Faculté des sciences et de médecine

Emergence of nanoplastic in the environment and possible impact on human health

Lehner, Roman ; Weder, Christoph ; Petri-Fink, Alke ; Rothen-Rutishauser, Barbara

In: Environmental Science & Technology, 2019, vol. 53, no. 4, p. 1748–1765

On account of environmental concerns, the fate and adverse effects of plastics have attracted considerable interest in the past few years. Recent studies have indicated the potential for fragmentation of plastic materials into nanoparticles, i.e., “nanoplastics,” and their possible accumulation in the environment. Nanoparticles can show markedly different chemical and physical properties... More

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    Summary
    On account of environmental concerns, the fate and adverse effects of plastics have attracted considerable interest in the past few years. Recent studies have indicated the potential for fragmentation of plastic materials into nanoparticles, i.e., “nanoplastics,” and their possible accumulation in the environment. Nanoparticles can show markedly different chemical and physical properties than their bulk material form. Therefore possible risks and hazards to the environment need to be considered and addressed. However, the fate and effect of nanoplastics in the (aquatic) environment has so far been little explored. In this review, we aim to provide an overview of the literature on this emerging topic, with an emphasis on the reported impacts of nanoplastics on human health, including the challenges involved in detecting plastics in a biological environment. We first discuss the possible sources of nanoplastics and their fates and effects in the environment and then describe the possible entry routes of these particles into the human body, as well as their uptake mechanisms at the cellular level. Since the potential risks of environmental nanoplastics to humans have not yet been extensively studied, we focus on studies demonstrating cell responses induced by polystyrene nanoparticles. In particular, the influence of particle size and surface chemistry are discussed, in order to understand the possible risks of nanoplastics for humans and provide recommendations for future studies.