Effects of microplastics in sewage sludge on soils ‘overlooked.‘ Utility Week, November 7, 2016.
Researchers are concerned about the lack of knowledge regarding the potential consequences that microplastics may have on agricultural landscapes through the application of sewage sludge. Until now, the environmental problem of microplastics has focused on their effects in the ocean and on marine life.
Luca Nizzetto and Sindre Langaas, from the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) and Martyn Futter, from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Uppsala, say microplastics in soils have largely been overlooked.
In an article recently published in Environmental Science & Technology, the researchers said sewage sludge is in principle waste, but it can also represent a resource in agriculture and horticulture. Fertiliser based on sludge contains valuable nutrients, but sustainable use requires that the levels of undesirable substances in the sludge is kept under control.
However, they said, wastewater treatment plants receive large amounts of microplastics emitted from households, industry and surface run-off in urban areas. Most of these microplastics accumulate in the sewage sludge.
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