Contrasting effects of microplastics on sorption of diazepam and phenanthrene in soil Academic Article uri icon


  • Microplastics have attracted extensive attention regarding their role in the cycling of organic pollutants in aquatic environments. However, the influence of microplastics on the sorption of organic pollutants in soil is unclear. Herein, we investigated the sorption of polar diazepam and nonpolar phenanthrene to two soils (Inceptisol and Oxisol). Batch sorption experiments were used to evaluate the effect of polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), and polystyrene (PS) microplastics at addition rates of 0.1%, 1%, and 10% (w/w). The addition of microplastics significantly decreased the overall sorption of diazepam at 10%, and increased the sorption of phenanthrene at 1%, while the effects were negligible at other addition rates. Decreased sorption of diazepam was attributed to its lower sorption affinity to microplastics than to soil. Microplastics, even at 0.1%, substantially decreased the relative distribution of phenanthrene in soil, particularly for PE in the Oxisol with lower foc. The sorption affinity of phenanthrene followed the order PE > soil organic carbon (SOC) > PP > PS, suggesting that PE can be a significant sink of phenanthrene in contaminated soils. Overall, microplastics can change the sorption of diazepam and phenanthrene to soil and therefore affect their mobility and environmental risk in soil ecosystems.


publication date

  • 2020