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FAQ: Sustainability and environment

Q: How are nanoproducts and nanomaterial recycled?

A: Currently, products that contains nanomaterials are not recycled in any other way than all other products Regulations and policies for how to declare any nano-contents in a product are lacking. This means that at places (e g Sysav) where recycling is conducted, there is no way to know if there is any risk for occupational exposure of nanoparticles.


Q: When is there a risk that nanoparticles unintentionally end up in the environment?

A: Often four scenarios are mentioned to categorize the release of engineered nanoparticles into the environment [Gottshalk 2011]: release during production, release from manufacturing processes, release from products (e.g. unintended release by degradation or abrasion of the product), and finally release from technical compartments (e.g. wastewater treatment plants). According to the literature, engineered nanoparticles are most likely to be released during synthesis and handling (the first two stages). This highlights the importance of occupational measurements of airborne particles, where various activities/processes in relation to nanoparticles take place. However, release can also occur during the “use” phase, where it is influenced by environmental factors such as humidity, pressure, UV radiation and human activities, and also during the “post-use” phases, where release is mainly driven by the waste treatment of products containing these materials, as well as environmental factors [Nowack 2013].



Gottschalk F, Nowack B (2011) The release of engineered nanomaterials to the environment. J Environ Monitor 13(5):1145–1155. doi:10.1039/c0em00547a

Nowack B, David RM, Fissan H, Morris H, Shatkin JA, Stintz M, Zepp R, Brouwer D (2013) Potential release scenarios for carbon nanotubes used in composites. Environ Int 59:1–11. doi:10.1016/j.envint.2013.04.003