In a press release published on June 16, 2021, it was announced that the European Commission has launched five new, large-scale research projects to better understand the effects of micro- and nanoplastics on human health.

75 organizations from 21 countries have come together under the five projects to form the European research cluster to understand the health impacts of micro- and nanoplastics, CUSP. Funded by the European Commission with €30 million, a multidisciplinary team of scientists, industry, and policymakers will collaborate in this unprecedented research effort over the next five years. Within CUSP, the different projects will investigate the complex relationship between micro- and nanoplastics (MNPs) and human health. The team will be focusing in particular on exposure routes, hazard and risk assessment, and the development of new analytical tools to measure, characterize and quantify MNPs. A large audience of stakeholders and interested citizens joined on June 9th, to launch the cluster with an online kick-off with CUSP project members and representatives from the European Commission.

The five multidisciplinary research consortia that brought to life the CUSP cluster mainly consist of universities and research institutions as well as small- and medium-sized enterprises, NGOs, non-for-profit organizations, industry, and governmental institutions. These five projects are: AURORA, IMPTOX, Plastic Heal, PlasticsFatE, and POLYRISK. The Food Packaging Forum is one of 11 partners within the AURORA project, which is focusing specifically on understanding the impacts of MNPs on early life health. AURORA will develop new low and high-throughput methods for both in-depth characterization as well as large-scale health studies of MNPs. It will assess the effects in the placenta and the developing fetus, study the effects of MNPs on human populations in two birth cohort studies, and develop an actionable roadmap for risk assessment of MNPs.

“In the five different CUSP projects, we focus on generating the scientific evidence that is essential to carry out a detailed risk assessment,” explained Prof. Roel Vermeulen, from the University Medical Centre Utrecht and the coordinator of AURORA, in an online networking event organized by the 2021 EU Green Week on June 3rd. “The risk at the moment is very uncertain, but scientifically plausible and could affect future generations, which is why we should be filling this knowledge gap urgently,” affirmed Dr. Heather Leslie from VU Amsterdam and co-coordinator of POLYRISK.

More information about the CUSP cluster and its five projects are available on its website, and interested stakeholders can also subscribe to CUSP’s newsletter and follow it on Twitter and LinkedIn for updates.


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CUSP (May 2021). “The European Research Cluster to Understand the Health Impacts of Micro- and Nanoplastics.”