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Discovering How Microplastics Endanger Health and Soil

Researchers from Zhejiang Shuren University and China Agricultural University revealed the mechanisms and effects of plastic pollution on antibiotic resistance and soil health. The study was published in Eco-Environment & Health on October 13th, 2023.

Discovering How Microplastics Endanger Health and Soil
Graphical abstract. Image Credit: Eco-Environment & Health

In this study, researchers looked into how the structure of bacterial communities and the transmission of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in soil were affected by small plastic particles known as nanoplastics and microplastics. They concentrated on a common plastic contaminant called polystyrene.

According to the study, microplastics and nanoplastics change soil microorganisms and raise antibiotic resistance. Notably, even in small amounts, nanoplastics had a more substantial impact because of their small size and huge surface area. Antibiotic efficacy may be weakened as a result of the altered prevalent bacterial species and increased ARG dissemination.

The results underscore the mounting apprehension regarding the existence of minute plastic particles in the soil and its consequences for human well-being and ecological durability.

Our findings reveal a startling truth about the hidden dangers of nanoplastics in our environment. They not only disrupt soil microbial communities but also facilitate the spread of antibiotic resistance, posing a silent yet significant threat to ecological and public health.

Jie Wang, Lead researcher, Beijing Key Laboratory of Farmland Soil Pollution Prevention and Remediation, College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, China Agricultural University

In general, the study underscores the multifaceted ways in which these microscopic plastic particles are influencing soil and possibly human well-being. It demonstrates that to safeguard the ecosystem and public health; one must learn more about these effects and devise strategies to lessen plastic pollution.

The critical need for comprehensive measures to manage plastic waste and lessen its negative effects on soil ecosystems and public health is highlighted by this research. Important information for environmental policies and practices aiming at maintaining soil health and limiting the development of antibiotic resistance is provided by the study, which highlights the function of nanoplastics in amplifying ARG spread and changing microbial ecosystems.

Journal Reference:

Liu, L., et.al., (2024). Nanoplastics promote the dissemination of antibiotic-resistance genes and diversify their bacterial hosts in soil. Eco-Environment & Health. doi.org/10.1016/j.eehl.2023.09.005.

Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/eco-environment-and-health

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