The Effects of Various Plastic Pollutants on the Growth of the Wisconsin Fast Plant

(1) Saint Paul Academy and Summit School, St. Paul, Minnesota
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Plastic pollutants are known to cause problems in ocean basins; however, the effects of plastic pollutants on terrestrial life are relatively unknown. We performed this experiment to determine the effects of various plastic pollutants on the growth of Brassica rapa. Five plastic treatment groups, including compostable, biodegradable, and recyclable plastics, and one control group were prepared. At the end of the experiment the number of germinations, flowers, biomass, height, soil macronutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and pH were measured. In the first trial, the height of the mushroom plastic variants was significantly shorter than the height of the polystyrene variants. The plants in the mushroom plastic had significantly lower biomass in both trials than all of the other variants including the control, other than HDPE milk jugs. There was no significant difference for flowering, germination, nitrogen, or pH in the soil. However, there was a significantly large amount of phosphates in the soil of the NaturBag compost bags. The significant decreases in height and biomass of the plants grown in the mushroom plastic show that they are impeding the growth, likely by physically blocking access to space and therefore nutrients. The increase in the NaturBag bags phosphorus levels indicates that the NaturBag is breaking down and releasing a large amount of phosphorus.

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