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The need for awareness and action in managing nanowaste

Waste containing nanomaterials — or nanowaste — is an emerging safety concern worldwide, warranting specific environmentally sound waste management and regulation.

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Fig. 1: Hazards and risks for different types of nanowaste.
Fig. 2: Examples of colour-coded containers designated for solid and liquid nanowaste.
Fig. 3: Example of a single packaging label for nanowaste storage and transport according to the GHS14 and the ADR15.


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This article is based on initial safety instruction work by Yuki Umehara and Nico Bruns at the Adolphe Merkle Institute (AMI). We are grateful to Georg Karlaganis and Oliver Wootton from UNITAR for the insights they provided into the global regulation, and to Michael Mayer, Anita Roulin, Dimitri Vanhecke, and the members of the BioNanomaterials group at AMI for helpful discussions.

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Authors and Affiliations



B.R.-R., A.P.-F., and F.S. conceived the idea of the article. F.S. wrote the article with contributions from B.B.K., made the figures, and gathered most of the information with contributions from B.R.-R. and A.P.-F. A.S. and T.M. contributed with their insights and experience as workplace hygienists and safety officers at the University of Fribourg and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), respectively. The manuscript was critically reviewed by A.P.-F., B.R.-R., T.M., A.S., and B.B.K. All co-authors read and approved the manuscript prior to submission.

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Correspondence to Fabienne Schwab or Alke Petri-Fink.

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Competing interests

The authors declare the following competing interests: F.S. was supported by Innosuisse, the Swiss Agency for Innovation (project No. 38515.1 IP-EE). F.S. has a patent pending on a SiO2-NP plant growth enhancer (WO2020212526A1). This research was also supported by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, the Adolphe Merkle Foundation, and the University of Fribourg. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this commentary is those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Swiss Government. This work has not been subjected to review by the Swiss government or any of its institutions, and no official endorsement should be inferred. The authors declare no other competing interest.

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Nature Nanotechnology thanks Gabriel Sigmund for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Schwab, F., Rothen-Rutishauser, B., Scherz, A. et al. The need for awareness and action in managing nanowaste. Nat. Nanotechnol. 18, 317–321 (2023).

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