Researchers at the University of Queensland have been given a boost in their quest to find out exactly how harmful microplastics are to humans with the launch of a new specialist laboratory.
The Minderoo Centre – Plastics and Human Health will provide funding and equipment to researchers who are looking into the effect of nanoplastics on the human body.
Environmental health expert at UQ Kevin Thomas said having the resources to accurately measure nanoparticles of plastic meant they could answer some longstanding questions about their effect on the body.
“Plastic is in the environment, and it’s a very complicated situation because there are many different types of plastics, and it’s further changed in the environment through weathering,” he said.
“It’s a unique challenge because there is a complexity there we don’t quite understand, but there is already a lot of data to suggest humans are exposed to a lot of plastic particles, so we are trying to quantify what is the effect of that exposure.”
Microplastics have become increasingly ubiquitous in the environment over the last few decades, as they come from a range of sources, from plastic products like bottles to fragments of car tyres flaking off on roads.
And the problem is cumulative because the plastics continue to break down into smaller and smaller particles once they are in the environment.
Brisbane Times, 12-03-22