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Microplastics and nanoplastics: what are they and what are their risks?

New research in the journal Frontiers suggests that broken down plastics can be carriers of a range of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC) that can harm human health. Microplastics form when plastics break down into smaller bits. Nanoplastics are the result of microplastics breaking down even more. The Frontiers article notes that the smaller the plastic particle the larger its absorption capacity, meaning the greater hypothetical threat to human health.

The Frontiers article is the latest in a growing body of research linking food and beverage products to the creation of microplastics, and now nanoplastics. It is important to note, however, that this research primarily establishes exposure only. It does not answer the far more important and relevant question of whether these exposures in fact cause any human health impacts. While microplastics and nanoplastics in food and beverages are thought to be linked to a myriad of brain, fertility, cellular, and immune system issues, none of the research to date has established causation. When reviewing the research, it is important to keep in mind the fundamental principle of toxicology: the dose makes the poison. The next step in the research will require an analysis of whether food and beverage products contain as sufficient amount of these EDC's to cause adverse human health consequences.

There is no doubt that this will be an evolving food and beverage issue in 2024. I for one will be closely monitoring it and will include it in subsequent posts.

Microplastics ... are well-known infiltrators of a wide variety of food and beverages. Now, researchers have found that nanoplastics, the even smaller offspring of microplastics, are present in stratospheric quantities in bottled water, unbeknownst to us until now.


food and beverage, microplastics, nanoplastics