(EN) (PDF) – Environmental and health risks of microplastic pollution | Directorate-General for Research and Innovation


Knowledge of ecological and health risks of microplastic pollution is surrounded by considerable uncertainty. However, if microplastic pollution continues at the present rate, these risks will increase and, in particular, widespread ecological risks are likely in the coming decades. The absence of population-wide studies means that it is not yet possible to assess risks for human health. Ongoing and planned EU policy measures aim to reduce all plastic pollution including microplastics. But what more, if anything, should be done now as a precaution against future risks from microplastics? This scientific opinion, informed by a SAPEA evidence review report makes recommendations to advise debate, policy and practice in this and related areas. Highlights include calls to:

  • Broaden existing policy to prevent and reduce microplastic pollution in water, air, and soil; and to prioritise substance- and context-specific measures for high-volume, high-emission sources;
  • Ensure benefit to society of microplastic pollution preventative measures by taking into account socio-economic cost-benefit analyses, trade-offs and wide environmental aspects in the design of such measures; and
  • Develop a coordinated international response consisting of research collaboration (including filling knowledge gaps on nanoplastic pollution), data sharing and standards development for measurement, monitoring and risk assessment.

PDF file, 64 pages

via Publications Office of the EU

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