Actionable eUropean ROadmap for early-life health Risk Assessment of micro- and nanoplastics (AURORA)
The scale of micro- and nanoplastic (MNP) pollution is becoming increasingly clear yet little is known about how this pollution impacts health. The AURORA project will deliver an actionable European roadmap for early-life health risk assessment of MNPs to support regulation of MNPs and the products and processes that generate secondary MNPs, and development of safer alternatives. We will focus on MNP exposures and toxicological and health effects during pregnancy, in utero, and in
early life. These periods are critical for development and health later in life and are of heightened vulnerability to environmental insults. We have recently shown that MNPs are likely to cross the placental barrier in vitro and in vivo, underlying the urgent need to understand the impact of MNPs on reproductive and early-life health. AURORA will do so by significantly enhancing exposure assessment capabilities for measuring MNPs and MNP-associated chemicals (e.g. additives) in tissues relevant for early-life development (placenta, cord blood, amniotic fluid, meconium, fetal tissue). It willtake a unique approach by combining in-depth characterization methods (microscopy and spectroscopy) and scalable methods (mass-spectrometry) to develop methods for both detailed and large-scale toxicological, exposure assessment, and epidemiological studies. This will be combined with a novel tiered-testing approach and epidemiological investigations to provide the first extensive evaluation of maternal and fetal MNP exposures and health perturbations, including placental function, immune-inflammatory responses, oxidative stress, accelerated aging, endocrine disruption, and child development. In the course of developing and applying the tools and methodological workflows of the AURORA research program, we will create a risk assessment framework specific to MNPs and identify the remaining knowledge gaps and priorities needed for
comprehensively evaluating the impact of MNPs on early-life health.