03 May 2024 CUSP NEWS

The latest CUSP Policy Brief is out! Read and download now.

CUSP, the European Research Cluster to understand the health effects of micro- and nanoplastics has published its latest policy brief, titled "Micro- and Nanoplastics and Public Health: A Reasonable Concern". 


Over the past three years, CUSP has been dedicated to advancing our understanding of the health implications associated with MNPs. The policy brief highlights key findings from CUSP's research efforts and underscores the importance of addressing this emerging public health concern.



Health Concerns: 

MNPs pose a significant public health concern, although the exact risks remain unclear. The hazards, exposures, and risks of individual types of plastics and their specific chemical additives need further investigation, especially regarding long-term effects.

Research Highlights: 

CUSP researchers have documented potential carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, and reproductive toxicity of MNPs, with nanoplastics exhibiting more pronounced effects than microplastics.

Exposure Routes: 

MNPs can enter the human body through inhalation and ingestion, with small MNPs capable of translocating into the bloodstream.

Research Gaps:

Most studies conducted thus far are short-term, highlighting a significant gap in understanding the long-term effects of MNPs on human health. More research is needed to establish dose-responses and modes of action.

Future Directions:

It is crucial for future studies to explore representative MNPs of different chemical compositions and physico-chemical characteristics resembling those found in the environment.


The findings from CUSP's research have far-reaching implications for European policies and legislation on chemicals, plastics, food, and water. Areas such as carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, reproductive toxicity, respiratory toxicity, and fate and exposure assessment of MNPs can inform regulatory decision-making processes.

Addressing Knowledge Gaps:

The policy brief also highlights several knowledge gaps that require attention, including:

  • the need for representative materials,
  • transparency in information,
  • improvements in in vitro testing methods,
  • understanding body barriers,
  • conducting long-term studies,
  • establishing causal linkages,
  • optimizing analytics,
  • exploring vector effects,
  • ensuring regulatory acceptance,
  • assessing environmental fate and exposure, and
  • identifying high-risk population groups.


We encourage you to review the full policy brief for a comprehensive understanding of CUSP's research findings and their implications. Your engagement and collaboration in addressing this important public health issue are invaluable.

You can download the brief from the CUSP website here and from Zenodo here.

Imptox is part of CUSP, together with its sister projects PlasticsFate, Polyrisk, Aurora and Plasticheal. The cluster contains 75 organizations from 21 countries and aims to answer key micro- and nanoplastics related questions on human health as well as provide policy-relevant scientific data.