Microplastics: Human and Environmental Risks
This new EAS seminar course will cover human and environmental risks of both microplastics (MP) and nanoplastics. Plastic production is increasing exponentially; therefore, micro- and nanoplastic exposures and potential risks will continue to increase. These synthetic particles have become ubiquitous across a wide range of ecosystems- being transported by a myriad of processes. There are 5+ science publications and a myriad of popular press releases every day on microplastics. Only recently, has the science matured enough to accurately understand human and wildlife exposures and effects; with many earlier publications and regulatory actions misguided in terms of risk. Due to this reality, a large amount of misinformation has been circulated on microplastics, albeit in good faith. Just as our understanding of COVID-19 improved rapidly over the past few months, so has the science of microplastics. However, our understanding of much smaller nanoplastic exposures, effects, and risks is still in its infancy and is likely a greater concern.
Government, industry, academia and non-profit organizations are actively engaging to address these issues via improving sampling and analytical methods, understanding relative exposures (e.g., water (ambient and drinking), beverages, food/prey, air, soils, sediments) and effects of different types of particles (e.g., fibers, fragments, beads, and tire particles) and co-contaminants (e.g., PCBs, endocrine disruptors), environmental transport pathways and modeling, and how to better manage plastic pollution sources.