Risk Posed by Microplastics: Scientific Evidence and Public Perception


Ana I. Catarino, Johanna Kramm, Carolin Völker, Theodore B. Henry, Gert Everaert


Microplastic pollution has sparked interest from researchers, public, industries, and regulators owing to reports of extensive presence of microplastics in the environment, household dust, drinking water, and food, which indicates chronic exposure to organisms within ecosystems and in human living spaces. Although exposure to microplastics is evident, negative effects from microplastics appear to be minimal in most studies on biota, and no risk assessments have been completed for microplastics on human health. Despite current evidence that indicates that microplastics present low risk to biota, there is public perception that microplastics are a serious environmental and human health risk, and this perception has motivated political action. The discrepancy between scientific evidence and public risk perception has generated debate among researchers within the natural and social sciences. Here, we review the evidence on the risks of microplastics to ecosystem and human health and consider the relation between evidence and public perception of microplastics risk.

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Catarino AI, Kramm J, Volker C, Henry TB, Everaert G. 2021. Risk posed by microplastics: Scientific evidence and public perception. Current Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry 29:e100467.