Over the past 5 years  an increasing number of studies have reported the presence of micro- and nanoplastics in drinking water, air, food and soil. This raises questions and concerns about the impact of microplastics debris on human health, and had recently also been the driver behind the European Plastic Pact. In 2020 Nanoconsult has been contracted by ICCA to compose a white paper on the human health effects of microplastics by inhalation and oral intake.

The white paper indicates how read-across from other particle domains such as PSLT and ambient PM may help to advance decision making and learning in this phase. Interestingly, read-across has not been explored at this level of groups of (particle) substances. The best candidate for read-across emerging from this effort, is provided by the robust worldwide dataset of ambient PM, and the missing links regarding exposure measurements and hazard testing at relevant levels will be able to close the current data-gap. New emerging data on MP content in PM10 samples (first estimate: 2502/m3) will help in the next years to fill the first data gap for using PM data in MP health impact assessment. Finally, the paper provides a number of recommendations that have emerged from the gap analysis including accurate estimation of both oral and inhalation intake and uptake of MP.  The major challenge for this field and the regulatory bodies is in hazard identification, considering the low, chronic exposure to relevant model or real-life particles.


On Monday, Jan. 11, ZonMW presented the ‘knowledge agenda Microplastics and Health’ to the Dutch State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management. This knowledge agenda describes the most important knowledge gaps and calls for more research. In presenting this knowledge agenda, ZonMw also publicly announced the awarding of the MOMENTUM project. The key message from the knowledge agenda is the need for more research. ZonMw, TNO and Health~Holland, together with various knowledge institutions and industrial partners, are taking a first step in this direction. They are jointly providing 5.4 million euros in funding for the MOMENTUM consortium. The aim of this consortium is to determine the effects of micro- and nanoplastic particles (MNPs) on human health and ultimately to prevent this.Please see the press releases in the links below:

In Dutch: Wat doen microplastics in ons lichaam? – ZonMw

In English: What do microplastics do in our body? – ZonMw


Koelmans, A. A., Nor, N. H. M., Hermsen, E., Kooi, M., Mintenig, S. M., & De France, J. (2019). Microplastics in freshwaters and drinking water: critical review and assessment of data quality. Water research155, 410-422.

Levermore JM, Smith TEL, Kelly FJ, Wright SL. Detection of Microplastics in Ambient Particulate Matter Using Raman Spectral Imaging and Chemometric Analysis. Anal Chem. 2020 Jul 7;92(13):8732-8740.

Wright S.L., Kelly F.J. Plastic and human health: a micro issue? Environ. Sci. Technol. 17;51(12):6634–6647 (2017).

Wright SL, Ulke J, Font A, Chan KLA, Kelly FJ. Atmospheric microplastic deposition in an urban environment and an evaluation of transport. Environ Int. 2020 Mar;136:105411.