About this Research Topic
Plastic production, use and disposal may represent a high risk for the environment with possible adverse effects on human health. Whereas there is growing scientific evidence that plastic may contaminate the environment (with special emphasis on sea pollution), data on human health are still inconclusive, although it is suggested that micro and nanoplastics may potentially have an impact on humans. However, a plausible link between plastic environmental pollution and human health is lacking. The established presence of micro and nanoplastics in the environment does not automatically translate in the presence (or absence) of risk for humans.
Another important knowledge gap is represented by the absence of data on possible biological effects of micro versus nanoplastics. Available studies on non-plastic micro and nano materials suggest that nanomaterials may be more bioactive and harmful than micro-materials, and there is no reason to think that micro and nanoplastics behave in a different manner. Research focusing on nanoplastics, however, may be challenging due to technical problems in their identification, especially in biological matrices.
A final important point is represented by the need of a reliable cost-benefit analysis and accurate risk assessment. It should not be forgotten that plastic is a valuable material used in several important activities, ranging from health care to transport. Therefore, any limitation or ban linked to a possible risk for human health should be adequately justified.
In the light of these considerations, this Research Topic is mainly focused on, but not limited to, the following subtopics:
1. New insights on the toxicity of plastics on the environment.
2. Mechanisms of toxicity in aquatic and terrestrial animals and their possible extrapolation to humans.
3. Bioactivity of micro versus nanoplastics.
4. Procedures and tools for the identification of nanoplastics.
5. Epidemiological data of humans exposed to plastics (fish, seafood, food packaging, occupational exposure).
6. Models for risk assessment of nanoplastics in occupational settings.
7. Approaches to cost-benefit analysis and risk assessment.
8. Differential contribution in toxicological effects between micro/nanoplastics and plastic additives.
Original Research articles including experimental data may be appropriate for point 1 and 2, whereas Review articles seem the best option for point 4 and 5. Points 6 and 7 are more speculative and may therefore be the subject of Perspective articles.
You can find detailed information on the different article types available here.
Keywords: Microplastic, Nanoplastic, Environment, Human exposure, Human health
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