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Understanding exposure and toxicity of microplastic and nanoplastic contaminants in humans.

We know plastic particles are outside the body but how much plastic particle pollution is present in the human body? Is it being absorbed inside our bodies, and if so, what kind of impact is it having on human health? The POLYRISK consortium brings together a team of Europe’s top laboratories and risk assessors to measure plastic particles and their immuntoxicological effects on the human body. The project will i) develop and validate high tech methods for the detection, quantification and characterization of plastic particles in both the nanometer and micrometer particle size ranges; ii) assess epithelial transfer of the particles and their proinflammatory effects both in vitro and in real-life scenarios with humans in normal everyday scenarios; iii) develop an effective human risk assessment strategy and iv) exchange and communicate knowledge with stakeholders.

@VU E&H Dr. Heather Leslie is leading the analytical chemistry workpackage in POLYRISK and co-coordinating the project with Dr. Raymond Pieters  at IRAS, Utrecht University. Another POLYRISK partner on the VU campus and close collaborator of Dr. Leslie on plastic particle research since 2018 is Dr. Juan Garcia Vallejo, immunologist at the Department of Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology at the Amsterdam University Medical Center (VUmc location). POLYRISK is a 4-year EU H2020 research and innovation action project, starting in April 2021. This is the first time the European Commission is sponsoring research into the human exposure and health hazards of plastic particles. POLYRISK collaborates with the H2020 AURORA project. Both POLYRISK and AURORA projects are being carried out at VU-E&H, starting 1 April 2021.

POLYRISK Consortium partners:

Utrecht University (UU)
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA)
Amsterdam UMC (VUmc location)
German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)
Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM)
Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin (BAuA)
Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH)
University Medical Centre Utrecht (UMCU)
The Research Development National Institute for Textile and Leather (INCDTP)
Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA)
Ideaconsult Ltd. (IDEA)
Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)
Fraunhofer-Center für Silizium-Photovoltaik (CSP)
European Research Services (ERS)

Link: [project website under construction]

Contact: Dr. Heather Leslie,