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Nanotechnology and the Water Market: Applications and Health Effects

F.S. Mowat and J. Tsuji
Exponent, US

disinfection, remediation, desalination, health

Nanotechnology has an enormous potential for creating cost-effective, simple, and efficient tools for addressing water supply challenges, while preventing the creation of potentially toxic by-products. Applications include water disinfection and filtration, real-time and remote monitoring, groundwater and subsurface treatment, and wastewater recycling. This presentation will discuss many of these applications in the context of remediation, desalination, and purification, discussing benefits and drawbacks associated with the technologies and implications on health. The success of technologies using nanotechnology will also depend on whether the nanoparticles and fibers can be confined and isolated from human and environmental exposures and assessments of the potential health and environmental risks if exposures do occur. To truly qualify as “green” technology, applications of nanotechnology will need to demonstrate that such exposures and potential concerns for health and environmental risk can be managed adequately. Although treatments using nanotechnology will not result in halogenated byproducts, exposure to nanoparticles may be a concern because of their ability to remain in suspension in water or airborne because of their small size and to cross biological membranes and barriers. In discussing these technologies, factors determining health effects and impacts on society will be discussed.

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