an official journal of: published by:
an official journal of: published by:
Editor in Chief: RAFFAELLO COSSU


  • Dilraj S. - Department of Civil Engineering, National Institute of Technology Calicut, India
  • Ebin Johnson - Department of Civil Engineering, National Institute of Technology Calicut, India
  • Anantha Singh T.S. - Department of Civil Engineering, National Institute of Technology Calicut, India
  • George Varghese - Department of Civil Engineering, National Institute of Technology Calicut, India
  • Christian Zafiu - Department of Water, Atmosphere and Environment, Institute of Waste Management, University for Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna , Austria

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Microplastics, small plastic pieces (<5mm), are emerging contaminants in water, terrestrial, and air environments. This study investigated possibility of microplastics as carriers of heavy metals (Cu, Zn, Pb, Mn, Cd) in the municipal solid waste (MSW) compost samples from Kozhikode and Kochi, in Kerala, India. Compost from municipal composting yards was analysed to understand the role of biofilm in heavy metal accumulation on microplastics. Five samples were analysed: (i) compost after microplastic separation, (ii) handpicked microplastics, (iii) microplastics washed with distilled water, (iv) chemically separated microplastics, and (v) new macro-plastics for comparison. Total Organic Carbon (TOC) and SEM analyses were used to assess the biofilm formation over microplastics. The study showed high microplastic abundance in the compost of both locations, with Kochi having nearly double the count as that of Kozhikode (1600 vs. 840/kg dry compost). Microplastics collected from Kochi exhibited higher biofilm formation, leading to greater heavy metal accumulation and higher concentrations compared to the compost. Heavy metal concentrations generally varied in the following order at both locations: handpicked microplastics > microplastics washed with distilled water > compost free from microplastics > chemically separated microplastic > new macro-plastic, with some exceptions. Heavy metal concentrations were significantly higher in samples from Kochi, due to a larger bio-film formation on the plastics as determined by TOC and SEM analyses. The findings of the study highlight the importance of source segregation and prevention of mixing organic waste with plastic waste in MSW, to avoid heavy metal transport in terrestrial environment through microplastics.


Editorial History

  • Received: 07 Sep 2023
  • Revised: 21 Feb 2024
  • Accepted: 18 Mar 2024
  • Available online: 31 Mar 2024


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