Small plastic particles can be consumed by accidental swallowing of toothpaste, by consuming polluted seafood or even by inhalation of polluted air. To what extent the exposure to small plastic particles of varying shape, size and composition is a public health threat is unclear.


  • What effects do environmental small plastic particles have on epithelial integrity in lung or intestines?
  • Which particles are absorbed and what is their fate and possible effect on the body?
  • What are release kinetics of toxic chemicals from environmental small plastic particles inside the gastrointestinal tract, lungs and/or tissues?
  • How does the immune system deal with environmental small plastic particles? How do relevant plastic bound chemicals and pathogens influence these processes?
  • Which organs are most likely exposed to small plastic particles if and once the particles are absorbed and what are cellular effects in those organs?

Part of programme

Microplastics & Health

Published on

27 June 2018


20 September 2018,

Read the complete grant call

Do you want to apply? The entire grant call can be accessed using the link below. Here you can find all the specific information about the call.

Microplastics & Health call (pdf) 363 KB

Purpose of call

The general aim of the call is to gain insight into possible health threats and the biological mechanisms that might be involved when humans are exposed to small plastic particles via oral or inhalation routes.
There are three sub-aims:

  1. To gain data on the kinetics (uptake, distribution, excretion, accumulation) of different environmental small plastic particles
  2. To investigate potential (toxic) effects of small plastic particles on human physiology and immunology
  3. To investigate the potential health risks of microbiological hazards: pathogens on plastic substrates.

Sums available

Projects will have a maximum duration of 12 months. These so-called ‘breakthrough projects’ are considered ‘high risk-high gain’ research.  The aim is to develop an innovative idea into a proof of concept. Total budget available for projects at the time of publication of the call is €1.080.000, the Gieskes Strijbis foundation contribution is included in this budget. More budget is likely but not confirmed.


Proposals need to address one of the three sub-aims of the call. Method development or fine-tuning of an existing method for the detection of small environmental plastic particles in human matrices  can be part of the proposed project, however projects must go further than just method of measurement development.

Eligible candidates

Applications may be submitted (main applicant) by PhD graduates (e.g. post-docs) with a permanent or temporary position with Dutch institutions for scientific education and research and institutions recognized for this call by ZonMw. The main applicant, must devote at least 0.2 FTE to the project. There is at least one co-applicant working on the project with a different expertise.


Applicants can apply for a maximum of €100.000 per project, or €120.000 if there is also international collaboration. Matching in cash or in kind by the participating research institutes is appreciated, but not required as such.

Submitting application

You may submit your application via ProjectNet until September 20th 2018, 14.00hrs.

Download all information

Do you want to apply? The entire grant call can be accessed using the link below. Here you can find all the specific information about the call.

Microplastics & Health call (pdf) 363 KB

Submit application


Please contact us with any questions that are not covered in the FAQs. For general queries, please contact Catherine Schuttevaer. If you have any technical questions about ProjectNet please contact the service desk.

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