Effects of Microplastics on Ecosystems

How much microplastic is in protected (community gardens) vs unprotected (street) city soil?
How is the growth and development of red wiggler worms/grass affected by the concentration of microplastic in soil?

Intern(s):

Aylyn Mejia Lebron, Ryan Mei, Stefan Valdez, Victoria Campaña

Mentor(s):

Grace Avecilla

Project Period:

2022 Summer

Team:

LES

Microplastics, less than 5mm pieces of plastic, exist mostly unseen by the human eye. In our experiment we wanted to know how much microplastics were in community gardens and how they affected the ecosystems within them. We collected soil samples from three community gardens and extracted microplastics using a sifting and canola oil density method. We then simulated three full ecosystems with red wiggler worms, grass, soil, and three different concentrations of microplastics: 0 g, 0.1g, and 1g. We determined the health of each terrarium by measuring the height of the grass and weight of worms in the beginning and the end of the experiment. We found that the existence of microplastics may have caused a change but one week of observation may not be enough time for significant effects to take place.

This page was created by BioBus Summer 2021 Jr. Scientist William Rhee.