Due to their small size (1 nm – 1 µm), nanoplastic particles can overcome certain barriers and accumulate in organisms or environmental compartments. In addition, undesirable chemicals such as flame retardants or plasticizers can bind to the nanoplastic particles and be released later, e.g. after uptake in environmental organisms. Currently, the estimated concentration of nanoplastics in the environment is very low and has no serious impact on plants and animals.
Microplastic (1 µm – 1 mm) particles currently pose a greater threat to humans and the environment due to higher measured environmental concentrations. Research groups around the world are currently working on this topic. It is expected that the number of microplastics as well as nanoplastic particles will strongly increase worldwide in the next decades via the gradual decomposition of plastics in the environment.
- For more information on this topic, please refer to the article in our cross cutting section “Nanoplastic in the environment”