Aquaculture products and nanoparticles are used most frequently than ever and their markets grow exponentially. As a consequence, more nanoparticles are present in the aquaculture environment and facilities. But, could there be nanoparticles inside these aquaculture products for consumption? And could nanoparticles be absorbed in humans after oral intake? NANOCULTURE will answer these questions.
The studies of risks and mitigation of the presence of NPs in the environment are lagging far behind the rate of its use, which represents a critical environmental and safety challenge in the Atlantic Area. There is a lack of consolidated information on the effects of NPs in water, organisms, humans, or other media in real conditions. In part, this is a consequence of the limited number of robust analytical methods for detection.
Aquaculture is a sector of high economic relevance in the Atlantic Area and it’s expected to growth exponentially in coming years. From a technological point of view, lately, nanoparticles (different materials, sizes, properties,…) have been developing and supporting important improvements in diverse industrial applications and therefore, the frequency of their applications were increasing. In the aquaculture industry, NPs are used in several areas, p. e., and improvement of feeds, water or effluents quality and control of infectious diseases.
Nanoparticles of titanium dioxide (TiO2) and silver (Ag) are among the most industrially used regardless of the data source and are also broadly distributed in a number of consumer goods. TiO2 and Ag NPs have gained high commercial and scientific interest due to their unique optical, catalytic and antimicrobial properties. Currently, they are incorporated in water filters, paints, cosmetics, detergents, clothing textiles, food packaging, medical devices, and electrical appliances, among others. Since applications for TiO2 and Ag NPs are increasing, concerns about their potential input into aquatic ecosystems, their environmental hazards and potential human uptake risk though aquaculture products consumption.
Given the importance of the aquaculture sector for the Atlantic Area, possible adverse effects of the use of engineered NPs in aquaculture should be well understood in order to ensure maximum safety of food products and the environmental-related impacts of the activity. Therefore, the objective of NANOCULTURE is to advance the knowledge, risk assessment and mitigation of environmental presence of two of the most-used metallic nanoparticles: titanium dioxide (TiO2) and silver (Ag) in market products.
As opposed to the existing studies of nanoparticles in organisms, NANOCULTURE will be carried out primarily with real samples destined for human consumption. The selected species, which are common in Atlantic Area aquaculture industry, are: turbot (Psetta maxima), mussels (Mytilus sp.) and seaweed (Palmaria sp). Since these organisms are quite distinct, responses to NPs exposure (water filtration capacities, physiological effects, uptake and elimination profiles,…) will also be different. The nanoparticle sensors developed within NANOCULTURE will enable Atlantic aquaculture to make use of the digital revolution and provide real time on-site monitoring.
NANOCULTURE will facilitate a significant improvement of the knowledge and management regarding the risks associated to nanoparticles in the Atlantic area aquaculture. Besides bringing together existing knowledge and Atlantic research infrastructures to mitigate this territorial risk, the project will also empower aquaculture through enabling them to control the presence of the metallic NPs independently, offering an important competitive advantage.
The outputs of NANOCULTURE can be grouped in three categories:
- Advance in knowledge related to the toxicity of engineered NPs for aquaculture organisms.
- Recommendations and standard operation procedures for mitigation of the risk of NPs in aquaculture products.
- Development of new analytical methods addressing detection, characterization and quantification of metallic NPs in different media.