Assessing microplastic inhalation toxicity

This project aims to develop improved tools to test the inhalation toxicity of microplastics to humans.

Organized by Cefic

Researchers / Institutional Affiliations

Principal Investigator

  • Dr. Tanja Hansen
    Fraunhofer Institute of Toxicology and Experimental Medicine


  • Dr. Wendel Wohlleben
  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. Silke Christiansen
    Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems


January 2022 to April 2024.

Additional Information

Routes of human exposure to microplastics may including drinking water, food, and air pollution. Nano- and micro-plastic particles are detectable in numerous aquatic organisms and in human biomonitoring samples. This project used a tiered approach to assess the inhalation
toxicity of various microplastics. Objectives included: identifying factors that determine inhalation toxicity; identifying existing approaches for other solid, inhalable particles that might be usefully applied to microplastics; using a tiered testing approach; ranking microplastics by their relevance for human risk assessment, specifically human hazard by inhalation; and based on the ranking, providing recommendations for confirmatory in vivo studies.

Further details are available here.

Professional Presentations

Hansen T, Santizo K, Sarau G, Kolle S, Kraus A, Ritter D, Knebel J, Schwarz K, Escher S, Christiansen S, Wohlleben W. Towards a tiered strategy to assess microplastic inhalation toxicity. EUROTOX: September 2023.

Santizo K, Mangold H, Wohlleben W, Sarau G, Christiansen S, Hansen T. Microplastic References for Inhalation Toxicity. Inhaled Particles Conference: May 2023.

Published Papers