New research has shown that worms do not thrive in microplastics containing soil, adding more and more evidence of the impacts of increasingly common contaminants on the natural world.

The pink tip worm, Aporrectodea rosea, is one of the most prevalent in agricultural lands of temperate regions. Scientists have found that worms placed in a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) -based plastic floor – a common plastic used for bags and bottles – lost about 3% of their body weight for 30 days, compared to a control sample. similar worms placed in similar HDPE soil, which took 5% of body weight during the same period.

Bas Boots, a professor of biology at Anglia Ruskin University and lead author of the study, said that the specific reasons for the weight loss observed were not yet clear, but that they could be due to the effects of microplastics on the digestion of worms. "These effects include clogging and irritation of the digestive tract, limiting nutrient absorption and reducing growth," he said.

If the presence of microplastics inhibits large-scale earthworm growth, this could have consequences for soil health and agriculture because worms are a vital part of the soil's soil ecosystem. farm.

The research, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, adds to a growing number of studies examining the effects of microscopic plastic particles on invertebrates and fish. Although it is too early to draw conclusions about the effects on human health, studies have shown that aquatic lugworms are harmful, as well as their possible effects on fish and shellfish.

Microplastics have now been found in tap water, in seas around the world, in human stools, in the air and in a wide variety of other environments.

Soils in many places are likely to contain a large number of microplastics, which are deposited there because of their presence in wastewater, in water and in the air. However, the extent of contamination is largely unknown, although European studies report 700 to 4000 plastic particles per kilogram of soil on some farmland.