EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Long term influences of PVC microplastics on soil chemical and microbiological parameters

Sofia Barili1, Alessandro Bernetti2, Ciro Sannino2, Nicolò Montegiovo3, Eleonora Calzoni3, Alessio Cesaretti3, Irina Pinchuk2, Daniela Pezzolla1, Benedetta Turchetti2, Pietro Buzzini2, Giovanni Gigliotti1, and Carla Emiliani3
Sofia Barili et al.
  • 1Università degli studi di Perugia, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering , Italy (
  • 22 Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Science, University of Perugia, Italy 3
  • 3Department of Chemistry, Biology and Biotechnology, University of Perugia, Italy

Microplastics are emerging pollutant found in many ecosystems including soil. Within them, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is one of the most toxic polymers and is known for its remarkable resistance to degradation. The recalcitrant nature of PVC and the improper waste disposal could cause serious environmental concerns. In addition, the possible fragmentation and accumulation of small plastic particles in agricultural soils might have impacts on soil chemical and microbiological properties. Based on these considerations, a microcosm experiment was set up to investigate the effects of PVC microplastics (0.021% w/w) on soil chemical properties and soil bacterial and fungal communities at different incubation times (from 3 to 360 days).

Among chemical parameters, soil CO2 emissions, fluorescein diacetate hydrolysis (FDA), total organic C (TOC), total N, water extractable organic C (WEOC), water extractable N (WEN) and SUVA254 were investigated, while the structure of soil microbial communities was studied at different taxonomic levels (phylum and genus) by sequencing bacterial 16S and fungal ITS2 rDNA (Illumina MiSeq). The number and the dimensions of PVC particles were also evaluated after one year of experiment.

The results showed that the presence of PVC particles in soil caused significant (p < 0.05) variations in chemical parameters in short- and medium-term, thus suggesting that the presence of this polymer in soil can affect the turnover of organic matter. In the long period, instead, an increase of the soil enzymatic activity (FDA) was observed.

The analysis of microbiological parameters showed that PVC microplastics significantly affected (p < 0.05) the structure of soil microbial communities changing the abundances of specific bacterial and fungal taxa: Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria, Bacteroides, Candidatus_Saccharibacteria, and Proteobacteria, , among bacteria, and Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, and Mortierellomycota among fungi, suggesting that the impact of this polymer could be taxa-dependent.

A significant (p < 0.05) decrease of the number and dimensions of PVC particles was also detected after one year of incubation, supposing a possible role of microbial community on polymer degradation.

How to cite: Barili, S., Bernetti, A., Sannino, C., Montegiovo, N., Calzoni, E., Cesaretti, A., Pinchuk, I., Pezzolla, D., Turchetti, B., Buzzini, P., Gigliotti, G., and Emiliani, C.: Long term influences of PVC microplastics on soil chemical and microbiological parameters, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-15971,, 2023.