Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Occurrence, sources, and relationships of soil microplastics with adsorbed heavy metals in the Ebinur Lake Basin, Northwest China


There is a lack of research on soil microplastics in arid oases considering the rapid economic development of northwestern China. Here, we studied the occurrence and sources of microplastics in soil, as well as the relationships between microplastics and adsorbed heavy metals in the Ebinur Lake Basin, a typical arid oasis in China. Results showed that (1) the average microplastic content in all soil samples was 36.15 (±3.27) mg/kg. The contents of microplastics at different sampling sites ranged from 3.89 (±1.64) to 89.25 (±2.98) mg/kg. Overall, the proportions of various microplastic shapes decreased in the following order: film (54.25%)>fiber (18.56%)>particle (15.07%)>fragment (8.66%)>foam (3.46%); (2) among all microplastic particles, white particles accounted for the largest proportion (52.93%), followed by green (24.15%), black (12.17%), transparent (7.16%), and yellow particles (3.59%). The proportions of microplastic particle size ranges across all soil samples decreased in the following order: 1000–2000 µm (40.88%)>500–1000 µm (26.75%)>2000–5000 µm (12.30%)>100–500 µm (12.92%)>0–100 µm (7.15%). FTIR (Fourier transform infrared) analyses showed that polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene (PP), polycarbonate (PC), polyethylene (PE), and polystyrene (PS) occurred in the studied soil; (3) random forest predictions showed that industrial and agricultural production activities and the discharge of domestic plastic waste were related to soil microplastic pollution, in which agricultural plastic film was the most important factor in soil pollution in the study area; and (4) seven heavy metals extracted from microplastics in the soil samples showed significant positive correlations with soil pH, EC, total salt, N, P, and K contents (P<0.01), indicating that these soil factors could significantly affect the contents of heavy metals carried by soil microplastics. This research demonstrated that the contents of soil microplastics are lower than other areas of the world, and they mainly come from industrial and agricultural activities of the Ebinur Lake Basin.


occurrence characteristics; source analysis; soil microplastics; heavy metals; Ebinur Lake Basin

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