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Identifying microplastics to understand their impact on health and environment

The Water Research Centre Ltd. (WRc), part of the RSK Group, is an independent Centre of Excellence for Innovation and Growth. This project aims to develop risk assessment tools that incorporate New Approach Methodologies (NAMs) alongside traditional desk-based data gathering to assess the potential hazards presented by microplastics.


Microplastics are now being found everywhere – including in our bodies. Part of WRc’s business is working with the scientific community to develop alternatives to animal testing.

WRc working with Queen Mary, will use relevant human tissue and in silico models in this Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). As recommended by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the work will focus on nanolitre-scale, proteomic analysis and advanced imaging systems to identify chemicals that can impact key pathways of human disease. The combined risk assessment and toxicology testing will be the first-of-its-kind for the development of a microplastic risk assessment consulting service in the UK. Methods developed as part of this work will be validated and recommended to OECD to create global standard protocols for microplastic risk assessment.

This project is a new addition to Queen Mary’s KTP project portfolio.

“Innovation is at the heart of everything we do at WRc, and our exciting research into microplastics is no different. This will lift us from a world with no standard protocols for microplastic risk assessment…to a world with set safe concentrations of microplastic in drinking water.”
— Andy Blackhall, MD, WRc
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