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Toxicol Sci. 2006 Apr;90(2):296-303. Epub 2006 Jan 11.

Research strategies for safety evaluation of nanomaterials. Part VI. Characterization of nanoscale particles for toxicological evaluation.

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Particle Engineering Research Center, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA.


To properly assign mechanisms or causes for toxic effects of nanoscale materials, their properties and characteristics both outside and within the biological environment must be well understood. Scientists have many tools for studying the size, shape, and surface properties of particulates outside of the physiological environment; however, it is difficult to measure many of these same properties in situ without perturbing the environment, leading to spurious findings. Characterizing nanoparticle systems in situ can be further complicated by an organism's active clearance, defense, and/or immune responses. As toxicologists begin to examine nanomaterials in a systematic fashion, there is consensus that a series of guidelines or recommended practices is necessary for basic characterization of nanomaterials. These recommended practices should be developed jointly by physical scientists skilled in nano characterization and biological scientists experienced in toxicology research. In this article, basic nanoparticle characterization techniques are discussed, along with the some of the issues and implications associated with measuring nanoparticle properties and their interactions with biological systems. Recommendations regarding how best to approach nanomaterial characterization include using proper sampling and measurement techniques, forming multidisciplinary teams, and making measurements as close to the biological action point as possible.

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