This month saw the official launch of CUSP, the European Research Cluster to Understand the Health Impacts of Micro- and Nanoplastics.

CUSP is a consortium of five research projects working to understand micro- and nanoplastics (MNPs) in our environment and their exposures and impacts on health. The projects are publicly funded under a call within the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program. Together these five projects make up the CUSP research cluster: AURORA IMPTOX PlasticHeal PlasticsFatE , and POLYRISK .

CUSP was launched with an event at EU Green Week – the sessions can be watched here.

Project partners also published a press release, introducing the five projects including POLYRISK:

POLYRISK aims at unravelling the risks of microplastic and nanoplastic particles (MNP) that are ubiquitous in our environment and are likely to be entering the human body via inhalation and ingestion. The most bioavailable low-micron and nano-sized MNP pose the biggest analytical challenges or today’s analytical chemists. Existing knowledge about the adverse pro-inflammatory effects of airborne particulate matter and nanoparticles, combined with pro-inflammatory evidence of MNP exposure observed in animal models and in vitro pilot tests with human immune cells, suggeststhat MNP may cause immunotoxicity in humans. Occupational exposure of workersto fibrous MNP can indeed lead to granulomatouslesions, causing respiratory irritation, functional abnormalities and flock worker’s lung. Currently, human health risk assessment protocols specific to MNP are not available and key data is missing. This hampers science-based decision making.

“POLYRISK’s human risk assessment strategy will combine highly advanced sampling, sample pretreatment and analytical methods to detect microplastic and nanoplastic particles, MNPs, in complex matrices, up-to-date fit-for-purpose hazard assessment technologies and multiple real-life human exposure scenarios. We will focus on key toxic events linked to several chronic inflammatory diseases”, said Dr. Raymond Pieters from the Utrecht University, Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences.

Find here the CUSP website, and follow on Twitter