The International Alliance for NanoEHS Harmonization (IANH) organises interlaboratory comparisons of methods used to study the potential biological impacts of nanomaterials. The aim of IANH is to identify and reduce or remove sources of variability and irreproducibility in existing protocols. Here, we present results of the first IANH round robin studies into methods to assess the size and surface charge of suspended nanoparticles. The test materials used (suspensions of gold, silica, polystyrene, and ceria nanoparticles, with [primary] particles sizes between 10 nm and 80 nm) were first analysed in repeatability conditions to assess the possible contribution of between-sample heterogeneity to the between-laboratory variability. Reproducibility of the selected methods was investigated in an interlaboratory comparison between ten different laboratories in the USA and Europe. Robust statistical analysis was used to evaluate within- and between-laboratory variability. It is shown that, if detailed shipping, measurement, and reporting protocols are followed, measurement of the hydrodynamic particle diameter of nanoparticles in predispersed monomodal suspensions using the dynamic light scattering method is reproducible. On the other hand, measurements of more polydisperse suspensions of nanoparticle aggregates or agglomerates were not reproducible between laboratories. Ultrasonication, which is commonly used to prepare dispersions before cell exposures, was observed to further increase variability. The variability of the zeta potential values, which were also measured, indicates the need to define better surface charge test protocols and to identify sources of variability.
NanoparticleParticle surface chargeInterlaboratory comparisonReproducibilityPolydispersityToxicologyHealth and safety implications