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Possible cause of contradictory impact studies on microplastics

Ecotoxicological studies on the effects of microplastics on human health and the environment have, until now, frequently produced contradictory results. In relevant studies on the health risks due to microplastics, human tissue such as intestinal cells or marine organisms such as crabs and mussels were subjected to various microplastic particle concentrations in order to research the interactions with cell tissue. These microparticles were previously categorised according to the type of plastic, the shape and the size. Their chemical and physical properties were, however, seldom taken into account. An interdisciplinary research team from the University of Bayreuth headed by Prof. Dr. Christian Laforsch has now established that the characteristics of the conventional polystyrene that is frequently used in these studies differ significantly depending on the manufacturer, and that it also affects cell tissue differently. Generalised statements on health hazards or ecological risks from microplastics are therefore considered by the scientists to be problematical.

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