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Nanoparticles as Compounds of Potential Concern – A Technical Paper Update (TPU) for Water Environment Federation

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In the very near future water environment industry will have to address an entirely new family of pollutants due to exponentially increasing use of manufactured nanomaterials in industrial and commercial products. Manufactured nanomaterials, by definition, are extremely small (1 – 100 nm), and are often manipulated at molecular level to generate "new" types of compounds. When reduced to nanoscale size, several physical/chemical properties of materials, such as color, conductivity, transparency, solubility and reactivity can be different than their source material. As a result, nanomaterials have been shown to behave very differently than their conventional (macro scale) counterparts, and offer superior product performance. The market place for nanomaterials containing products is increasing exponentially. In the past year more than 200 products containing manufactured nanomaterials costing over $32 billion were sold in the world market. In less than ten years this market is estimated to exceed $2.5 trillion.

Very soon effluents from industrial and domestic sources containing nanomaterials will be increasingly released into wastewater treatment plants. It is reasonable to assume that the unique physical and chemical characteristics of some nanoparticles that make them attractive for new products may cause harm to human and the environment upon their release. Limited available data indicate that nanoparticles behave differently during water treatment. Preliminary studies on toxicity effects of nanomaterials indicate potential harm to human health and environment, pointing the need to perform more studies. Hence, it is imperative that the following information regarding nanomaterials should be made available to the water environment industry:

• What are the potential sources of nanomaterials in wastewater, i.e., what are the industries, processes and products that are likely to release nanomaterials into wastewater?

• What are the health effects of nanomaterials once they are released into the environment?

• How can nanomaterials be removed in wastewater treatment processes?

• How can the nanomaterials be measured / monitored in wastewater matrix?

• What are the existing and impending regulations on the use and release of nanomaterials?

This Technical Paper Update (TPU), currently prepared for Water Environment Federation (WEF), will provide an overview of the above issues. The proposed outline for the TPU is presented below.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2007-10-01

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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