Health impacts of environmental contamination of micro- and nanoplastics: a review

Date of publication 3 August 2020

Authors Jiang, Baorong; Kauffman, Alexandra E.; Li, Lei; McFee, Wayne; Cai, Bo; Weinstein, John; Lead, Jamie R.; Chatterjee, Saurabh; Scott, Geoffrey, I; Xiao, Shuo.

Sources Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine : 25 (DocId: 1)



Plastics are extensively used in our daily life. However, a significant amount of plastic waste is discharged to the environment directly or via improper reuse or recycling. Degradation of plastic waste generates micro- or nano-sized plastic particles that are defined as micro- or nanoplastics (MNPs). Microplastics (MPs) are plastic particles with a diameter less than 5 mm, while nanoplastics (NPs) range in diameter from 1 to 100 or 1000 nm. In the current review, we first briefly summarized the environmental contamination of MNPs and then discussed their health impacts based on existing MNP research. Our review indicates that MNPs can be detected in both marine and terrestrial ecosystems worldwide and be ingested and accumulated by animals along the food chain. Evidence has suggested the harmful health impacts of MNPs on marine and freshwater animals. Recent studies found MPs in human stool samples, suggesting that humans are exposed to MPs through food and/or drinking water. However, the effect of MNPs on human health is scarcely researched. In addition to the MNPs themselves, these tiny plastic particles can release plastic additives and/or adsorb other environmental chemicals, many of which have been shown to exhibit endocrine disrupting and other toxic effects. In summary, we conclude that more studies are necessary to provide a comprehensive understanding of MNP pollution hazards and also provide a basis for the subsequent pollution management and control.

TSC Opinion

Les micro et nano plastiques sont présents partout dans les environnements maritimes aquatiques et terrestres. On les retrouve aussi dans les organes digestifs humain. La toxicité potentielle de ces particules reste encore largement spéculative. Cet article n’apporte rien de plus, si ce n’est une synthèse des connaissances actuelles. Il conclut donc logiquement sur la nécessité de réaliser plus d’études sur les impacts de ces particules de plastique sur la santé humaine.

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