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How can nanomaterials be safely disposed of?

Home FAQHandling and disposal of any waste containing nanomaterials should follow and comply with all applicable local, regional and national waste regulations, despite these regulations not being specific to nanomaterials. A number of guidance documents providing practical advice on how to control occupational exposure to manufactured nanomaterials in the workplace, include specific guidance on safe disposal of nanomaterials, links to which are provided on our Guidance pages.

The main recommendations for the safe disposal of engineered nanomaterials from these guidance documents are summarised below:

  • a precautionary approach should be taken to handling nanomaterial-containing waste, such that all nanomaterial waste should be disposed of and treated as “hazardous waste”. 
  • nanomaterial-containing waste should be treated in accordance with the waste management hierarchy: reduction in the amount of waste produced > reuse of the material > recovery (e.g. recycling) > energy recovery > disposal.
  • any materials or equipment that have come into contact with nanomaterials, and all debris resulting from the clean-up of a spillage or accidental release, should be considered as nanomaterial-containing waste. This includes PPE, wipes, blotters and other disposable laboratory materials.
  • materials from nanomaterial-bearing waste streams should not be put into the regular waste or down the drain.
  • equipment used to manufacture or handle nanomaterials should be decontaminated before it is disposed of or reused.
  • waste should be managed in such a way that minimises exposure of those handling the waste to the nanomaterial component, including via the use of containment and (disposable) protective clothing .
  • information relating to the hazardous properties of the material to be disposed of should be passed on to anyone involved in the disposal of that material (e.g. waste carrier);
  • disposal of nanomaterial-containing waste should be undertaken in accordance with local and national regulatory requirements for waste management.

SAFENANO can provide tailored best practice advice for the safe handling and use of nanomaterials in your workplace. For further information, please visit our service pages or contact us.

Did you know?

4 µm is the median aerodynamic diameter of particles that fall within the respirable size range.