awareness campaign on microplastics in collaboration with cartoonist Kim Duchateau

How do microplastics end up in nature, what is the impact on our bodies, and above all, what can we ourselves do to avoid or limit the spread of microplastics in our environment? Following new European regulations, the FPS Public Health is launching an awareness campaign on microplastics in collaboration with cartoonist Kim Duchateau. With beautiful drawings and a knowing wink, Kim Duchateau shows that microplastics can be found in mussels, beer or water, and consequently in our faeces and even in the placenta. With the campaign, the FPS Public Health aims to raise awareness of the microplastics problem among the public and inform citizens about the action they themselves can take to protect the environment.


Where do microplastics come from?

Microplastics are plastic particles less than five millimetres in size created primarily by the slow disintegration of plastic (litter) waste. The second main source of microplastics are car tyres: during driving, braking and acceleration, small rubber particles are released, which first end up on the road and then in the soil or air, or wash away to the sea via the sewage system. 


Synthetic textiles, such as acrylic, nylon and polyester (fleece), are also a source of microplastics. According to researchers, a total of more than sixty percent of our clothing is made of plastic. Per laundry load, we are said to discharge up to 9 million plastic microfibres into our waterways! 

In addition, microplastics are also sometimes specially produced for certain specific applications. For instance, plastic granules for the production of plastics (pellets) are a major source of microplastics. 


Impact on our bodies

Microplastics have little or no biodegradability and inevitably end up in the environment, where they pose a threat to natural ecosystems. Small marine organisms such as fish, crayfish and shrimp may mistakenly perceive the plastic particles as food; they may become saturated with them and die from malnutrition. The particles may also themselves have negative effects in the intestinal tract or be absorbed by cells and thus enter other organs.

Microplastics are everywhere:


Through the food chain, the pieces of plastic then end up on our plates. Scientists have already discovered microplastics in mussels, oysters, beer, fruit, sea salt and tap water, among others. According to Dutch research, we ingest more than 300,000 microplastics annually through our food, drink and air.

So it is not surprising that plastic particles have recently been discovered in our lungs and faeces, in placentas, breast milk and even in our blood, where they can have direct and indirect harmful effects. After all, plastics often contain chemicals, such as stabilisers or flame retardants. 

What can you do yourself?

National and European governments are trying to find solutions to the microplastics problem. But you can also contribute! Read below what you can do to limit the spread of microplastics in our environment as much as possible.

Plastic waste

  • Avoid plastic packing materials and use a reusable shopping bag, water bottle or lunch box.
  • Sort your waste in the appropriate garbage bin.
  • Do not leave litter in nature. Always throw your rubbish in the rubbish bin, including small pieces of plastic such as cigarette butts and chewing gum.


Car tyres

  • Adopt an eco-friendly driving style. The more aggressive you drive, the more fuel you consume and the more plastic particles end up in nature.
  • Ensure the correct tyre pressure and change your winter tyres in time. Tyres with the correct pressure wear out less quickly, resulting in fewer microplastics being released. Did you know that it is also much safer and cheaper to drive with the correct tyre pressure?



  • Do not wash synthetic clothes more often than necessary. Let your clothes blow dry in fresh air.
  • Avoid synthetic clothing and opt for clothes made of natural materials such as linen, cotton or wool.
  • Wash at a low temperature (30°). High temperatures damage some fabrics, releasing more microfibres.
  • Spin clothes on a low speed to minimize friction.
  • Use detergents certified with the European Ecolabel, which are guaranteed free of microplastics.


Cosmetics and care products

  • Avoid toothpaste, cosmetics and other personal care products that contain microplastics. Opt for personal care and cleaning products with the EU Ecolabel, as these are sure to contain no microplastics. 
  • Most glitters contain microplastics, including the glitter in eye shadow, lipstick or blush. Therefore, avoid makeup with glitter, go for biodegradable glitter or glitter that is soluble in water.
  • Do you want to be sure that your cosmetics do not contain microplastics? Then scan the product with the Beat the microbead app. Products on the green list are certainly free of microplastics.