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Burning issue of waste nanomaterials

Incinerating waste containing nanomaterials could increase emissions of some types of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), according to a US study.

Disposal of some waste containing nanomaterials through incineration is inevitable, says the research team, led by Linsey Marr from Virginia Tech. They incinerated paper and plastic waste containing a range of nanomaterials and monitored the chemicals released.

The presence of the nanomaterials resulted in higher emissions of some PAH species and lower emissions of others. Total PAH emission factors were on average six times higher for waste spiked with nanomaterials.

“The combination of high specific surface area and catalytic, including electrocatalytic, properties of nanomaterials might be responsible for affecting the formation of toxic pollutants during incineration,” write the researchers.

The study will be published in Environmental Science and Technology.

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