In 2022, Plastics Europe launched a multimillion-euro, five-year (2022-2026) scientific research project: Brigid. This project aims to assess the potential risks to human health from microplastic exposure through ingestion. Ingestion, along with inhalation, is hypothesised to be the main entrance pathway of microplastics into our bodies.
Microplastic contamination is a global issue, and solutions are urgently needed. Looking forward, it is essential that any measures to tackle the microplastic issue are based on reliable science. However, scientists have not yet fully understood whether microplastic exposure has an effect on humans.
A five-year (2022-2026) scientific research project
These concepts are reflected in the three-armed Brigid’s cross, which has inspired the logo of our initiative – also a nod to the three-tiered experimental approach of cell, tissue, and organism testing. Brigid is focusing on microplastics of seven different polymer types:
- polyethylene (both linear low density & low/high density)
- (rigid) polyvinyl chloride
- and polyethylene terephthalate*
In the absence of robust real-world exposure data, these polymer types are assumed to be the most representative, amongst those produced by our members, of what the average person potentially encounters most often during their daily life.
*polyethylene terephthalate – will be only partially included in tests.
Brigid gets its name from the Celtic Goddess. Part of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the Goddess Brigid is associated with health, protection, and wisdom – three concepts reflected in the core values of project Brigid: gathering knowledge on microplastics, to ultimately protect the health of humans.
The structure of Brigid is divided in six interconnected Working Packages (WPs), see below:
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The project work is carried out by a Consortium of independent Partners: internationally known scientists from both private and public research institutes, such as the Wageningen University and Research (WUR) and the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek (TNO) in the Netherlands.
External Advisory Board
Brigid also has an Advisory Board of 13 independent members, bringing their different backgrounds – science, policy, NGO and governmental agencies – and perspectives together to recommend and advise on further steps.
The scientific work is ongoing, with our first project milestone being the completion of the Human Stool Study (HSS) by summer 2023. The study was conducted by an independent team of researchers with the aim of counting and characterising microplastics in human stool. Preliminary results have now been published with final results expected in June. More information on the aims and scoping of this study is available in the More Information box below.
Actions from the industry
We have been active on the global level to activate microplastic research and coordinate between national and international projects:
Brigid is part of the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) MARII initiative.
Brigid stands as a part of the plan which will bring Plastics Europe’s member companies toward their Safety, Sustainability, and Circularity goals. Our aim is to answer important questions about the potential effect of microplastics on humans, and, in the process, contribute to the development of evidence-based and effective policy making.
For information and questions, please send your inquiry to email@example.com
Microplastics Early Career Workshop 2023 – Monte Verità (CH)