Microplastics may harm human health, researchers at the University Medical Centre (UMC) Utrecht were slated to announce in Amsterdam on Oct. 3.
Research presented at the Plastic Health Summit in Amsterdam will reveal that immune cells able to recognize and attack microplastics will die quickly as a result of the contact.
Experiments under laboratory conditions have shown that immune cells that encounter microplastics die around three times more quickly than those that don't.
In the study, which was led by Nienke Vrisekoop, assistant professor at the UMC Utrecht Center for Quantitative Immunology, microplastics coated in blood plasma were placed in culture dishes alongside human immune cells under laboratory conditions.
Some 20 percent of immune cells tested in culture dishes without microplastics died within 24 hours.
When immune cells came into contact with microplastics 60 percent of the cells died within the same time period.
This rate of cell death, according to the researchers, is thought to be "far in excess of when immune cells encounter and engulf most bacteria or foreign bodies."
"These results raise serious questions about what microplastics are doing to our immune health. Urgent further research is needed to paint as full a picture as possible," Vrisekoop said in commenting on the findings of the research.
A growing body of evidence is pointing to the presence of microplastics in humans.
Last year researchers at the Medical University of Vienna found 20 microplastic particles in every 10 grams of stool.
The first edition of Plastic Health Summit in Amsterdam is set to see respected health experts from around the world debate the latest state-of-the-art research on micro- and nanoplastics, plastic additives and health.
At the summit Liz Bonnin, an Irish science, wildlife and natural history presenter, will be receiving the results of a urine test revealing the levels of potentially harmful plastic-related chemicals in her body.
The event is organised by the Plastic Soup Foundation and supported by environmental campaign group A Plastic Planet.