Ecotoxicological effects of micro- and nanoplastics on terrestrial food web from plants to human beings

Wenfeng Wang, Anh T.Ngoc Do, Jung Hwan Kwon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Micro- and nanoplastics (MNPs) are present in almost all environmental compartments. Terrestrial soils are major environmental reservoirs for MNPs, but the ecotoxicological effects of MNPs on terrestrial biota remain relatively understudied. In this review, we collated findings of previous research on the uptake and impact of MNPs in terrestrial organisms, including flora, fauna, and human beings. Terrestrial plants can take up MNPs via the roots or leaves and translocate them to other parts. MNPs have been detected in the gastrointestinal tracts or feces of many terrestrial animals, including some high trophic-level predators, indicating the incidence of direct ingestion or trophic transfer of MNPs. The presence of MNPs in food items and human feces combines to verify human intake of MNPs via the dietary pathway. Exposure to MNPs can cause diverse effects on terrestrial organisms, including alterations in growth performance, oxidative stress, metabolic disturbance, cytotoxicity, genotoxicity, and mortality. The biological internalization and impact of MNPs are influenced by the physicochemical properties of MNPs (e.g., particle size, polymer type, surface chemistry, and exposure concentrations) and the physiology of the species. MNPs can also affect the bioavailability of co-occurring intrinsic or extrinsic contaminants to terrestrial biota, but their specific role is under dispute. Finally, we underlined the current research gaps and proposed several priorities for future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number155333
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Aug 15


  • Ecotoxicological effects
  • Human health
  • Micro- and nanoplastics
  • Terrestrial biota
  • Trophic transfer
  • Uptake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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