A Risk/Benefit Appraisal for the Application of Nano-Scale Zero Valent Iron (nZVI)

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Courtesy of NANO IRON s.r.o.

NanoRem (Taking Nanotechnological Remediation Processes from Lab Scale to End User Applications for the Restoration of a Clean Environment) is a research project, funded through the European Commission’s Framework 7 research programme. NanoRem focuses on facilitating practical, safe, economic and exploitable nanotechnology for in situ remediation. This is being undertaken in parallel with developing a comprehensive understanding of the environmental risk-benefit for the use of nanoparticles (NPs), market demand, overall sustainability, and stakeholder perceptions. Through examination of the currently available documented evidence, this paper attempts to assess the relative risks and benefits of nZVI usage for in situ remediation, and identify the areas where further investigation might be required. An overview of nZVI use in field, pilot and laboratory trials to date is provided. This paper supports Milestone 3 of the NanoRem project, and is intended to help stakeholders by providing a basis for evidence-based decisions.

This paper reviews the use of nZVI in remediation in the context of contaminant risk management, i.e. the breaking of linkages between source, pathway and receptor. It describes the likely benefits of nZVI deployment, and issues affecting its use. It details the existing document level on the risks of deployment of nZVI (i.e. the potential for the nZVI treatment agent itself to cause human health or environmental risks) and its sustainability as a technique. It suggests the key issues that might impact the regulation or permitting of nZVI use in remediation and provides general conclusions about risks versus benefits and continuing research needs.

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