life cycle analysis, wastewater, treatment, toxicological implications, regulatory restrictions
The fate of nanoparticles in commercial products at the end of product life is not entirely clear. This uncertainty, coupled with the unknowns regarding the potential for risks to human health and the environment, could inspire a backlash against specific nano-enabled products. Consider, for example, Samsung’s SilverCare™ option on several models of washing machine. Samsung marketed the antibacterial action of generating nano particles of silver as a benefit to customers, but initial efforts met with resistance in Germany and the washing machine was briefly taken off the market in Sweden due to concerns over the potential toxic effects of discharging silver nanoparticles from these machines to wastewater treatment plants. This paper will discuss wastewater discharges containing nanoscale materials and their potential risks, considering: 1. Mass balance approach. This paper will use a mass balance approach to synthesize the results of research related to the discharge and treatment of nanomaterials and estimate the magnitude of potential discharges. It will also discuss the toxicological implications of these discharges. 2. Regulatory restrictions on discharges. The paper will discuss the regulatory and policy approaches being considered in addressing effluent containing nanomaterials. Case studies will illustrate the differences between perception and reality.