Microplastics and Cognitive Performance

Microplastics and Cognitive PerformanceMicroplastics and Cognitive Performance

Figure 1: Plastics degrade into micro- and nano-particles, acting as vectors for delivery of toxicmaterials[10] with profound negative conse-quences.There has historically been a lack of knowledge on ma-jor additives of concern in the plastic industry, and whatoccurs once they are disposed of into the environment[1][1] which canhave negative effects on human health[1, 7, 8] as well assurrounding marine and animal life[2, 6].

Inhaled nano-particles can affect neurons and depositin the brain, eliciting changed behaviour in animals[6].Animals with MNPs in their environment such as fishand rodents are also affected, with changes in biochem-ical expression[2], gut microbiota cross-talk[4], and neu-ronal damage[9].Animal models used to study human diseases haveshown concering effects such as brain abnormalities forprogeny with maternal exposure[3], negative learningand memory effects due to oxidative stress[11], inductionof Parkinson’s disease-like neurodegeneration[5], and in-duction of microglia causing neurotoxicity[9].

Key takeaways

  • Increases in plastic production and use have ledto widespread environmental pollution[8, 10] andpresent concern for humans and other ecosystemmembers which come into exposure with micro- andnano-plastics[7, 10].
  • Ingestion and inhalation are the major routes of ex-posure for humans and animals[7].
  • Depending on dose, particle size and material, var-ious negative effects are seen[1, 2, 7, 8, 10] whichare thought to potentially lead to increased vulner-ability to neuronal disorders[8] such as Parkinson’sdisease[5], learning inhibition[6, 11], and behavioralchanges[8][8][8]. Micro- and nano-sized particles(MNPs) have also been identified in air pollution[10][10][10]. Additionally, exposure through ingestion, in-halation, and dermal contact present additional vectorsfor human exposure[7].

Mode of Action and Pharmacological Effects

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