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Assessing nanoparticle release from waste water treatment using radiolabeled nanoparticles

Schymura, S.; Hildebrand, H.; Neugebauer, M.; Lange, T.; Schneider, P.; Franke, K.

Waste water treatment plants (WWTPs) represent an important step in the life cycle of manufactured nanomaterials. A considerable amount of nanoparticles (NPs) that are released from consumer products will end up in WWTPs, so that WWTPs can both serve as a potential end of life point for these nanoparticles, as well as a point of reentry into the environment via the WWTP effluents. It is thus of utmost importance to accurately quantify the fate of manufactured nanomaterials in waste water treatment in order to assess the risk
We used the radiolabeling of nanoparticles to accurately quantify the distribution of nanoparticles between the effluents of a model waste water treatment plant. In order to achieve this TiO2 NP were radiolabeled with V-48 using proton irradiation at our cyclotron. Multi-wall carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) were radiolabeled with Be-7 via recoil at our cyclotron. CdSe/ZnS Quantum dots were radiolabeled with Zn-65 and Se-75 via radiosynthesis. The radiolabeled NPs were used in batch experiments and model waste water treatment plant experiments.
The radiolabeling allowed us to quantify NP distribution between sludge and water phase in the WWTP and in the WWTP effluents. A distribution of about 10000 : 1 between sludge-associated NPs and free NPs in water is reached in the WWTP already shortly after injection of the NPs. Thus the elimination of the NPs from the WWTP is mainly controlled by the removal of surplus sludge taking place every day of operation. The NPs are eliminated from the WWTP with a half-life of about 6 days reflecting the pre-set sludge age. After about 22 days of operation 10 % of the initial NPs remain in the WWTP. Approximately 1 % of the NPs leave the WWTP via the cleared waste water, mainly associated with non-sedimented sludge particles, such that only about 1 ‰ of the NPs leave the WWTP as free particles via the cleared water. An impact of the NPs on the clearing process, as monitored by chemical oxygen demand of the inflow vs. the outflow, was not observed.

Keywords: nanoparticles; waste water treatment; radiolabeling

  • Lecture (Conference) (Online presentation)
    Nanosafe 2020, 16.-20.11.2020, Grenoble, France

Publ.-Id: 31658