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The Minderoo-Monaco Commission on Plastics and Human Health

Collection launched: Mar 21, 2023

We are exposed to plastics in every aspect of our daily lives, and plastics’ uses are increasing constantly. Plastic production is expected to treble in the next three decades due to redirection of fossil fuel production forced by the worldwide shift to electric vehicles. If not controlled, this trend will significantly increase global environmental contamination and damage health. These impacts will especially burden the world’s most disadvantaged populations.

More than 10,000 synthetic chemicals, including phthalates, bisphenols, per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), brominated flame retardants and organophosphate flame retardants are integral components of plastics. Unfortunately, these components leach out during daily use, and toxicological and epidemiological evidence shows increasingly that many of them have neurotoxic, carcinogenic, immune and endocrine-disrupting impacts on human health.

Microplastics are fine particles produced by the degradation of plastic waste. Due to their small size, they easily diffuse in the environment, and they contaminate marine species, birds (Sarkar et al., 2023), food and drinking water (Ziani et al., 2023). The massive amount of personal protective equipment utilized today for protection against the Covid-19 pandemic is further increasing the volume of plastic waste.

The Minderoo-Monaco Commission on Plastics and Human Health has produced an extensive analysis of the plastics’ negative impacts on: i) human health and well-being focusing on vulnerable populations, ii) on the global environment focusing on ocean health, and iii) the economy. The report includes highly valuable sustainable solutions that can be implemented by governments and industries to minimize the negative consequences of global plastic contamination This is an urgent problem that must be addressed in the worldwide agenda in parallel to climate change, as they are closely interconnected.

The Commission urges adoption by the world’s nations of a Global Plastics Treaty aimed to cap plastic production and end plastic pollution by 2040 The Commission recommends that principles of Social and Environmental Justice be core components of the Global Plastic Treaty.

Support for this Treaty at the national and global levels with strong involvement of WHO, PAHO, UNEP and all international agencies and NGOs involved in maintaining and improving the planet’s health will be essential.

Roberto G. Lucchini, MD, Deputy Editor, Annals of Global Health
Professor of Occupational and Environmental Health, Florida International University, Miami, FL, USA, and the University of Brescia, Italy.


Special thanks go to the report’s reviewers Drs. Joacim Rocklöv and Marina Treskova, University of Heidelberg, Germany, and Dimitri Deheyn, University of California, San Diego, USA.


Sarkar, S., Diab, H., & Thompson, J. (2023). Microplastic Pollution: Chemical Characterization and Impact on Wildlife. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 20(3).

Ziani, K., Ioniță-Mîndrican, C. B., Mititelu, M., Neacșu, S. M., Negrei, C., Moroșan, E., Drăgănescu, D., & Preda, O. T. (2023). Microplastics: A Real Global Threat for Environment and Food Safety: A State of the Art Review. Nutrients, 15(3).