The call for proposals on Microplastics & Health is online! Research projects with a maximum duration of a year will be funded in this call concerning health effects of micro- and nanoplastics.


Sources of micro- en nanoplastics

Plastic garbage is polluting oceans, rivers, soil and air globally. Large pieces of plastic disintegrate into smaller and smaller plastic particles eventually reaching micro or nano scale particles. Some microplastics are added to cosmetic products during production, after use of these microplastics end up in sewage water from which they are not yet fully filtered. Washing clothes that are made from synthetic materials further adds to microplastic in sewage water. A different type of microplastic particles originates from car tyre dust which occurs from abrasion on the road. The total result is a diverse mix of small plastic particles which are hardly degradable entering the environment.
These particles can enter the food chain from the bottom up, starting with for example filter feeders such as mussels and oysters, who absorb micro- en nanoplastics from the ocean.  People can also be exposed to microplastics by accidentally swallowing microplastic containing toothpaste or by breathing air that is polluted with micro- and nanoplastics.

Purpose of the call

The general aim of the call is to gain insight into possible interaction and effects of small plastic particles at cell- or organ level in people. Lab techniques including organ models with -among others- lung and intestines offer opportunities for this research, just as the micro versions of these models on chips.
An additional purpose of the call is to (further) develop innovative methods for measuring small plastic particles in human matrices. The idea is that the research projects in this call will achieve proof-of-concept within a year and offer insight into potential health risks for humans following exposure to micro- and nanoplastics through breathing or swallowing small plastic particles.

International project proposals

Micro- and nanoplastics occur globally. The area of research concerning possible health effects of small plastic particles on humans is only just starting to develop, international collaboration is essential to  accelerate the area of research quickly. Within the research projects international collaboration is stimulated with extra budget. In this call research proposals must focus on real small plastic particles as they are likely to occur in the environment. These particles are irregularly shaped, and highly variable in terms of size and chemical composition.


Do you have an idea for a research proposal aimed at health effects of micro- and nanoplastics and are you considering applying for a grant at ZonMw? The call for proposals offers more information on the aims and requirements for submitting a proposal.

Deadline of the call is September 20th, 2018!

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