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ISO Develops Nanoparticle Toxicity Testing

  • Tuesday, 8th February 2011
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  • Reading time: about 2 minutes

The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has published a new international standard to support the inhalation toxicity testing of nanoparticles.

This standard was developed in response to concern from researchers and manufacturers about the safety and environmental impact of these particles, following the rapid growth of nanotechnology-based products.

Entitled ‘Nanotechnologies – characterisation of nanoparticles in inhalation exposure chambers for inhalation toxicity testing,’ the ISO 10808:2010 standard is intended to ensure tests used to establish the inhalation toxicity of airborne nanoparticles are reliable and consistent worldwide.

Dr Peter Hatto, chair of the committee responsible for developing the standard, said: “”With the rapid expansion of nanotechnology applications comes a growing risk of exposure to potentially toxic substances, especially for workers in nanotechnology-based industries.

“”Moreover, if airborne nanoparticles were liberated from products, the general public could also be affected. Ensuring the safety of these particles is therefore paramount for the well-being of workers and consumers.””

ISO 10808 establishes a variety of methods for monitoring the inhalation toxicity testing chamber, including a differential mobility analysing system (DMAS). This system is intended to determine particle number, size, size-distribution, surface area and estimated mass dose.

The ISO standard also establishes morphological examination using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), equipped with an energy dispersive X-ray analyser (EDXA) for chemical composition.

“”In order to test inhalation toxicity it is necessary to monitor concentration, size and size-distribution of nanoscale particles in an inhalation chamber,”” said Dr Hatto.

“”Traditional methods used in other areas are considered insufficient for testing nanoparticles since parameters specific to them like particle surface area or number, might be crucial determinants of toxicity. ISO 10808 takes into account the particular characteristics and potential risks of nanoparticles and is thus an important asset to the industry.””


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