Risks of microplastic and nanoplastic particles

Understanding human exposure and health hazard of micro- and nanoplastic contaminants in our environment

From childhood to old age, we all come in contact with plastic products on a daily basis, in the living environment and food chain. Our plastic products are a source of plastic fragments, tiny particles generally invisible to the naked eye. How many of these plastic particles are actually being absorbed into our bodies via inhalation and ingestion? Could tiny micro- and nanoplastic particles (MNP) inside our bodies be having a negative impact on human health?

The EU-funded POLYRISK project explores these questions by examining human exposure to MNP and their potential toxic effects. POLYRISK considers occupational and consumer exposure and puts a special emphasis on potential adverse effects of MNP on the immune system.

The interdisciplinary team of POLYRISK scientists are using advanced methods to chemically detect and quantify these plastic particles, understand key mechanisms of MNP toxicity in vitro, and to find biomarkers for toxicity using blood and saliva tests. These are important elements of POLYRISK’s human risk assessment strategy for MNP.

The outcomes of the projects will be communicated early on with the aim to feed them into current and future EU policies, and support actions envisaged under the European Green Deal in relation to plastic pollution – helping to ensure that human health is protected, today and in the future.

POLYRISK forms part of the European Cluster on Health Impacts of Micro- And NanoPlastic, CUSP.

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