Plastic debris is a human health issue

Published: 7 July 2016

Prof. Dick Vethaak (Deltares & Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and Dr. Heather Leslie (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) from the Netherlands assembled evidence that plastic debris, well known as a major problem in our seas and oceans, should be recognized as a human health issue as well.

Humans can be exposed to plastic debris, including micro- and nanosized plastic particles and the chemical additives leaching from plastic, via consumption of seafood and terrestrial food products, drinking water and the air. Human exposure to plastic debris can cause several adverse health effects. However, the level of exposure to plastic, toxic effects of long-term exposure and the underlying toxicological mechanisms are still poorly understood.

The authors make a strong plea for targeted research and information on the human health risks of plastic debris.