Reproducibility of methods required to identify and characterize nanoforms of substances

Tidsskriftartikel - 2022


Nanoforms (NFs) of a substance may be distinguished from one another through differences in their physicochemical properties. When registering nanoforms of a substance for assessment under the EU REACH framework, five basic descriptors are required for their identification: composition, surface chemistry, size, specific surface area and shape. To make the risk assessment of similar NFs efficient, a number of grouping frameworks have been proposed, which often require assessment of similarity on individual physicochemical properties as part of the group justification. Similarity assessment requires an understanding of the achievable accuracy of the available methods. It must be demonstrated that measured differences between NFs are greater than the achievable accuracy of the method, to have confidence that the measured differences are indeed real. To estimate the achievable accuracy of a method, we assess the reproducibility of six analytical techniques routinely used to measure these five basic descriptors of nanoforms: inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), Electrophoretic light scattering (ELS), Brunauer–Emmett–Teller (BET) specific surface area and transmission and scanning electron microscopy (TEM and SEM). Assessment was performed on representative test materials to evaluate the reproducibility of methods on single NFs of substances. The achievable accuracy was defined as the relative standard deviation of reproducibility (RSDR) for each method. Well established methods such as ICP-MS quantification of metal impurities, BET measurements of specificsurface area, TEM and SEM for size and shape and ELS for surface potential and isoelectric point, all performed well, with low RSDR, generally between 5 and 20%, with maximal fold differences usually <1.5 fold between laboratories. Applications of technologies such as TGA for measuring water content and putative organic impurities, additives or surface treatments (through loss on ignition), which have a lower technology readiness level, demonstrated poorer reproducibility, but still within 5-fold differences. The expected achievable accuracy of ICP-MS may be estimated for untested analytes using established relationships between concentration and reproducibility, but this is not yet the case for TGA measurements of loss on ignition or water content. The results here demonstrate an approach to estimate the achievable accuracy of a method that should be employed when interpreting differences between NFs on individual physicochemical properties.


Cross RK, Bossa N, Stolpe B, Loosli F, Sahlgren NM, Clausen P, Delpivo C, Persson M, Valsesia A, Ponti J, Mehn D, Seleci DA, Müller P, von der Kammer F, Rauscher H, Spurgeon D, Svendsen C, Wohlleben W. Reproducibility of methods required to identify and characterize nanoforms of substances. NanoImpact 2022;27:100410.
doi: 10.1016/j.impact.2022.100410

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