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Issue 8, 2019
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Prospective environmental risk assessment of nanocellulose for Europe

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Abstract

The many appealing properties of nanocellulose have led to increasing interest in the material from research and industry over the past years, with the material showing potential for both industrial and consumer goods. This will unavoidably lead to increasing release of nanocellulose into the environment. Although nanocellulose is largely regarded as non-toxic, knowledge gaps surrounding its impacts on the environment and human health still exist and data remains scarce. This study aimed to quantitatively assess the environmental risk of nanocellulose by characterizing both environmental exposure and hazard. Firstly, a probabilistic species sensitivity distribution (PSSD) was developed to assess the hazard by calculating the predicted no effect concentration (PNEC) of the surface water compartment, resulting in a PNEC of 7.8 mg l−1 (mean value of the distribution). Secondly, the dynamic probabilistic material flow assessment (DPMFA) method was employed to assess the exposure by quantifying the predicted environmental concentration (PEC), using the European Union as a system boundary, and 2000 to 2025 as timeframe. This resulted in a PEC in surface water of 0.23 μg l−1 in 2015 and 2.37 μg l−1 in 2025 (mean values). The PEC and PNEC distributions allowed for the calculation of the risk characterization ratio (RCR). Results show an RCR of 6.9 × 10−5 in 2015, and 7.1 × 10−4 in 2025, implying that under the chosen assumptions there is no present or future environmental risk surrounding nanocellulose within the surface water compartment, even assuming a compound annual growth rate of 19% for nanocellulose production in upcoming years.

Graphical abstract: Prospective environmental risk assessment of nanocellulose for Europe

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
25 Apr 2019
Accepted
24 Jun 2019
First published
15 Jul 2019

This article is Open Access

Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2019,6, 2520-2531
Article type
Paper

Prospective environmental risk assessment of nanocellulose for Europe

N. Stoudmann, B. Nowack and C. Som, Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2019, 6, 2520
DOI: 10.1039/C9EN00472F

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported Licence. Material from this article can be used in other publications provided that the correct acknowledgement is given with the reproduced material and it is not used for commercial purposes.

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    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the European Society for Photobiology, the European Photochemistry Association, and RSC.
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    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry.

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