A review of chemical and physical characterisation of atmospheric metallic nanoparticles

Paul Sanderson, Juana Maria Delgado Saborit, Roy M. Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)
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Knowledge of the human health impacts associated with airborne nanoparticle exposure has led to considerable research activity aimed at better characterising these particles and understanding which particle properties are most important in the context of effects on health. Knowledge of the sources, chemical composition, physical structure and ambient concentrations of nanoparticles has improved significantly as a result. Given the known toxicity of many metals and the contribution of nanoparticles to their oxidative potential, the metallic content of the nanoparticulate burden is likely to be an important factor to consider when attempting to assess the impact of nanoparticle exposure on health. This review therefore seeks to draw together the existing knowledge of metallic nanoparticles in the atmosphere and discuss future research priorities in the field. The article opens by outlining the reasons behind the current research interest in the field, and moves on to discuss sources of nanoparticles to the atmosphere. The next section reviews ambient concentrations, covering spatial and temporal variation, mass and number size distributions, air sampling and measurement techniques. Further sections discuss the chemical and physical composition of particles. The review concludes by summing up the current state of research in the area and considering where future research should be focused.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-365
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Early online date10 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014


  • Particulate matter
  • nanoparticles
  • ultrafine particles
  • metals


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