2022 Research Topic: Microplastics

Credit: Cole Brookson

In 2022, CalSPEC supported the California Assembly Natural Resources and Senate Environmental Quality Committees to produce a report on microplastics. Microplastics are small fragments of plastic, which enter the environment through various sources, such as personal care products, clothing, and plastic packaging. The research surrounding the issue of microplastics is complex and broad. The report covered the different sources, pathways, and environmental fate of microplastics; presented a rapid systematic review of the health effects of microplastics; and summarized the current status of national, subnational, and multinational policies relating to microplastics mitigation and prevention. In essence, the report found that microplastics are ubiquitous and (based on extensive animal research) potentially harmful to human digestion, reproduction, and respiration. Policies to address some aspects of the problem (e.g. microbeads) are much further along than others (e.g., microfibers, road tire fragments, breakdown of macroplastics). 

Please send comments or questions to CalSPEC@ucdavis.edu.