Microplastic effects on soil system parameters: a meta-analysis study

Haixiao Li*, Le Liu, Yan Xu, Junyang Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Microplastics are generally considered as an emerging contaminant in the environment due to their toxic additives and transport of other contaminants. However, the potential threats of microplastics in soil should be concerned due to inconsistent research results. In this study, a meta-analysis based on 32 recent relevant studies was conducted to compare the response of soil system parameters including microbial community, aggregate structure, soil nutrient contents, and crop growth to the presence of microplastics. The results showed that microplastics presented no significant effects on soil dissolved organic carbon contents and the amounts of available phosphate, nitrate, and ammonium. Although microplastics would not significantly influence the diversity of soil microorganisms, they could significantly increase soil microorganism amounts with a standard mean difference at 19.32. We also found that microplastics tended to significantly decrease soil water stable macro-aggregate (> 0.25 mm) contents with a significantly negative standard mean difference (− 0.90) in meta-analysis. Moreover, soil microplastics seemed not to affect crop growth by having non-significant effects on both crop under-ground and above-ground biomasses. These results indicate that up to date, the main negative impacts caused by microplastics on soil systems could be their negative functions on soil aggregation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11027-11038
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Crop biomass
  • Microbial community
  • Soil aggregation
  • Soil nutrient availability


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