WHO reviews exposure to microplastics and potential implications for human health

WHO has just published a new report to assess the potential health risks associated with exposure to nano- and microplastic particles (NMPs) from different sources, including air and diet.    

This report extends the assessment made in 2019 regarding microplastics in drinking water, drinking water sources, and wastewater.    

The new report is based on literature reviews of studies published up to December 2021 in which original data on the occurrence of NMPs in air, water, food, and beverages were reported, including also experimental studies on their toxicity.    

Given the difficulty of conducting quantitative analyses in the absence of standardized methods for assessing exposure and effects, the new WHO’s report indicates how the available evidence might be used to assess the implications of exposure to human health by assessing the quality of studies on exposure to and the effects of NMP, while also summarizing the occupational and epidemiological data on the biokinetics of exposure to particles.    

To summarize, the document:  
• sums up data on human exposure to NMP in food, beverages, drinking water and air and on the pathways specific to human health;  
• examines the implications for human health on the basis of data on occurrence, toxicology, and exposure;  
• when possible, identifies opportunities for mitigating exposure to NMP; and  
• identifies gaps in the data and proposes topics for research.