Microplastics and human health: knowns and unknowns

Article published in Science lays out key knowledge gaps hindering human health risk assessments of microplastics, highlights lack of analytical tools to assess small microplastics and nanoplastics; estimated low exposure does not imply low risk

Microplastics found in human placenta

Research study finds microplastic in placentas of four healthy women, detected both on the maternal and fetal sides of the placenta, membrane in-between; particles could enter the women’s body through oral or respiratory exposure, potential long-term effects for the fetus to be investigated

Intentional and non-intentional microplastics targeted by EU ban

European Commission signals that it is preparing a wider set of actions to initiate impact assessment on non-intentional microplastics emissions; would include sources such as car tires, textiles, plastic pellets; stakeholders call for more research to address current data gaps in microplastic toxicity

‘The trouble with plastics’

Special issue of peer-reviewed journal Birth Defects Research presents a collection of articles on plastics’ effects on human health, with a particular focus on early development

Study investigates microplastics release from baby bottles

Article published in Nature Food describes release of microplastics from polypropylene baby bottles following cleaning and sterilization steps; releases of up to 16.2 million particles per liter, average infant exposure from feeding in the range of 14,600 to 4.5 million microplastic particles per infant per day

NGOs call for REACH polymer registrations to address microplastics

European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and ChemSec submit comments to CARACAL subgroup on polymer registrations under REACH; recommend modifying proposed criteria for polymers requiring registration, suggest recognizing micro- and nanoplastic generation as inherent hazardous property of plastic polymers; call for mandatory pre-registration with submission of defined minimal dataset for all polymers

EEB analysis critical of ECHA microplastics restriction

European Environmental Bureau (EEB) disapproves of updates the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) made to its restriction proposal for microplastics in consumer and professional products; criticizes increase in microplastic size limit to 100 nm; ECHA defends changes, argues that regulation must be enforceable, cites lacking analytical techniques

Pew Charitable Trust report evaluates plastic pollution scenarios

Analysis calculates current commitments will only reduce plastic pollution flows into oceans by 7%; implementing all feasible solutions now could cut pollution by up to 78%; authors call for urgent and coordinated action by all stakeholders, redirecting all current and future investments away from virgin plastic infrastructure

The Globe and Mail article on human microplastics exposure

Author Rick Smith describes experiment carried out on himself with University of Rochester to identify uptake of microplastics in his diet; article discusses unknowns and concerns held by scientific experts, criticizes increased plastic use during COVID-19 pandemic

California adopts microplastics definition

U.S. California’s Water Resource Control Board adopts definition for microplastics in drinking water; long-term monitoring of microplastics planned in drinking water supplies to understand implications for public health