- Project Name: Actionable eUropean ROadmap for early-life health Risk Assessment of micro- and nanoplastics (AURORA)
- Focuses on researching early-life human health impacts from exposure to micro- and nanoplastics
- Funded by the European Union under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program
- Started in April 2021 and runs for 5 years
- Involves 11 partner organizations from 9 different countries
- Is one of five Horizon 2020 projects within the CUSP research cluster investigating the health impacts of micro- and nanoplastics
AURORA’s 7 objectives
- Objective 1: develop new, low-throughput METHODS for in-depth characterization of micro- and nanoplastics in complex matrices (e.g. human tissues, foodstuffs, etc.)
- Objective 2: innovate high-throughput METHODS for use in large scale health studies of diverse human populations
- Objective 3: assess health EFFECTS in placenta and the developing fetus
- Objective 4: EPIDEMIOLOGY – study effects of micro- and nanoplastics exposure in human populations (including two birth cohort studies)
- Objective 5: deliver an actionable roadmap for RISK ASSESSMENT by integrating results from the other objectives
- Objective 6: COMMUNICATE research findings, make results actionable to stakeholders, support stakeholder dialogue
- Objective 7: MANAGE the project, coordinate with other CUSP research cluster projects
The scale of micro- and nanoplastic (MNP) pollution is becoming increasingly clear yet little is known about how this pollution impacts health. The team of international researchers within the AURORA project are developing an actionable European roadmap for early-life health risk assessment of MNPs to support better regulation and use of MNPs.
Supported by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, AURORA will focus on better understanding MNP exposures and toxicological and health effects during pregnancy, in utero, and in early life. These periods are critical for development and health later in life. It has been shown that MNPs are likely to cross the placental barrier in vitro and in vivo, underlying the urgent need to understand the impact of MNPs on reproductive and early-life health. AURORA will do this by significantly enhancing exposure assessment capabilities for measuring MNPs and MNP-associated chemicals (e.g. additives) in tissues relevant for early-life development (placenta, cord blood, amniotic fluid, meconium, fetal tissue). It will take a unique approach by combining in-depth characterization and scalable technologies to develop methods for both detailed and large-scale toxicological, exposure assessment, and epidemiological studies.
This will be combined with a novel tiered-testing approach and epidemiological investigations to provide the first extensive evaluation of maternal and fetal MNP exposures and health perturbations, including placental function, immune-inflammatory responses, oxidative stress, accelerated aging, endocrine disruption, and child development. In the course of developing and applying the tools and methodological workflows of the AURORA research program, the project partners will create a risk assessment framework specific to MNPs and identify the remaining knowledge gaps and priorities needed for comprehensively evaluating the impact of MNPs on early-life health. A short introduction video about AURORA is also available.