Exposure to Plastic Additives and their Association with Oxidative Stress Biomarkers

Various chemical additives are added to polymers, which are substances composed of very large molecules, to modify and improve the properties of plastics. In most instances, these additives are not chemically bound to the polymer matrix and can leach from the materials, posing a threat to human health. Extensive studies have identified that many plastic additives, such as phthalates, bisphenols, and melamine, are highly hazardous. However, current studies provide little quantifiable information on human exposure to plastic additives through different pathways and the possible health effects caused by this exposure.

Human biomonitoring has become a “gold standard” in assessing chemical exposures and plays an important role in health risk assessment. By identifying which plastic additives people are exposed to and the subsequent health effects on the human body, a link can be established between plastic additive exposure and potential alterations in human health. Oxidative stress is one of the negative health effects of exposure to organic contaminants, characterised by an overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in relation to antioxidant defence. Elevated ROS production can have a harmful impact on molecules in the human body, including proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. A large amount of evidence has shown that oxidative stress can contribute, in varying degrees, to several diseases, including cancer, diabetes, metabolic disorders, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular diseases.

Therefore, this project aims to develop methods to determine contaminants and oxidative stress biomarkers in human urine and blood samples. By further applying these methods to explore the correlation between plastic additive exposure and oxidative stress biomarkers, as well as the interactive effects between co-exposure chemical mixtures, this project aims to contribute to the health risk assessment of human exposure to plastic additives and environmental contaminants.

Project members

Yuya Cheng

PhD Candidate (Minderoo Centre)

Dr Xianyu (Fisher) Wang

Senior Research Fellow

Dr Ian Zammit

Research Fellow

Prof Jochen Mueller

Theme Leader, Emerging Environmental Health Risks