The international network on Children’s Health, Environment and Safety (INCHES) celebrated its 8th Conference in Barcelona, from September 14 to 16, with the participation of more than 150 experts.
The meeting was organized by the ‘Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas’ (CSIC), the University Rovira y Virgili (URV), the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany, and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, with the support of the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) that hosted the meeting in its Campus Mar, located within the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB).
Joan Grimal, Chair of the INCHES Organizing Committee, underlined that one of the main issues addressed during the conference was air pollution: “Children are the most vulnerable group to air pollution. The fact that their metabolism and organs are still developing makes them more vulnerable to the toxic effect of pollutants.”
Another issue that generated much debate was the risks and benefits of eating fish, due to their accumulation of mercury. A recent study that was presented in the conference showed that Mediterranean fish have very high mercury levels, even above those recommended by the UE for human consumption.
Jordi Júlvez, an ISGlobal researcher who also participated in the conference explained that there is still much debate on the positive or negative effects of eating fish during pregnancy: “Despite the neurotoxic effects of mercury, fish contain essential fatty acids that are important for fetal development”.
A study led by Júlvez last year found that the benefits outweigh the risks as long as a moderate amount of fish is consumed. Thus, researchers recommend eating fish that are lower on the food chain, such as mussels or small fish, because they accumulate less amounts of mercury.