SAPEA report: Evidence on microplastics does not yet point to widespread risk

SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) has published an Evidence Review Report today with the aim of informing the forthcoming Scientific Opinion from the European Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors on the issue of microplastics.

According to the report, the best available evidence suggests that microplastics and nanoplastics do not pose a widespread risk to humans or the environment, except in small pockets. But that evidence is limited, and the situation could change if pollution continues at the current rate.

The SAPEA report’s authors draw on a comprehensive examination of the best available evidence from the natural sciences and computer modelling, as well as social, political and behavioural sciences. They highlight that microplastics – tiny particles under 5mm in length – are already present across air, soil and sediment, freshwaters, seas and oceans, plants and animals, and in several components of the human diet. These particles come from a variety of sources, including plastic products, textiles, fisheries, agriculture, industry and general waste.

While high concentrations of these particles have been shown to cause physical harm to the environment and living creatures in controlled experiments, the authors point out that concentration levels measured in the real world are well below this threshold – though there are also limitations in the measurement methods currently available.

You can access the full SAPEA report here.

 

About SAPEA

SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) is an integral part of the European Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM), which provides independent, interdisciplinary, and evidence-based scientific advice on policy issues to the European Commission. SAPEA brings together outstanding knowledge and expertise from over 100 academies, young academies, and learned societies in over 40 countries across Europe. Funded through the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, the SAPEA consortium comprises Academia Europaea (AE), All European Academies (ALLEA), the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC), the European Council of Academies of Applied Sciences, Technologies and Engineering (Euro-CASE), and the Federation of European Academies of Medicine (FEAM).

For further information visit: www.sapea.info

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