Dr Stephanie Wright

How plastic pollution affects our health: Dr Stephanie Wright, MRC Centre for Environment and Health.

Video credit: UKRI
On-screen captions and an autogenerated transcript are available on YouTube.

In the run-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), we asked our researchers to tell us about their work and the challenges of tackling climate change.

Dr Stephanie Wright is a lecturer of Environmental Toxicology in the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Environment and Health, leading the Microplastics Research team.

Stephanie’s team is looking to understand the impact on human health from plastic pollution in the form of microplastics. These microscopic particles and fibres are created when plastic is produced, but they are so small, they are invisible to the naked eye.

Elevated exposure to other types of particles in the air can lead to disease and premature mortality, but we don’t know the role microplastic has within that. Microplastics come from a range of sources from clothes and carpets to transport and construction, so to minimise our exposure and improve health we need to reduce plastic production and by doing so we will be reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Stephanie said:

This is an important challenge to solve because we know that efforts are being made to regulate other sources of air pollution, and are being successful. But plastic and microplastic release is not being regulated, so as other emissions start to tail off and drop, the proportion of microplastic in air pollution is going to increase, and so it really is an issue if not now, for the future.

Last updated: 4 November 2021

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