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      Polyester microplastic fibers in soil increase nitrogen loss via leaching and decrease plant biomass production and N uptake

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      Environmental Research Letters
      IOP Publishing

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          Abstract

          Microplastic contamination, like other global change factors, can induce effects on ecosystem functions and processes, affecting various soil biophysical properties. However, effects of such contaminants on nutrient cycles in agroecosystems are still poorly understood. We here performed two pot experiments to investigate the effect of polyester microplastic fibers (PMFs) on soil physical properties, nitrogen cycle, and plant performance in a maize-based agroecosystem. Moreover, we followed the N loss via leaching in soil contaminated or not with PMFs by simulating heavy rainfall events that mimic a future scenario of climate change. Our results show that soil contaminated with PMFs (at a concentration of 0.5% w/w) can jeopardize agroecosystem sustainability by affecting soil physical properties and in particular soil macro- and microporosity, the nitrogen cycle, and plant performance. In particular, we found that soil PMF contamination limited crop growth and N uptake by circa 30%, and consequently increased N loss via leaching. Overall, our findings show that soil contamination with PMFs may pose problems to future agricultural challenges like food security and environmental protection.

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          Spreading dead zones and consequences for marine ecosystems.

          Dead zones in the coastal oceans have spread exponentially since the 1960s and have serious consequences for ecosystem functioning. The formation of dead zones has been exacerbated by the increase in primary production and consequent worldwide coastal eutrophication fueled by riverine runoff of fertilizers and the burning of fossil fuels. Enhanced primary production results in an accumulation of particulate organic matter, which encourages microbial activity and the consumption of dissolved oxygen in bottom waters. Dead zones have now been reported from more than 400 systems, affecting a total area of more than 245,000 square kilometers, and are probably a key stressor on marine ecosystems.
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            Are We Speaking the Same Language? Recommendations for a Definition and Categorization Framework for Plastic Debris

            The accumulation of plastic litter in natural environments is a global issue. Concerns over potential negative impacts on the economy, wildlife, and human health provide strong incentives for improving the sustainable use of plastics. Despite the many voices raised on the issue, we lack a consensus on how to define and categorize plastic debris. This is evident for microplastics, where inconsistent size classes are used and where the materials to be included are under debate. While this is inherent in an emerging research field, an ambiguous terminology results in confusion and miscommunication that may compromise progress in research and mitigation measures. Therefore, we need to be explicit on what exactly we consider plastic debris. Thus, we critically discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a unified terminology, propose a definition and categorization framework, and highlight areas of uncertainty. Going beyond size classes, our framework includes physicochemical properties (polymer composition, solid state, solubility) as defining criteria and size, shape, color, and origin as classifiers for categorization. Acknowledging the rapid evolution of our knowledge on plastic pollution, our framework will promote consensus building within the scientific and regulatory community based on a solid scientific foundation.
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              Moving beyond P values: data analysis with estimation graphics

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                (View ORCID Profile)
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                Journal
                Environmental Research Letters
                Environ. Res. Lett.
                IOP Publishing
                1748-9326
                April 25 2022
                May 01 2022
                April 25 2022
                May 01 2022
                : 17
                : 5
                : 054012
                Article
                10.1088/1748-9326/ac652d
                17ce1139-8230-4b4f-9a86-0d508299a298
                © 2022

                http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

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