Environmental Risks of Nanotechnology - bifa Text No. 67 published
Use of nanomaterials in products has been on the increase for several years. It is only a matter of time before these products become waste and nanomaterials are thus input into waste streams. At present, few areas of use are known in which synthetically produced nanomaterials are deliberately input into the biomass material flow. Furthermore, there are various development approaches which make input likely. Several nanomaterials can have antimicrobial effects, in others it is not known whether they cause or limit antimicrobial effects on metabolic activities directly or through subsequent reactions.
By using diverse biotests (growth inhibition tests) the effect of selected nanomaterials on aerobic and anaerobic degradation processes was therefore tested. The results show that in the test systems used, relatively high initial doses of nanomaterial have short-term effects. Long-term impacts of nanomaterials on the composition of microbial biocenoses may possibly exist. However, this could not be examined within the scope of this project. There is a need for further research into the development of suitable analytical detection methods for nanomaterials in the various material flows of the waste industry and to increase our knowledge of the effect of biological activities on the environmental stability of nanomaterials.
The impact of nanomaterial inputs into the waste material flow is important for various stakeholders. If necessary, producers of nanomaterial-based products could demonstrate the safety of their products as part of their product responsibility. Competent authorities involved in environmental monitoring could use the knowledge, for example, within the scope of permits. Operators of recycling and recovery plants could use this information to estimate the impact of nanomaterial inputs on the activity and stability of their recovery processes.
The study was funded by the Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Consumer Protection (Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Umwelt und Verbraucherschutz). bifa Text No. 67 "Environmental Risks of Nanotechnology: Securing the Recycling Economy with Biological Test Procedures" ("Umweltrisiken der Nanotechnologie: Sicherung der Kreislaufwirtschaft mit biologischen Testverfahren") contains detailed documentation of the background facts and relationships and can be purchased with immediate effect from www.bifa.de (price: euro 14.75 + VAT + p&p).