Impact of Microplastics and Nanoplastics on Human Health

Nanomaterials (Basel). 2021 Feb 16;11(2):496. doi: 10.3390/nano11020496.


Plastics have enormous impacts to every aspect of daily life including technology, medicine and treatments, and domestic appliances. Most of the used plastics are thrown away by consumers after a single use, which has become a huge environmental problem as they will end up in landfill, oceans and other waterways. These plastics are discarded in vast numbers each day, and the breaking down of the plastics from micro- to nano-sizes has led to worries about how toxic these plastics are to the environment and humans. While, there are several earlier studies reported the effects of micro- and nano-plastics have on the environment, there is scant research into their impact on the human body at subcellular or molecular levels. In particular, the potential of how nano-plastics move through the gut, lungs and skin epithelia in causing systemic exposure has not been examined thoroughly. This review explores thoroughly on how nanoplastics are created, how they behave/breakdown within the environment, levels of toxicity and pollution of these nanoplastics, and the possible health impacts on humans, as well as suggestions for additional research. This paper aims to inspire future studies into core elements of micro- and nano-plastics, the biological reactions caused by their specific and unusual qualities.

Keywords: environmental impacts; health impacts; nanomaterials; nanoplastics; nanotoxicity; plastics; pollution; toxicology.

Publication types

  • Review