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Microplastic research from GRIAC researchers Barbro Melgert and Fransien van Dijk is attracting a lot of media attention

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26 November 2019

​​Indoor dust contains vast amounts of small plastic fibers predominantly stemming from textiles. These microfibers are small enough to be inhaled and plastic fibers have been detected in all samples of lung tissue of patients investigated for lung cancer. Owing to their size, shape and resistance to biological degradation, these microfibers have the potential to cause respiratory disease. At present, no studies have explored whether plastic microfibers can affect cells in lung tissue and GRIAC researchers Prof Dr Barbro Melgert and Dr Fransien van Dijk are addressing this lack of knowledge, in collaboration with Prof Dr Reinoud Gosens (GRIAC), Dr Anna Salvati (RUG), and Dr Matthew Cole (Plymouth Marine Laboratory), by studying how nylon and polyester microfibers affect lung growth using a system of minilungs, also known as organoids. The first results of these studies were presented on the first Plastic Health Summit on October 3 in Amsterdam. This event was organized by the ZonMW, who is funding the work, and the Plastic Soup Foundation. Even though the studies results come with many caveats, the take home message is that these microplastic fibers may not be as innocent as we thought they would be. So until we have a better picture of their exact effects, ventilate your house, vacuum often and avoid the use of plastics.​​​​​​​

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