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The study shows that soil pollution in urban green spaces and natural areas is similar


Microplastic debris. Credit: Roberto Ruiz (UA)

An international study showed that soils in urban green spaces and landscapes share similar levels of multiple pollutants such as metals, pesticides, microplastics and antibiotic resistance genes worldwide. Soil pollution is one of the major threats to the health and sustainability of ecosystems.

The work was carried out by more than 40 authors from research centers and universities in Spain, China, Switzerland, Australia, Germany, Chile, South Africa, Nigeria, France, Portugal, Slovenia, Mexico, the United States, Brazil, India, and Israel. It was recently published in Nature Communications. The team collaborated with ecologists Carlos Sanz Lázaro and Nuria Casado Cui, researchers at the Ramón Margaliev Interdisciplinary Institute for Environmental Studies (IMEM), and experts in the study of plastic and bioplastic pollution.

Environmental stress associated with soil pollution, whether of natural origin or caused by humans, can directly affect biodiversity and increase the resilience and resilience of ecosystems in the face of climate change and natural disasters, explained Carlos Sanz Lázaro.

As the article points out, soil pollution is currently associated with vehicle emissions, industrial processes, pesticide handling, plant diseases, as well as waste mismanagement. It is therefore expected that urban green spaces are more affected by pollutants than natural ecosystems, which are geographically farther away from human activities. However, the study has shown that hazardous pollutants (metals, pesticides, microplastics, antibiotic resistance genes) can be spread by air transport, uncontrolled waste disposal, and even rainwater runoff over the surface of a piece of land and into ecosystems. natural.

This work is important because it provides quantitative comparison evidence of urban and natural soil pollutants on six continents, according to an ecologist at the University of Alicante (UA).

case of microplastics

Microplastics, which are typical pollutants of anthropogenic (anthropogenic) origin, are also ubiquitous in the soils of urban green spaces and natural ecosystems around the world. Surprisingly, as reported by Sanz-Lázaro, they found similar proportions of polymer shape and type of microplastics in natural areas and urban green spaces, further supporting the idea that human pollutants spread through ecosystems. These microplastics, often originating from cities, affect remote areas via air transport, with fibers being the main form of plastic particles suspended in the atmosphere in cities such as Paris, London and Dongguan (China). The fibers are generally made of polyester and polypropylene from synthetic fabrics, ropes and nets.

Advancing pollutants, as detailed in the article, the soils of faraway Antarctica also contain microplastics. This could be related to the dispersal of microplastics from Antarctic research stations and other continents by sea and air, and other activities such as tourism that could contribute to the accumulation of microplastics in the soils of Antarctic sites. As the UA researcher concluded, the results of this international research show that the level and properties of microplastics in natural areas match those found in urban parks and gardens in terrestrial ecosystems around the world.

more information:
Yu-Rong Liu et al, Soil pollution in nearby natural areas mirrors that in urban green spaces worldwide, Nature Communications (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-37428-6

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the quote: Study Shows Soil Pollution in Urban Green Spaces and Natural Areas Similar (2023, April 5) Retrieved April 5, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-04-soil-pollution-urban-green-spaces. html

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