1 Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Denmark2 Residual Resource Engineering, Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Denmark3 Environmental Chemistry, Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Denmark
Information related to the potential environmental exposure of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) in the solid waste management phase is extremely scarce. In this paper, we define nanowaste as separately collected or collectable waste materials which are or contain ENMs, and we present a five-step framework for the systematic assessment of ENM exposure during nanowaste management. The framework includes deriving EOL nanoproducts and evaluating the physicochemical properties of the nanostructure, matrix properties and nanowaste treatment processes as well as transformation processes and environment releases, eventually leading to a final assessment of potential ENM exposure. The proposed framework was applied to three selected nanoproducts: nanosilver polyester textile, nanoTiO2 sunscreen lotion and carbon nanotube tennis racquets. We found that the potential global environmental exposure of ENMs associated with these three products was an estimated 0.5–143 Mg/year, which can also be characterised qualitatively as medium, medium, low, respectively. Specific challenges remain and should be subject to further research: (1) analytical techniques for the characterisation of nanowaste and its transformation during waste treatment processes, (2) mechanisms for the release of ENMs, (3) the quantification of nanowaste amounts at the regional scale, (4) a definition of acceptable limit values for exposure to ENMs from nanowaste and (5) the reporting of nanowaste generation data.
Journal of Nanoparticle Research, 2014, Vol 16, Issue 6