• Health effects

    Little is known about the effects of plastic soup on our health. We call for more research.

What we do know

Scientific evidence and publications in leading scientific magazines are piling up: chemicals in plastic can cause cancer, heart failure, Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, arthritis, infertility and even damage unborn babies in the uterus.

Plastic is everywhere: plastic particles, nanoplastics and microplastics are in our food, in our drinks (tap water and bottles) and in the air we breathe. For example, tiny worn-down particles from car tires in the air and microfibres from synthetic clothing. Even cosmetics like lipstick, mascara, nail polish and anti-wrinkle cream contain plastic.

What is known so far about the adverse effects of plastic on human health is nothing short of alarming. Therefore, the Plastic Soup Foundation, together with scientists, has started the international platform ‘Plastic Health Coalition‘ to encourage new research. The Plastic Soup Foundation calls on businesses and governments to start and fund much more scientific research. Time is running.

Click here to find out more about the Plastic Health Coalition.

Plastic microdeeltjes zijn vaak terug te vinden in cosmetica voor dagelijks gebruik.

Plastic micro particles are often found in cosmetics we use on a daily basis.

“It is necessary that we understand the extent to which toxic chemicals, plastics and global warming interact and damage human health”, says Susan Shaw, Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at New York State University. “This is the front line of contemporary science. Here science can contribute to sustainable living in the future.”

Heather Leslie, senior researcher at the Department of Environmental Health at Vrije University in Amsterdam, endorses the urgency: “The dangers of plastic particles to the human health are becoming increasingly clear through a series of studies. Plastic waste is a persistent problem faced by the ocean, but it is time that it is recognised as a health problem.”

To call attention to the health effects, the has Plastic Soup Foundation launched a new campaign on World Oceans Day, early June 2018. The main image of the campaign is the baby above, made of plastic waste from the ocean. The plastic baby symbolizes our children and grandchildren whom we will burden with our plastic waste problem, if we do not take firm action quickly. We are literally poisoning future generations.

Read our Position Paper “Plastic and Human Health: alarming evidence” for additional information and references to a series of scientific studies.


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The scientists

Dr. Susan Shaw

Dr. Susan Shaw

Dr. Susan Shaw is founder and director of Shaw Institute and Professor of Environmental Health Sciences & at New York State University. She is a pioneer in research on ocean pollution, oil spills, plastics and climate change. She is known by, among other things, her diving as a researcher in the Gulf of Mexico shortly after the oil spill with the BP drilling rig Deepwater Horizon in 2010. She sees plastic pollution as the biggest oil spill in history.

Dr. Heather Leslie

Dr. Heather Leslie

Dr. Heather Leslie is a senior researcher at the Department of Environment and Health at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She has specialized in litter, microplastics, circular economy, ecotoxicology, chemistry and policy for litter. She is co-author of many peer reviewed articles. Recently, she published research results on a new technique that detects and identifies micro plastics in the environment much faster than conventional methods.

Prof. Dick Vethaak

Prof. Dick Vethaak

As a biologist Prof. dr. Dick Vethaak has more than 30 years of experience in the field of ecotoxicology and research on water quality of river deltas and marine waters. He is Professor of Ecotoxicology at the Institute for Environmental Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. His research interests include endocrine disruptors, nanoparticles, chemical mixtures and innovative technologies for monitoring and controlling pollution.

The Ultimate Plastic Diet

The Plastic Soup Foundation has not only the global risk arising from the use of plastics on the agenda. We also focus on solutions. Our overconsumption of plastic must be reduced. Not by banning on all plastics, but by going on ‘The Ultimate Plastic Diet‘.

Maria Westerbos, director and founder of the Plastic Soup Foundation: “We can all consume less plastic. As an individual, as a family, as a company. On the website plastichealthcoalition.org we offer tips for everyone how they can reduce their own plastic use in everyday life. Of course, by using fewer plastic bags, but also by taking your own coffee mug to your favourite coffee shop or to work. You can also stop eating chewing gum. What many people do not know is that most chewing gums are made of flavoured plastic. Every little bit helps. Just being aware already makes a difference. The Ultimate Plastic Diet is a movement. A revolution. The whole world should go on a plastic diet.

Our VIP Dietitians

Oliver Heldens

Oliver Heldens


Oliver Heldens is one of the most famous DJs in the world. The Dutch DJ is just 23 years old, but is the owner of his own label, has a global fan base of millions of followers and gives more than 120 performances per year. In addition to building a compelling music repertoire Oliver has a special place in his heart for the ocean. He is proud to be an Ambassador for the Plastic Soup Foundation.

Dorian van Rijsselberghe

Dorian van Rijsselberghe


Windsurfer Dorian van Rijsselberghe is a two-time gold-medal winner at the Olympics (2012 and 2016). His passion for the ocean made him aware of the threat of plastic pollution. Dorian is the type of man who stands up and fights for what he loves; this is why he is Ambassador of the Plastic Soup Foundation. You are gold Dorian, thanks for your ambassadorship.