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Human immunotoxicological consequences of plastic particulate pollution

Our health is intrinsically related to the quality of the environment. Humans are exposed to unknown quantities of plastic particulate debris on a daily basis via air water and food. That’s why it is important to determine what adverse health outcomes may arise out of plastic particle pollution. One of the important mechanisms we think is involved in the toxicity of these particles is an interference with homeostatic immune function. This study seeks to answer the question if human blood actually contains plastic fragments. And if so, what kind of hazardous immune system effects can we expect? Using a human blood in vitro exposure model, we seek to understand the immunological signals that show us how small plastic particles may be interfering with homeostatic immune function.

This project is a collaboration between Dr. Heather Leslie of the Department of Environment and Health, VU Faculty of Science and Dr. Juan Garcia Vallejo of the Department of Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology, Amsterdam University Medical Center (VUmc location). The project was awarded research funding from The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) in the “Microplastics and Health” programme running from 2019-2020. The researchers in this project will be working closely with other research teams, including Deltares, UMCU, TNO, IRAS, RIVM and others in this nascent Dutch research area.

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Dr. Heather Leslie:

Dr. Garcia Vallejo: