Due to the dramatic expansion of plastic production over the last 65 years, plastic has become a major contributor to global pollution. Microplastics (MPs), formed from the physical breakdown of larger plastics, have been found in many ecosystems. Much research has been done on the effects of MPs in aquatic ecosystems, but fewer studies have explored impacts of MPs in terrestrial environments. MPs in terrestrial systems are found primarily in soils, particularly in agricultural areas where plastic usage permeates modern agricultural practices. Additionally, pharmaceutical contamination of water supplies is considered an emerging pollutant threat. Naproxen-sodium is one of the most widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), and has been found in wastewater and natural freshwater bodies. Thus, terrestrial plants, especially in agricultural systems, may be exposed to multiple pollutants simultaneously. Our research explored individual effects of MP pollution intensity in soils and exposure to naproxen contamination on the growth and development of Lactuca sativa (lettuce) as well as potential interactive effects between these two contaminants. We also assessed impacts on soil abiotic conditions (pH and electrical conductivity). Preliminary results show that compared to the control, all treatments significantly reduced the total number of leaves, with high MP and high MP/naproxen treatments having the most effect. Additionally, exposure to high MP levels in soil negatively impacted the number and size of leaves and the fresh weight biomass, possibly driven by lower water content in shoots. These results indicate that both contaminants, alone and together, can influence lettuce growth and development.
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Chen, Andy; Barroso, Pamela; Tran, Jennifer; and Gance, Ashley, "Individual and Interactive Effects of Polyester Microplastics and Naproxen-Sodium on Lactuca Sativa Growth and Development and Soil Abiotic Conditions" (1905). Research Days Posters 2022. 11.