The potential toxicity of microplastics on human health

Bosen Zhao, Palizhati Rehati, Zhu Yang, Zongwei Cai, Caixia Guo*, Yanbo Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Microplastics are plastic particles, films, and fibers with a diameter of < 5 mm. Given their long-standing existence in the environment and terrible increase in annual emissions, concerns were raised about the potential health risk of microplastics on human beings. In particular, the increased consumption of masks during the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased human contact with microplastics. To date, the emergence of microplastics in the human body, such as feces, blood, placenta, lower airway, and lungs, has been reported. Related toxicological investigations of microplastics were gradually increased. To comprehensively illuminate the interplay of microplastic exposure and human health, we systematically reviewed the updated toxicological data of microplastics and summarized their mode of action, adverse effects, and toxic mechanisms. The emerging critical issues in the current toxicological investigations were proposed and discussed. Our work would facilitate a better understanding of MPs-induced health hazards for toxicological evaluation and provide helpful information for regulatory decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number168946
Number of pages16
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date2 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2024

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

User-Defined Keywords

  • Exposure pathway
  • Health hazard
  • Microplastics
  • Toxicity


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