Over 145 participants connected online for a special workshop to discuss human health risk assessment frameworks for micro- and nanoplastic particles (MNPs) with guest speakers, researchers and collaborators from the POLYRISK research project and CUSP.

Assessing human health effects of micro- and nanoplastic particles (MNPs) is challenging for several reasons. MNPs are complex mixtures, and can have different geometries, shapes and sizes. They can be made from different polymer types and contain various additives and contaminants. 

To answer the question on how to establish frameworks for assessing human health risks of MNPs, the POLYRISK research project in collaboration with CUSP organised a special workshop on 14 March 2023. The first part of the workshop saw experts from BAuA and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) discuss existing concepts and frameworks for polymers and nanomaterials. Oliver Peters (BAuA) outlined the risk assessment of polymers in the perspective of EU’s flagship chemicals legislation, REACH. His presentation was followed by Steffen Foss Hansen (DTU), who introduced participants to the risk assessment of nanomaterials. 

The second part of the workshop focused on the adaptation of existing health risk assessment concepts and frameworks for MNPs. Annie Jarabek (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) talked about integrated approaches for testing and assessment for poorly soluble, low toxicity polymer particles. In his presentation, Matthew Boyles (Institute of Occupational Medicine – IOM) answered the question whether existing frameworks for nanomaterials are useful for MNPs. Lastly, Andrea Haase (German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment – BfR) outlined the POLYRISK project’s draft risk assessment framework for MNPs. 

The workshop concluded with an interactive and engaging break-out session, where participants were encouraged to tackle questions around where priorities for future research should be set. 

The workshop was part of a three-part series on the human risk assessment of micro- and nanoplastics (MNPs) organised by CUSP and CUSP member projects. The first workshop, organised by CUSP and PlasticHEAL on 7 February 2023, focused on regulatory insights and knowledge gaps on MNPs. The third workshop, organised by CUSP and PlasticsFatE, will take place on 21 April 2023 and focus on data needs for the human health risk assessment of MNPs.

The presentation slides from the workshop are available for download:

POLYRISK is an EU Horizon 2020 funded research project, and falls under the programme,  Understanding health, wellbeing and disease and the topic Micro- and nano-plastics in our  environment: Understanding exposures and impacts on human health, which includes four other  projects: AURORA, PlasticsFatE, PLASTICHEAL and IMPTOX. These five projects form the European Cluster on Health Impacts of Micro- And NanoPlastic, called CUSP.