Microplastic Pollution and its Impacts - SAPEA Call for Experts
Scientific advice on the topic Microplastic Pollution and its Impacts#

Call for nominations for:#

  • Experts for an International Working Group
  • One Working Group Vice Chair (SSH)
  • Peer Reviewers
  • A Scientific Writer

The European Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) provides independent and transparent scientific advice to the European Commission (EC). It works with the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors (GCSA) and the European Academies (SAPEA). SAPEA comprises five European Academy Networks, one of which is Academia Europaea.

Context and Priorities:#

Interest and concern about the presence of plastic particles in soil, air and water and their effect on biota and human health is increasing among scientists, the public and policy makers. This is partly due to the increasing masses of plastic pollution in the ocean and elsewhere, and the huge media attention it is receiving. Concern had been focused on the large macroscopic plastic litter, but now also extends to the tiny plastic debris, at the sub-five millimetre to nanometre scale, i.e. micro and nanoplastics (MNPs).

There has been a rise in legislative restrictions by public authorities and many voluntary measures by businesses, community action groups and citizens, which aim to reduce plastic use and pollution. It is important for stakeholders to be aware of the scientific consensus about the danger-level posed to human and animal health and to the environment due to MNPs, and to sustain a rigorous critique of such actions and related policies, with a view to maximising public good outcomes.

The question asked is:

Human Health and Environmental Impacts of Micro and Nano Plastic (MNP) Pollution: Is short-term policy advice based on state-of-the-art scientific knowledge feasible and justified? If so, what should its scope be?

To support the Scientific Advice Mechanism, a review of the scientific evidence is requested with a focus on the following areas:

1. The natural sciences: A summary and analysis of existing natural sciences reviews, and a digest of the latest primary literature (health, the environment, MNP research field).

2. The social and behavioural sciences and humanities: A digest and analysis of the social science work of relevance (such as risk perception by citizens, the behaviour of stakeholders, the political economy and psychology of the MNP debate, public good and opportunity cost, policy considerations, and so on).

3. Regulatory and legislative aspects from the political sciences and legal sciences perspectives: A comment on the analysis of the different national and international regulatory frameworks of relevance – including substance-focused (REACH, drinking water, plastics) and ecosystem-focused (water and marine strategy framework directives) which will be performed by the SAM Unit in parallel to a political and legal sciences literature analysis by the Working Group.

4. Relevant scientific modelling approaches: An assessment of selected modelling approaches and of their potential to shed light on some of the more complex aspects of MNPs (potential future scenarios).

The focus should be on what policy advice can be formulated in the midst of this uncertainty and incomplete knowledge, rather than on the identification of knowledge gaps and future research questions.

To address the questions, SAPEA is setting up an international and multidisciplinary Working Group, consisting of a Chair, a Vice-Chair, and approx. 16 - 20 experts who will provide their scientific input. Working Group members need to be prepared to meet (up to) three times between July and December 2018, either in person (preferred option) or remotely. The first meeting will be held in AUGUST in Brussels (availability pending). Experts should have free time to write and review during the following months, up until November. The report will be delivered in December 2018.

Nominations of experts and/or scientific writer should be accompanied by short curriculum vitae (2 pages), together with a short explanation on how the nominee’s experience meets the areas of expertise needed.

Economy class travel costs for attendance at Working Group meetings will be reimbursed by SAPEA.

A SAPEA Selection Committee will be responsible for the composition of the Working Group, based on established selection criteria.

Please address your response and any questions to Esther Dorado-Ladera, from 11 June. Prior to 11 June, please contact Louise Edwards,

Deadline for receipt of nominations is 18 June 2018.#

Thank you very much in advance.

Yours sincerely
Professor Bernard Charpentier
Chair of the SAPEA Consortium

Professor Bart Koelmans
Chair of the Working Group

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