Nanomaterials in Waste Streams

Current Knowledge on Risks and Impacts

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Nanotechnology is an emerging and promising field for advanced applications in industrial, commercial and medical sectors, and nanomaterials can be found today in sunscreens, deodorants and textiles. Yet these nanomaterials, which are increasing in number, are entering waste streams as part of end-of-life products along with conventional waste, without any real understanding of their environmental impacts or health risks on human beings and living organisms.

This report provides a literature review on four specific waste treatment processes (recycling, incineration, landfilling and wastewater treatment). While state-of-the-art waste treatment facilities may collect, divert or eliminate nanomaterials from these waste streams, the report concludes that knowledge gaps associated with their final disposal remain, underlining the need for further research in this area.




This publication has been developed by OECD’s Environmental Policy Committee through its Working Party on Resource Productivity and Waste (WPRPW). The individual chapters on recycling, incineration, landfilling and wastewater treatment have been developed by technical experts from Switzerland, Germany, Canada and France. At the OECD Secretariat the project was co-ordinated by Peter Börkey and Shunta Yamaguchi under the supervision of Shardul Agrawala, Head of the Environment and Economy Integration Division.


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