Micro- and Nanoplastics and Public Health: EU research findings

June 25 , 12:00 pm 1:00 pm EDT

There is widespread concern about the ubiquity of micro- and nanoplastics (MNPs) in our environment. These tiny particles result from the degradation of  plastics, or are manufactured and added to products for a variety of purposes. They can find their way into the human body through the food, water or air. Yet, so far, we know little about human exposures and health effects.

Over the past three years, the European Commission has funded an informal network called the  Research Cluster to Understand the Health Impacts of Micro- and Nanoplastics (CUSP) dedicated to advancing our understanding of the health impacts associated with MNPs. Its latest policy brief, “Micro- and Nanoplastics and Public Health: A Reasonable Concern,” highlights key findings from CUSP’s research efforts and underscores the importance of addressing this emerging public health concern. CUSP is composed of five collaborating research projects: AURORA, ImpToxPLASTICHEAL, PlasticsFatE and POLYRISK.

The findings from these research projects can have far-reaching implications for European policies on chemicals, plastics, food, and water. Findings related to carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, reproductive toxicity, respiratory toxicity, and fate and exposure assessment of MNPs can trigger the need for, and inform, regulatory decision-making.

This webinar will highlight the work of two projects from the cluster: AURORA and POLYRISK.

Dr. Hubert Dirven (POLYRISK) will present research on exposure to micro- and nanoplastics in real-life scenarios and potential adverse effects on the immune system, for example in indoor soccer fields with artificial turf with rubber granulate infill. He will discuss knowledge gaps related to exposure and human health effects.

Prof. Roel Vermeulen (AURORA) will present research conducted to better understand how MNPs can affect pregnancy and development in early life.

The webinar will be moderated by Génon Jensen (Health and Environment Alliance, HEAL).

June 17 , 8:00 am June 18 , 5:00 pm EDT

Join hosts The 5 Gyres Institute and HATCH for a transformational two days of learning, leadership, and cross-sector networking in Los Angeles, California. Together the group will lay the groundwork for collective action – that companies, communities, policymakers, and citizens can look to for microfiber pollution solutions up- and downstream.

The WOVEN Symposium Series brings together the best minds across industries – from science to supply chain, materials design to filtration technology, research to reuse – to develop a collective vision for reducing microfiber pollution. Our current state of scattershot solutions cannot keep pace with the growing problem, but together, we can unlock a collective vision – a Roadmap to Reduce Microfiber Pollution.

  • Unpack the existing science and research;
  • Discuss advances in technology (materials, filtration, etc.);
  • Weave together ongoing efforts around the world;
  • Share best practices across industry;
  • Identify challenges within existing frameworks, industries, and society;
  • Create a community of like-minded leaders across the textiles sector; and
  • Draft a framework that brings shared solutions across industry – building upon the Microfiber Action Roadmap of 2018

Held in-person at: Otis College of Art and Design, 9045 Lincoln Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

April 18 , 6:00 pm 7:00 pm EDT

As concerns about plastic pollution reach a crescendo, recent research has uncovered a hidden threat in one of our most common commodities: bottled water. This groundbreaking study, conducted by researchers at Columbia Climate School’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), has revealed the presence of hundreds of thousands of previously uncounted tiny plastic particles in bottled water samples.

Columbia University invites you to explore what we have learned about the distribution and concentration of microplastics and nanoplastics in various environments, including our living spaces. We will discuss the major exposure pathways, penetration through biological barriers, and the potential health impacts, including developmental and neurological effects. We will also discuss the limitations of previous exposure assessment methods and the solutions our researchers have developed for quantifying nanoplastics.

Jeffrey Shaman: Interim Dean, Columbia Climate School; Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and of Climate

Beizhan Yan: Lamont Associate Research Professor, Geochemistry, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Julie Herbstman: Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, Columbia University; Director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health

May 2 , 7:00 pm 8:00 pm EDT

The negative impacts of plastic on human health are increasingly visible and increasingly costly. This March, the New England Journal of Medicine released the results of a study detecting micro- and nanoplastics in the carotid artery plaque of 58% of patients, and found that it measurably increased the risk of heart attack, stroke, and all-cause mortality in those patients.

What does this mean for us? On Thursday, May 2 from 7-8pm ET, please join Beyond Plastics for a conversation with Philip J. Landrigan, M.D. on Plastics and Your Health.

Plastic exacts a heavy price in human and environmental health. Micro-and nano plastics are present in the air, water, and soil, and throughout the food web. They are also present inside of us. Researchers have located micro- and nanoplastics in human intestine, placenta, liver, spleen, and lymph node tissues, as well as in blood, breast milk, and the fetus. Chemicals added to plastics such as PFAS, phthalates, and bisphenols are present in the bodies of nearly all Americans. Dr. Landrigan, who is a pediatrician and toxicologist, is at the forefront of research and thinking about what this means for our health and longevity. In the pages of March’s New England Journal he asks: Should exposure to microplastics and nanoplastics be considered a cardiovascular risk factor? What organs in addition to the heart may be at risk? How can we reduce exposure?

Register now to explore these critical and emergent questions.