MOMENTUM researchers at the Plastic Health Summit

On October 21st, 2021, the Plastic Health Summit of the Plastic Soup Foundation took place in Amsterdam. Several MOMENTUM researchers participated in the event, such as Dick Vethaak, Heather Leslie, Hanna Dusza, Raymond Pieters, and Bas van der Zaan.

Raymond Pieters at the Plastic Health Summit

During this event, Dick Vethaak, DELTARES, introduced the topic of micro- and nanoplastics and human health and explained why plastics pollution is a potential public health hazard. He introduced the concept of applying a ONE HEALTH approach to investigate the interconnected risks to public health, animal health and ecosystem health, caused by plastic pollution.

Heather Leslie, from the VU, Amsterdam, presented her findings that microplastics have been detected in the bloodstream of farm animals. Plastic particles entering bloodstreams risk being deposited in organs, or potentially making their way into milk.

Raymond Pieters, Utrecht University (Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, IRAS), discussed initial indications that plastic particles in the air trigger an immune response. He showed that for hazard assessment it makes no difference to the immune system if the particles are plastic or something else.

Hanna Dusza at the Plastic Health Summit.

Hanna Dusza, Utrecht University (Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, IRAS), focussed on in vitro placental models. Her research, funded by ZonMw, showed that plastic particles of different sizes are efficiently taken up by placenta cells, where they may exert subtle effects on endocrine function.

Bas van der Zaan, DELTARES, explained that various micro-organisms can grow on the surface of microplastics while these are transported through water and air. The first steps to understand the health risks of these “microbial hitchhikers” are evaluating environmental microplastics, and studying the innate immune reaction when exposed to microbial contaminated water.

Want to know more?

> Read about the findings of Heather Leslie in Het Parool (in Dutch): Microplastics gevonden in de bloedbaan landbouwdieren, effect op gezondheid vermoed

> Listen to an interview with Raymond Pieters on Dutch radio (starts at 1:12:23)

> Read about Hanna Dusza’s research in an article of Gulf News: “Did you know your make-up could be risking your pregnancy?

> Read about Hanna Dusza’s research in Environment Journal:Microplastics may harm fetal health