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Indexed under : Medicine / Diseases / M - Q

Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of Unknowns Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of the Unknown

Microplastics and human health implications

Note: Microplastic pollution is so widespread that it's now been found contaminating almost all multicellular lifeforms which have been tested. This article is only related to possible risks to human health.

Nano- and microplastics (NMPs) are tiny plastic particles of mixed shapes and sizes, which, to date, have been found in air, soil, freshwater, seas, animals, plants, and human food.

Little is known with respect to the human health risks of NMPs, and what is known is surrounded by considerable uncertainty […] however, the relevant conclusion of this working group is that we have no evidence of widespread risk to human health from NMPs at present.
With a sparse evidence base for both dietary and airborne microplastics exposures, especially concerning the inhalable size fraction, it is unclear what the human daily intake of NMPs is, yet this knowledge is essential for estimating health effects. Little to nothing is known of the kinetics and biodistribution of microplastics post-exposure.

Source : A Scientific Perspective on Micro-Plastics in Nature and accessScience Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA) Evidence Review Report No. 4.

Areas of concern, currently under investigation, include build-up of NMPs in the lungs via air pollution, and build-up in the gut (and other tissues) via ingested food.

Also see : Microplastic pollutionplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigMicroplastic pollution

"Plastic waste is currently generated at a rate approaching 400 Mt [mega-tonnes] / year. The amount of plastics accumulating in the environment is growing rapidly, yet our understanding of its persistence is very limited.“
andEnvironmental plastic degradationplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigEnvironmental plastic degradation

Of the (estimated) 300 - 400 million tonnes of plastic produced worldwide every year, only around 20% is currently recycled or incinerated. Much of the remaining 80% eventually ends up in the environment.

In the environment, plastics …

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