Plastic Debris Is a Human Health Issue

A.D. Vethaak, H.A. Leslie

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    The global threat of highly persistent plastic waste
    accumulating and fragmenting in the world’s oceans,
    inland waters and terrestrial environments is becoming
    increasingly evident.1−3 Humans are being exposed to both
    plastic particles and chemical additives being released from the
    plastic debris of consumer society. This material is fragmenting,
    leaching and spreading throughout the biosphere, including
    indoor and outdoor air, soil, and water systems. What started as
    a marine environmental contamination issue is in fact very
    much a human health issue as well. What do we know so far
    about the impacts of this plastic debris for humans?
    Humans can be exposed to plastic particles via consumption
    of seafood and terrestrial food products, drinking water and via
    the air.1,4 Uptake of plastics by humans (and animals) can cause
    adverse health effects by at least three possible means: particle toxicity, chemical toxicity and as a pathogen and parasite vector.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)6825−6826
    Number of pages2
    JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2016


    • plastic debris
    • human health
    • particle toxicity
    • microplastic
    • chemical toxicity
    • marine litter
    • pathogens

    VU Research Profile

    • Science for Sustainability


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