Mmm, Toxic Nanoparticles!

nanotechnology nanoparticles

When you bite into fresh produce, are you also biting into health-damaging silver nanoparticles? Apparently — I’m not even making this up — no one really knows. Some 1,000 foods currently on the market are nanotechnology based, and there’s no question that such metallic contaminants could potentially damage human health. Now new research points to methods that could help identify these toxic nanoparticles on our food, so we can know whether or not to (continue?) eating them. Great news, or disturbing wake-up call?

Over the last decade, use of nanotechnology has skyrocketed — leaving metallic nano-residue in consumer products ranging from cosmetics to produce. The most common uses of nanotech products in the food chain seem to be in pesticides, water treatment, fertilizers, processing, and food packaging. A new study published by the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources highlights the persistence of these  particles in our food supply.


From Nanotechnology Now:

“More than 1,000 products on the market are nanotechnology-based products,” said Mengshi Lin, associate professor of food science in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. “This is a concern because we do not know the toxicity of the nanoparticles. Our goal is to detect, identify and quantify these nanoparticles in food and food products and study their toxicity as soon as possible… This study provides a promising approach for detecting the contamination of silver nanoparticles in food crops or other agricultural products,” Lin said.

This study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

These silver nanoparticles can migrate within the body, once consumed, enter the blood and lymph systems, circulating to sensitive organs such as the brain, spleen, liver, and heart. At present these metal particles on food aren’t regulated by the FDA; from what I can tell, levels of consumption are neither known nor tracked, and health implications of nanoparticle ingestion haven’t been researched.

For more coverage of this research in particular, and the issue in general:

There’s no real way to know if you’ve been eating silver nanoparticles on your food, apparently, but this new research offers a way to start to ask the question.

Here’s another question submitted for group consideration, among people who eat food in the modern age: what the h*** are we doing?!

Image credit: nanoparticle and nanotechnology images via Shutterstock.

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