Polyethylene scaffold net and synthetic grass fragmentation: a source of microplastics in the atmosphere?

J Hazard Mater. 2022 May 5;429:128391. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2022.128391. Epub 2022 Jan 31.


Microplastics (MPs) implications in the atmosphere are of current global concern. Currently, there is a growing interest regarding source appointment, fate, level of toxicity, and exposure intensity of ambient air MPs. Recent data suggest that polyethylene (PE) dominates ambient MPs in China's megacities. Albeit understanding of PE sources is limited and restricted to typical sources polluting terrestrial and marine environments. However, the air is a distinct environmental component and may have some separate pollution sources as well as the relative contribution of different sources could also contrast in different environments. Urbanization and fast construction activity resulting from increased economic growth in these places might be a potential source of ambient PE. Recently, the use of scaffold netting on construction sites and synthetic grass as land covering sheets has been on the rise. Generally, these PE items are often inferior and composed of recycled material, making them more prone to degradation. Also, because these items were continually exposed to open air, there is a considerable risk of fragmentation and atmospheric mixing. Therefore, unchecked and excessive usage of these materials can be risky. Here, PE's physical and chemical characteristics, transport and health risks in urban air are discussed here.

Keywords: Atmosphere; MPs; Megacities; Polyethylene; Scaffold net and synthetic grass.

MeSH terms

  • Atmosphere
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Microplastics* / toxicity
  • Plastics
  • Poaceae
  • Polyethylene
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical* / analysis


  • Microplastics
  • Plastics
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Polyethylene