The grant, known as the Maridulu Budyari Gumal (SPHERE) Triple I Research Seed Grant, is valued at $75,000.
Dr Paudel said that while plastics research had largely focused on the marine environment, attention was now shifting towards the impact of microplastics on human health.
“Despite knowledge of the health risks posed by plastics, the extent of damage caused by microplastics at the molecular and cellular levels remains largely unknown,” he said.
Dr Paudel explained that microplastics are tiny and freely circulate in the environment.
“They can reach deep inside the lungs through inhalation, causing inflammatory and immune responses that damage the respiratory system and other organs. They can also be found in food and drinking water, and can accumulate in the body over time, potentially triggering adverse reactions.”
Dr Paudel said that the research aims to improve understanding about the deleterious health effects of plastic exposures and could aid policy development in defining safe exposure levels of microplastics, crucial for safeguarding public health.
Investigators on the grant also include Professor Phil Hansbro, Director, Centenary UTS Centre for Inflammation and Dr Rajib Majumder, Dr Ashleigh Philp, Dr Sobia Idrees and Dr Saima Firdous Rehman, researchers, Centenary UTS Centre for Inflammation.