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Ferraz Lab - Research

Microplastics and fertility

Decades of careless use, and improper disposal have resulted in plastic pollution accumulating almost everywhere on earth, and microplastics have now been documented in even the most remote environments. Microplastics are plastic particles smaller than 5 mm in size which are increasingly being demonstrated as having a negative impact on animal reproductive health and well-being across a diverse number of species. Microplastics mainly originate from fragmentation of larger plastic objects and chemical additives in plastics have been shown to adsorb organic contaminants from the surrounding medium and increase the exposure of human and domestic and wildlife animals to the combined toxic substances.

Microplastics have already been isolated in fresh and sea waters, air samples, food, soil, human stool and, alarmingly, in 97% of blood and urine samples from children in Germany. Negative consequences on reproduction by microplastics have been described in oysters, hydra, waterflea and, recently, in male mouse. However, current understanding of the effects of microplastics on mammalian reproductive and overall health is very limited, and there is an urgent need for rapid progress. Our group will thoroughly investigate the effects of microplastic accumulation in large animal ovarian and testicular tissue and investigate their potential influence on gametogenesis.