Scientists and researchers across Europe are working together to better understand the impact of micro- and nanoplastics on human health. 

In April, over 25 scientists, researchers, and POLYRISK project partners met in Oslo to improve collaboration, discuss methodologies for analysing biological samples gathered, and assess the potential impact these plastic particles might have on health. 

The POLYRISK research project explores how plastic particles are being absorbed into the human body and whether they negatively impact human health with a special focus on the immune system. 

Potential health impacts of micro- and nano-plastics 

Over two and a half days, project partners exchanged updates on their research into micro-and nanoplastic particle (MNP) samples and their potential immunological and toxicological effects. 

Across three exposure studies, researchers in the Netherlands, Norway, and Romania are studying the impacts of MNPs on human immune systems from car traffic, artificial sports pitches, and textile factories. Initial results of both blood and saliva samples were discussed at the meeting to better understand the potential impact of MNPs on human health.  

They also addressed challenges associated with MNP research, such as the need to better characterise the different particles, harmonise analysis methods, and to study longer term effects alongside immediate impacts. 

“I am delighted to see the strides that the POLYRISK research project has already made towards identifying certain immune effects of nano- and microplastics, but we still have work to do. Over the next year, we are looking to share results that will inform EU policy on plastic pollution and help to ensure human health is protected.”

– Dr. Raymond Pieters – POLYRISK Project Coordinator and Associate Professor at Utrecht University