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NanoWASTE – Investigating the fate of nanomaterials in waste water treatment plants: removal, release and subsequent impacts

NanoWASTE is a research project funded by the Norwegian Research Council that studies the fate, removal, release and subsequent impacts of manufactured nanomaterials (MNMs) in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs).

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Manufactured nanomaterials (MNMs) in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs)
Manufactured nanomaterials (MNMs) in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs).

The quantity of MNMs used in consumer products continues to increase. Some consumer products such as cosmetics directly expose humans and the environment to the nanomaterials. However, in many technological applications and consumer products MNMs are 'locked away' during the product lifetime. At the end of the product's lifecycle, most consumer products will enter a waste processing facility, and MNMs could potentially be released.

The NanoWASTE project seeks to answer key questions for understanding and modeling MNM fate, their potential impact on WWTPs and their subsequent environmental effects.

MNMs offer a great innovative and economic potential However, knowledge on potential human and environmental risk, especially at their "end of life" is limited. The effluent from urban WWTPs is considered a significant source of manufactured nanomaterials emissions to aquatic and terrestrial environments.

Within the NanoWASTE project we want to fill existing knowledge gaps on MNM 'end of life' processes in WWTPs and provide high quality data for scientists and regulatory authorities by:

  • developing a set of "state of the art" methods for characterizing MNMs in WWTPs and how they are transformed during the treatment processes
  • studying the removal capacity for MNMs and their potential impacts on biological processes in WWTP
  • testing the ecotoxicological potential of aged MNMs in comparison with pristine MNMs
  • creating high quality data that will be used to develop models for predicting MNM fate in WWTP processes

NanoWASTE is coordinated by SINTEF and involves a further four national and international partner institutes: the Norwegian Institute of Water Research (NIVA), the Norwegian Institute for Bio-economy Research (NIBIO), the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and the Imperial College of London.

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Project duration

01/12/2014 - 31/05/2018

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