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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. > EPA Will Continue Review of Engineered Nanomaterials in Wastewater

Lynn L. Bergeson
Managing Director
Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

Abstract:
On August 4, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of its Final 2014 Effluent Guidelines Program Plan.

August 10th, 2015

EPA Will Continue Review of Engineered Nanomaterials in Wastewater

On August 4, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of its Final 2014 Effluent Guidelines Program Plan. See http://water.epa.gov/scitech/wastetech/guide/304m/index.cfm The Final Program Plan includes the following findings from EPA's review of engineered nanomaterials in industrial wastewater:

- Some manufacturing and processing methods likely generate wastewater, but the quantity generated and waste management practices are not documented;

- Toxicity hazards from engineered nanomaterials have been demonstrated in the laboratory, but the environmental and human health risks are largely unknown;

- Fate of and exposure to industrial wastewater releases of engineered nanomaterials to the environment have not been studied;

- The small size, unique properties, and complexity of engineered nanomaterials present a challenge for environmental monitoring, risk assessment, and regulation;

- Methods for detecting and characterizing nanomaterials in complex media, like industrial wastewater, are under development;

- EPA has not approved any standardized methods for sampling, detecting, or quantifying of nanomaterials in aqueous media; and

- Research has shown that common treatment technologies employed at municipal wastewater treatment plants can remove nanomaterials from the wastewater, but that these may then accumulate in the sludge.

EPA states that its review also identified four main areas of further research appropriate to assess better the potential presence and impact of engineered nanomaterials in industrial wastewater:

- Development of standard methods and sampling techniques to detect and characterize nanomaterials in industrial wastewater;

- Evaluation of engineered nanomaterial toxicity impacts and potential occurrence in industrial wastewater, taking into consideration relevant forms and concentrations of engineered nanomaterials;

- Identification of the universe of engineered nanomaterial facilities, their production values, and the waste generated and disposed of during the manufacturing and processing of engineered nanomaterials; and

- Evaluation and characterization of the fate, transformation, and treatment of engineered nanomaterials in industrial wastewaters.

EPA states that it plans to continue to monitor ongoing research on engineered nanomaterials in future annual reviews and will collect any new information as it becomes available, particularly related to the following data gaps:

- Development of standard methods and sampling techniques to detect and characterize nanomaterials in industrial wastewater;

- Evaluation of engineered nanomaterial toxicity impacts and potential occurrence in industrial wastewater, taking into consideration relevant forms and concentrations of engineered nanomaterials;

- Identification of the universe of facilities, their production values, and the nature of the waste generated and disposed by manufacturing and processing of engineered nanomaterials; and

- Evaluation and characterization of the fate, transformation, and treatment of engineered nanomaterials in industrial wastewaters.

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