PARIS — Tests involving chickens have raised questions about the impact on health from engineered nano-particles, the ultra-fine grains commonly used in drugs and processed foods, scientists said on Sunday.
Chickens exposed to high oral doses of polystyrene particles 50 nanometres (50 billionths of a metre) across absorbed less iron in their diet, according to their study.
At the same time, birds that were chronically exposed to these doses had a “remodelling” of their intestinal villi, the microscopic finger-like projections that play an important role in absorbing nutrients.
The changes meant that the villi increased the surface area available for taking in iron.
Intestinal uptake of calcium, copper, zinc and vitamins A, D, E and K may also be affected by high exposure to nanoparticles, although further research is needed to investigate this, say the authors.