Applying EU hazard assessment frameworks to microplastics

Microplastics have been detected in the environment but a fulsome understanding of their hazards and risks requires additional research. This project looked at whether the existing EU hazard assessment framework could be applied to microplastics, examining the levels of microplastic that result in effects on aquatic organisms.

Organized by Cefic

Researchers / Institutional Affiliations

Principal Investigator

  • Dr. Bart Koelmans
    Wageningen University
    (The Netherlands)


  • Dr. Martine van den Heuvel-Greve
    Wageningen Marine Research
    (The Netherlands)
  • Dr. Ivo Roessink
    Wageningen Environmental Research
    (The Netherlands)


March 2019 to March 2021

Additional Information

The Microplastic Effect Thresholds for Aquatic Species (METAS) project assessed the applicability and adaptability of the existing EU hazard assessment framework to solid polymer particles. This provides insight into the relative hazard of these particles and helps to identify future targeted testing efforts. METAS also set out to offer guidance on testing methods for microplastic particles, and how to assess threshold levels of microplastics that affect aquatic organisms. The researchers provided guidance on the implications of the project’s findings for the environmental hazard and risk assessment of microplastics.

Further details are available here.

Professional Presentations

de Ruijter VN, Hof M, Kotorou P, van Leeuwen J, van den Heuvel Greve MJ, Roessink I, Koelmans AA. Testing the effects of environmentally relevant microplastic in sediment on sixteen invertebrate species under ecologically relevant conditions. Available here.

Published Papers

de Ruijter VN, Redondo-Hasselerharm PE, Gouin T, Koelmans AA. Quality Criteria for Microplastic Effect Studies in the Context of Risk Assessment: A Critical Review. Environmental Science & Technology, 2020, 54 (19), 11692-11705. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.0c03057. Available here.

de Ruijter VN, Hof M, Kotorou P, van Leeuwen J, van den Heuvel Greve MJ, Roessink I,
Koelmans AA. Microplastic Effect Tests Should Use a Standard Heterogenous Mixture:
Multifarious Impacts among 16 Benthic Invertebrate Species Detected under Ecologically Relevant Test Conditions. Environmental Science & Technology, 2023, 57 (48), 19430-19441. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.3c06829. Available 2Q2024.