Nanomaterials in Waste Streams

Current Knowledge on Risks and Impacts

image of Nanomaterials in Waste Streams

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.



The fate of engineered nanomaterials in sewage treatment plants and agricultural applications

This chapter investigates the current state of knowledge on engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) and their behaviour in wastewater treatment processes in order to identify areas for future research. It focuses on the processes currently in use for urban sewerage treatment and begins by investigating the presence of engineered nanomaterials in wastewater treatment plants. It the moves on to examine the possible retention and aggregation of engineered nanomaterials in activated sludge and explores the possible transformations that ENMs can undergo in treatment plants and the models that are available to predict these transformations. The chapter also discusses the potential risks of agricultural application of sewerage sludge that is charged with engineered nanomaterials. The chapter concludes by identifying knowledge gaps and areas where additional research would be required.


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