Nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA) – Characterisation of nanomaterials for toxicological assessment
The growing use of nanomaterials in a range of applications highlights the need for a clear understanding of their potential toxicity. Knowledge gaps currently exist regarding nanomaterials environmental fate, uptake, behaviour within biological systems and direct mechanisms of toxicity. Many physiochemical properties will influence the toxicity of nanomaterials including size, size distribution, agglomeration state, surface chemistry, surface area and electrostatic properties. Given the range of characteristics influencing the toxicity of nanomaterials, clear characterisation for toxicological and environmental studies is imperative. Currently, no single technique can meet the full range of these requirements. However, Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NTA) forms an important contribution to this area through the multi-parameter analysis of particle size, size distribution, concentration and zeta potential of nanomaterials in liquid suspensions.
The benefits of material at the nanoscale are well established. Nanotechnology holds the potential to increase efficiency in renewable energy, aid developments in biomedicine through targeted drug delivery, become a valuable tool in remediation of both terrestrial and aquatic systems and produce stronger more durable materials (1). These benefits originate from the unique properties of material at the nanoscale. High reactivity and surface area per unit volume and the capability of nanomaterials to interact with cells are key properties utilised in its use. However, the unique properties that make nanomaterials a valuable material for manufacture, research, technology and biomedicine may also be responsible for producing toxic responses through biol