Scientists to discuss nanoparticle threat in farmed seafood

Researchers at the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL) in Portugal will be presenting findings tomorrow on the potential health hazards caused by tiny particles in seafood.

Engineered nanoparticles are increasingly used in a variety of contexts, but one unintended consequence is that they can end up in the marine environment and, therefore, in the human food chain.

Scientists at the INL in Braga, north Portugal, have been investigating the health implications of two specific substances – silver and titanium dioxide – in seafood. Their study has focused particularly on marine mussels, turbot and two species of seaweed: dulse and sea lettuce.

Project coordinator Begoña Espiña said their project team hopes their findings will shine greater light on a relatively unknown subject, helping drive improvements and sustainability for the fast-growing sector.

She said: “The Atlantic area aquaculture sector is growing exponentially in tandem with a sharp rise of nanoparticle use across industry. However, studies assessing the risk and mitigation of nanoparticles within this context are lagging far behind. This represents a critical environmental and safety issue for the Atlantic area.

“The NANOCULTURE project aims to dig deeper than ever before, to better understand the toxicity of nanoparticles within seafood products, and the potential knock-on effect to the human system. Given the importance of the aquaculture sector for the Atlantic Area, we are keen to fully understand any possible adverse effects in order to improve the safety of future food production and ameliorate any environmental-related impacts of the activity.”

Founded by the governments of Portugal and Spain, the INL is a world-leading R&D centre specialising in the deployment of nanotechnology.

The broader NANOCULTURE Project team includes aquaculture professionals, analytical chemists, physical chemists and molecular biologists from CIIMAR, CETGA, Universidade de Vigo, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela and Indigo Rock Marine Research Station. Associated partners include Pôle Aquimer and Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute.

To Register for the NANOCULTURE event, to be held online on Thursday 22 September, visit


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