Risk posed by microplastics: Scientific evidence and public perception

Ana I. Catarino, Johanna Kramm, Carolin Völker, Theodore B. Henry, Gert Everaert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Microplastic pollution has sparked interest from researchers, public, industries, and regulators owing to reports of extensive presence of microplastics in the environment, household dust, drinking water, and food, which indicates chronic exposure to organisms within ecosystems and in human living spaces. Although exposure to microplastics is evident, negative effects from microplastics appear to be minimal in most studies on biota, and no risk assessments have been completed for microplastics on human health. Despite current evidence that indicates that microplastics present low risk to biota, there is public perception that microplastics are a serious environmental and human health risk, and this perception has motivated political action. The discrepancy between scientific evidence and public risk perception has generated debate among researchers within the natural and social sciences. Here, we review the evidence on the risks of microplastics to ecosystem and human health and consider the relation between evidence and public perception of microplastics risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100467
JournalCurrent Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry
Early online date16 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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