While it is widely known that microplastics (MPs) in the ocean are a serious environmental problem, the threat posed by MPs in agricultural lands is almost entirely unknown. A large fraction of MPs produced in industrialised countries is intercepted by sewers. In treatment plants most MPs are retained in the sludge. In many countries a sizeable fraction of this sewage sludge is spread on agricultural lands. We estimate the MP input to agricultural lands in Europe to be between 50 000 and 175 000 tonnes/year. This is especially alarming given that plastic polymers can contain toxic compounds and endocrine disrupting substances. Effectively, sewage sludge application may be causing persistent, pernicious and almost totally ignored contamination of agricultural land.
IMPASSE develops and communicates new understanding of microplastic behavior in agrosystems which is urgently needed to avoid the potential of serious and long lasting environmental contamination. The highly interdisciplinary project includes risk communication, stakeholder engagement, ecotoxicology, catchment modelling, decision support tools, monitoring and experimental work needed to understand and then minimise threats associated with MPs in agrosystems.
*At the time of the proposal. Please consider this data as an accurate estimate; it may vary during the project’s lifespan.
Total costs include in kind contribution by grant holders and can therefore be higher than the total requested funding.