This article is part of the supplement: Proceedings of the Joint Environment and Human Health Programme: Annual Science Day Conference and Workshop

Open Access Open Badges Research

Characterisation of carbon nanotubes in the context of toxicity studies

Deborah Berhanu123, Agnieszka Dybowska1, Superb K Misra12, Chris J Stanley1, Pakatip Ruenraroengsak3, Aldo R Boccaccini2, Teresa D Tetley3, Samuel N Luoma45, Jane A Plant6 and Eugenia Valsami-Jones1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Mineralogy, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, UK

2 Department of Materials, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, London, SW7 2AZ, UK

3 National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, Dovehouse Street, London, SW3 6LY, UK

4 U.S. Geological Survey, 345 Middlefield Rd, MS496, Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA

5 Department of Zoology, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, UK

6 Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2AZ, UK

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Environmental Health 2009, 8(Suppl 1):S3  doi:10.1186/1476-069X-8-S1-S3

Published: 21 December 2009


Nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionise our futures, but has also prompted concerns about the possibility that nanomaterials may harm humans or the biosphere. The unique properties of nanoparticles, that give them novel size dependent functionalities, may also have the potential to cause harm. Discrepancies in existing human health and environmental studies have shown the importance of good quality, well-characterized reference nanomaterials for toxicological studies.

Here we make a case for the importance of the detailed characterization of nanoparticles, using several methods, particularly to allow the recognition of impurities and the presence of chemically identical but structurally distinct phases. Methods to characterise fully, commercially available multi-wall carbon nanotubes at different scales, are presented.