Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that small plastic particles from our living environment are present in the human circulatory system. The research team from VU Amsterdam and Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc, published their results today.

blood microplastics research

Cutting edge research results

The results from the study ‘IMMUNOPLAST: Human immunotoxicological consequences of plastic particulate pollution’ (in Dutch) were published in the scientific journal ‘Environment International’. The team of researchers, led by ecotoxicologist Heather Leslie and analytical chemist Marja Lamoree, demonstrated that people take in microplastics from the environment on a daily basis and that the quantities present in their blood can be measured. This is something for which previous indications emerged from earlier laboratory experiments. Read more about this research in the press release from VU Amsterdam.

Follow-up research needed

Frank Pierik, programme manager Microplastics & Health at ZonMw says: ‘We need to realise that these are only the initial findings. There is still a long way to go before a proper risk assessment can be made.’ One follow-up question, for example, is how easily these particles can move from the circulatory system into organs and whether they cause any health effects there.

Microplastics & Health

This research was funded from ZonMw’s programme Microplastics & Health and by Common Seas (United Kingdom). With this programme, ZonMw facilitates the development of knowledge about the possible health effects of small plastic particles and what might be done to limit these effects. All 15 short projects in this programme have now been completed. Next, the researchers from these projects will join forces in the public-private consortium MOMENTUM. Extra follow-up research is also still required in order to predict the health risks of nano- and microplastics and possible solutions for this problem more tangible, as stated in the knowledge agenda published last year. The funding for the 15 ZonMw projects came from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and the Gieskes-Strijbis Fund.

Microplastics and the living environment

Microplastics is one of the subjects in the ZonMw theme Healthy living environment (in Dutch). We seek to provide policymakers and researchers with knowledge and tools so that they, together with other parties, may contribute to current and future societal and scientific challenges concerning a healthy living environment.

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