On the characterization of environmental nanoparticles

David J. Burleson, Michelle D. Driessen, R. Lee Penn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


The presence and release of nanoparticles into the environment has important implications for human health and the environment. This article highlights and describes techniques that are effective in the characterization of anthropogenic and naturally occurring nanoparticles. Particle attributes like size, size distribution, shape, structure, microstructure, composition, and homogeneity are critically important to determining the potential impact of such materials on health and the environment. Many techniques yield data for a collection of nanoparticles; while others yield data for individual nanoparticles; and still others yield data showing the size, distribution of chemical species, and variations in structure and microstructure for a single nanoparticle. All are important in the context of environmental nanoparticles. Many of these techniques are complementary, and depending on the information required, the ideal characterization usually employs multiple techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2707-2753
Number of pages47
JournalJournal of Environmental Science and Health - Part A Toxic/Hazardous Substances and Environmental Engineering
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Parts of this work were supported by the University of Minnesota, the US Department of Energy Environmental Management Sciences Program, and the DOE Office of Basic Energy Science, Chemistry Division. Some of the data presented were collected at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a DOE User Facility operated by Battelle for the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


  • Materials characterization
  • Nanomaterials
  • Nanoparticles
  • Particle size
  • TEM


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