Microplastic Research Group
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Why microplastics are dangerous?

There are many effects of microplastic pollution. It is necessary to consider the effects of microplastics in two main categories. The first is that ingestion of plastics by organisms. The second is the particle and chemical effectsof microplastics.

Many studies show that microplastics can be ingested by many animals. The most known of these are; dead birds that have been found full of plastics in their stomachs.

Studies up to now show that more than 1000 sea animalsare directly affected by microparticles. (For detailed information: http://litterbase.awi.de/)

Most polymers, for example polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene(PP), are generally considered biologically inert. Some of themonomersand oligomers used in plastic products have, however, been shown toleach during usage and have subsequently been found in humans. Commonlymentionedexamples are bisphenol A (BPA), amonomeric buildingblock of polycarbonate (PC), but also used as an additive in otherplastics, and styrene, used in the production of polystyrene (PS) whichis commonly used in styrofoam packaging. Both of these monomersare suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). BPA is one ofthe relatively few chemicals associated with plastics that have beenstudied extensively and it has repeatedly been reported in urine,blood, breast milk and tissue samples. The main exposurepathways are considered to be inhalation, dermal contact and ingestionand there is a growing body ofevidence that many of the additional monomers, oligomers andchemicals related to plastics can adversely affect humans, with exposurebeing correlated to e.g. reproductive abnormalities.

One group of chemicals that is commonly used as additives in plasticconsumer products are phthalates such as di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP)and di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP). Phthalates are associated with a wide range of health effects in animalsand humans, and due to their extensive use they are often found inurine and blood samples from humans (Hauser and Calafat, 2005).Phthalates have been associated with developmental anomalies; it hasfor instance been shown to affect pubertal development, male and femalereproductive health, pregnancy outcomes and respiratory health.

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