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Federal government funding university research into microplastics’ health impacts

McGill University, Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Toronto sharing $2.1M in funding

January 23, 2024  By Ground Water Canada

The federal government is providing funding to three Canadian universities to research the impact on human health by microplastics.

McGill University, Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Toronto will share $2.1 million over four years to learn more about how microplastic pollution in drinking water, food and food packaging, indoor and outdoor air, and dust affects human health.

Collectively, the initiatives are expected to improve the understanding of the potential impacts of microplastics on human health.


“There is a lot we don’t know about the effect of microplastics on human health,” Health Minister Mark Holland said. “That is why programs like this one were created – to support Canadian scientists in improving the understanding of the human health impacts of microplastics. These projects will not only expand our knowledge, but hopefully inspire more research and inform future actions to protect the health of Canadians.”

Microplastics can come from various sources such as microfibres released from washing of clothes or microbeads released through wastewater. Microplastics can also be formed through the breakdown of larger plastic items in the environment. Humans may be exposed to microplastics via the ingestion of food, bottled water, and tap water, as well as through the breathing of indoor and outdoor air.

The Environmental Health Research Contribution Program funds research to increase people’s knowledge of the health impacts of microplastics, improve monitoring of human exposure to microplastics, and encourage the development of new methods, approaches and technologies related to human health risks of microplastics.

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