June 2017

Silver Sea Urchins

A recent article published in the journal of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, detailing work carried out in the lab of Emile Pelletier of Université du Québec à Rimouski, has expanded on research being done on the environmental effects of nanosilver particles. Nanosilver particles are becoming more prominent in some of our everyday household products (air purifiers, blankets, cosmetics, toothpaste, pillowcases, nasal spray and many more) due to their antimicrobial and preservative properties.

The question this research aims to answer is: If at all, exactly how toxic are these silver nano particles to humans and the environment surrounding them? With the help of transmission electron microscopy, research being conducted with sea urchins is setting out to shed light on this very question. The sensitivity of urchin embryo development was tested with the use of 50 nm silver particles. Characterization and size analysis of these particles was made possible with Delong’s LVEM5 electron microscope. The LVEM5 is the instrument of choice due in large part to its in-lab rapid particle analysis capabilities, and accuracy beyond other tools such as Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS).

Why sea urchins? These sea creatures were chosen because of their sedentary lifestyle at the bottom of the sea bed, making them prime targets for exposure to nano-contaminant discharges in coastal waters. While juvenile sea urchins were affected in particular ways that set off specific cellular responses, the verdict is still out on whether the toxicity levels of nanosilver are harmful to humans and the environment to a dangerous degree.
Silver nanoparticles taken by Delong’s LVEM 5 microscopeTEM Image of Silver Nanoparticles
taken by Delong’s LVEM5 benchtop electron microscope




Source citation:
Silver nanoparticles and dissolved silver activate contrasting immune responses and stress-induced heat shock protein expression in sea urchin.
Magesky, A.A, Ciro, R. A. O.B, Beaulieu, L.C, & Pelletier, E.A (2016).
A: Institut de sciences de la mer de Rimouski, Université du Québec à Rimouski, Rimouski, Québec, Canada
B: Departamento de Biologia Celular, Universidade Federal do Parana, Curitiba-PR, Brazil
C: Département des sciences des aliments, Université Laval, Québec, Québec, Canada
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 9999(9999), 1-15. doi: 10.1002/etc.3709
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