Toxicity of micro and nanoplastics on health

Microplastics come from various sources: they are found massively in products such as cosmetics, personal and household hygiene products, building materials, industries and agriculture

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Toxicity of micro and nanoplastics on health

Microplastics come from various sources: they are found massively in products such as cosmetics, personal and household hygiene products, building materials, industries and agriculture. In cosmetics, microplastics often constitute up to 90% of the total weight of the product, as in the case of skin exfoliants.

Tire wear also produces microplastics. A large quantity of microplastics is of household origin, such as those coming from the washing of synthetic garments, which are poured into the water. This problem can be reduced by special filters, washing at low temperatures and the use of liquid detergents.

Agriculture is also a producer of microplastics. The sheets that are used to mulch disintegrate into the soil when they are not collected and disposed of properly at the end of the crop cycle. Left on the ground, plastics can degrade by abrasion, by atmospheric agents and by the action of insects or mammals.

Microplastic pollution caused by very small waste that infiltrates the environment and food is considered a threat to ecosystems and human health.

Toxicity of micro and nanoplastics on health

Reproductive toxicity of micro and nanoplastics, study published on the Environment international, made a review on the issue.

The researchers explained: "Large-scale plastic pollution occurs in terrestrial and marine environments and degrades into microparticles (MP) and nanoparticles (NP) of plastic. Micro/nanoplastics (MP/NPs) are found throughout the environment and different kinds of marine organisms and can enter the human body through inhalation or ingestion, particularly through the food chain.

MPs/NPs can enter different organisms, and affect different body systems, including the reproductive, digestive, and nervous systems via the induction of different stresses such as oxidative stress and endoplasmic reticulum stress.

This paper summarizes the effects of MPs/NPs of different sizes on the reproduction of different organisms including terrestrial and marine invertebrates and vertebrates, the amplification of toxic effects between them through the food chain, the serious threat to biodiversity, and , more importantly, the imminent challenge to human reproductive health.

There is a need to strengthen international communication and cooperation on the remediation of plastic pollution and the protection of biodiversity to build a sustainable association between humans and other organisms."