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Atmospheric micro and nanoplastics: health effects and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

Grant number: 21/10187-7
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): October 17, 2022
Effective date (End): October 16, 2023
Field of knowledge:Engineering - Sanitary Engineering
Principal Investigator:Roberta Cerasi Urban
Grantee:Roberta Cerasi Urban
Host Investigator: Iseult Lynch Yilmaz
Host Institution: Centro de Ciências Exatas e de Tecnologia (CCET). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of Birmingham, England  

Abstract

The widespread production and use of plastics revolutionized the modern world, contributing, for example, to improvements in health through personal protective equipment (PPEs), but also causing environmental pollution. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for PPEs was greatly increased, and their mismanagement may result in greater environmental contamination. Although micro (MPs) and nanoplastics (NPs) have been determined in several different environments, their presence in the atmosphere is still poorly studied, especially in Brazil. Occupational diseases related to exposure to plastic materials, as well as the presence of these materials in human tissues, have already been reported, but the implications of atmospheric MPs and NPs on human health need to be better understood. The main objective of this project is to assess the impact of the atmospheric MPs and NPs on human health, including the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic. For this, samples of MPs are being collected in São Carlos city (São Paulo State), and in the United Kingdom's second city, Birmingham. In addition, studies of MPs and NPs emissions to the atmosphere during the radiation accelerated aging of disposable masks will be carried out. Additionally, studies of the corona (proteins and metabolites) formed on the MPs and NPs in lung cells during exposure and its evolution as the particles are taken up into the cells will be carried out, comparing MPs and NPs present in the atmosphere and those formed during the degradation of masks, using an air-liquid interface in vitro cellular model to mimic inhalation exposure. These toxicological studies have never been carried out and will also help a better assessment of implications of the MPs and NPs in human health. The exchange of information between the different multidisciplinary groups involved in this research should be very enriching, leading to results of great impact and two-way transfer of knowledge. (AU)

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