Government of Canada funding research on the health risks of microplastics

News release

January 22, 2024 | Ottawa, Ontario | Health Canada

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring the health and safety of Canadians which includes continuing to assess emerging risks in our environment such as plastic pollution. Plastic pollution and the health impact it may have is still an emerging area of research.

Today, the Honourable Mark Holland, Minister of Health, announced funding of $2.1 million over four years to three academic institutions to increase research of microplastics and their potential impact on human health through the Environmental Health Research Contribution Program.

McGill University, Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Toronto have been selected to undertake research related to the potential exposure to microplastics from various sources, including food, food packaging, drinking water, indoor and outdoor air, as well as dust. Collectively, these initiatives will improve the understanding of the potential impacts of microplastics on human health. The Government of Canada's dedication to teamwork and research will play an important role in its efforts to understand how these materials affect our health and come up with ways to manage any associated risks.

The Environmental Health Research Contribution Program funds research to increase our knowledge of the health impacts of microplastics, improve monitoring of human exposure to microplastics, and encourage the development of new methods, approaches and technologies related to human health risks of microplastics. Research through this program aligns with the priorities of Canada’s Plastics Science Agenda and will fill knowledge gaps identified in the Government of Canada’s 2020 Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution.


“There is a lot we don’t know about the effect of microplastics on human health. That is why programs like this one were created – to support Canadian scientists in improving the understanding of the human health impacts of microplastics. These projects will not only expand our knowledge, but hopefully inspire more research and inform future actions to protect the health of Canadians.”

The Honourable Mark Holland
Minister of Health

Quick facts

  • Microplastics can come from various sources such as microfibres released from washing of clothes or microbeads released through wastewater. Microplastics can also be formed through the breakdown of larger plastic items in the environment.

  • Humans may be exposed to microplastics via the ingestion of food, bottled water, and tap water, as well as through the breathing of indoor and outdoor air.

  • In 2019, Canadians generated 4.4 million tonnes of plastic waste, only nine percent of which was recycled.

Associated links


Christopher Aoun
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Mark Holland
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada

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