The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for further research into the potential impacts of microplastics on human health.
It follows the release of an analysis of current research related to microplastics in drinking water which showed that while microplastics larger than 150 micrometres are not likely to be absorbed in the human body and uptake of smaller particles is expected to be limited, absorption and distribution of very small microplastic particles including in the nano size range may be higher.
“We urgently need to know more about the health impact of microplastics because they are everywhere, including in our drinking water,” said Dr Maria Neira, Director, Department of Public Health, Environment and Social Determinants of Health, at the WHO. “Based on the limited information we have, microplastics in drinking water don’t appear to pose a health risk at current levels. But we need to find out more.”
The report says further research should include quality-assured toxicological data on the most common forms of plastic particles relevant for human health risk assessment. It says a better understanding of the uptake and fate of microplastics and nanoplastics following ingestion is also needed.