. On each plot, wind erosion was simulated using a portable wind tunnel and the eroded sediment was collected for further analysis aimed at measuring light density microplastics (LDMP). The LDMPs were extracted in both soil and wind-eroded sediment using a floatation method and then further examined using microscopy. Annual LDMP transport by wind erosion was estimated using wind data from the study areas. LDMPs were detected in six study areas in the Fars Province which are highly prone to wind erosion. Although LDMPs were found mostly in agricultural land, it was also detected in the soils and sediments from two natural areas. The total concentrations of LDMPs in polluted areas were 6.91 and 20.27 mg kg−1 of microplastics in soil and wind-eroded sediments, respectively. The enrichment ratio for LDMP ranged from 2.83 to 7.63 in different areas. The erosion rate of LDMP ranged from 0.08 to 1.48 mg m−2 min−1. The results of this study confirmed the key role of wind erosion in the spread of microplastics in terrestrial environments which could form an exposure risk to humans via direct inhalation of the particles transported with the dust.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-281
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume669
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2019

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Keywords

  • Human health
  • LDMP
  • Microplastic pollution
  • Soil Erosion

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