The use of microplastics is not adequately controlled | ECHA proposes to restrict intentionally added microplastics

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ECHA has assessed the health and environmental risks posed by intentionally added microplastics and has concluded that an EU-wide restriction would be justified. If adopted, the restriction could result in a reduction in emissions of microplastics of about 400 thousand tonnes over 20 years.

ECHA’s assessment found that intentionally added microplastics are most likely to accumulate in terrestrial environments, as the particles concentrate in sewage sludge that is frequently applied as fertiliser. A much smaller proportion of these microplastics is released directly to the aquatic environment.

The persistence and the potential for adverse effects or bioaccumulation of microplastics is a cause for concern. Once released, they can be extremely persistent in the environment, lasting thousands of years, and practically impossible to remove. Currently it is not possible to determine the impact of such long-term exposure on the environment.

Data available on effects is limited, particularly for the terrestrial environment, which makes risk assessment difficult. Due to their small size, microplastics and nanoplastics – even smaller particles that are created from the further degradation of microplastics – may be readily ingested and thereby enter the food chain. The potential effects on human health are though still not well understood.

Overall, the use of microplastics in products that result in release to the environment is not adequately controlled.



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