Municipal sewage sludge as a source of microplastics in the environment

Charles Rolsky, Varun Kelkar, Erin Driver, Rolf U. Halden

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


Wastewater treatment plants are known to contribute to microplastic (MP) pollution in freshwater and terrestrial environments, but studies on MP abundance in sludge are scarce. This study aimed to (i) conduct a literature review to assess the number and extent of MPs in sludge worldwide, (ii) determine extraction and analytical techniques used to isolate and identify these materials, and (iii) assess the fate and transport of these materials in the environment as a result of sludge disposal and reuse. Research in this area has increased as 12 countries have now reported and quantified MPs in sludge. This study highlights the need to assess the temporal and spatial differences in MP pollution in sludge, this relationship to land-applied biosolids, and the risk to human and ecological health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-22
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Environmental Science and Health
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Biosolids
  • Microplastics
  • Plastic pollution
  • Sewage sludge
  • Wastewater treatment plant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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