Nanomaterial characterization: considerations and needs for hazard assessment and safety evaluation

by Andrew Maynard on November 9, 2009

Back in September, Darrell Boverhof and Ray David published a review article in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry on nanomaterial characterization that draws on recommendations made on  The review is freely available online.

Nanomaterial characterization: considerations and needs for hazard assessment and safety evaluation

Darrell R. Boverhof (1) and Raymond M. David (2)

(1) Toxicology & Environmental Research and Consulting, The Dow Chemical Company, Midland, MI 48674, USA

(2) BASF Corporation, 100 Campus Dr, Florham Park, NJ 07932, USA

Received: 10 July 2009 Revised: 21 August 2009 Accepted: 23 August 2009 Published online: 15 September 2009


Nanotechnology is a rapidly emerging field of great interest and promise. As new materials are developed and commercialized, hazard information also needs to be generated to reassure regulators, workers, and consumers that these materials can be used safely. The biological properties of nanomaterials are closely tied to the physical characteristics, including size, shape, dissolution rate, agglomeration state, and surface chemistry, to name a few. Furthermore, these properties can be altered by the medium used to suspend or disperse these water-insoluble particles. However, the current toxicology literature lacks much of the characterization information that allows toxicologists and regulators to develop “rules of thumb” that could be used to assess potential hazards. To effectively develop these rules, toxicologists need to know the characteristics of the particle that interacts with the biological system. This void leaves the scientific community with no options other than to evaluate all materials for all potential hazards. Lack of characterization could also lead to different laboratories reporting discordant results on seemingly the same test material because of subtle differences in the particle or differences in the dispersion medium used that resulted in altered properties and toxicity of the particle. For these reasons, good characterization using a minimal characterization data set should accompany and be required of all scientific publications on nanomaterials.

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