Many science fiction workspainted the darkest pictures of the future of human civilization. However, none of the science fiction authors did not foresee a truly terrible and widespread pollution of the planet with microplastic particles. Today, the situation has gotten a little out of control, since we not only breathe with microplastics, but also drink it, making tea. However, the most unpleasant in the whole story lies in the results of a recent study conducted by scientists from the University of England: microplastic in the soil causes earthworms to lose weight. Why is this important, you ask? The fact is that the soil affected by microplastic brings lower productivity due to the less productive work of earthworms and a lower pH level. If this trend continues, our entire agricultural system may be at risk.
Why are worms important to the ecosystem?
It's no secret that they eat plastic todayalmost all types of seabirds, turtles take colored plastic for food, and in the stomachs of whales they find tons of plastic debris, the damage of microplastics is slightly underestimated. A new study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, revealed not the most pleasant location of microplastics: the digestive tract of earthworms. If you don’t fish every day, and it doesn’t rain so often on the street, you hardly pay attention to the modest life of earthworms. These endogenous worms that live in the upper layers of the soil do not require human attention play an important role in the functioning of the ecosystem. Feeding on the soil, these pink worms - Aporrectodea rosea - mix minerals and air in the soil, which helps, among other things, sprout plants. Thus, worms are an important component of the agricultural system.
What other dangers do you thinkmicroplastic? Let’s discuss this with the participants of our Telegram chat. A team from the University of England wanted to find out if introducing microplastics into the soil would slow down plant growth. The results of the study were disappointing: lead. After introducing various microplastic fibers into the soil - biodegradable polylactic acid (PLA), ordinary high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and microplastic clothing fibers - the researchers planted the lawn grass ryegrass (Lolium perenne).
How microplastic affects plant seeds
Microplastic contamination isa dangerous problem for the health of the soil, however, as scientists write, it has not been well studied. The long-term effects of microplastics on soil can delay the development of soil biodiversity. Scientists note that the soil and the processes that occur in it are living and organic. They depend on decaying and dead matter, constantly spreading in different directions (for example, earthworms) and processed. Soil is one of the main reasons that some countries have become leading world powers. Fields with healthy soil provide an incredible amount of food for the planet.
Interested in the latest scientific discoveries? Subscribe to our news channel in Telegram to be the first to know all the latest news
However, damaged soil destroys not onlyecosystems, but also societies. when farmers try to increase yields by introducing plastic mulching, they unknowingly pollute the soil with tons of microplastic particles.
Mulching is the surface coating of soil with mulch (English mulch) for its protection and improvement of properties.
These particles then enter the earthworms.(as well as other animals), as a result of which they lose weight. At the same time, recently WHO announced that microplastic does not threaten human health. Do you think you agree?