Memo 10/08: Carbon nanotube (CNT) waste disposal

The Environment Agency (EA) has issued new advice on the classification and disposal of wastes containing unbound carbon nanotubes (i.e. wastes where the nanotubes are not fixed within a matrix and are capable of being inhaled).

Recent evidence from experiments in mice[1] has suggested that this material displays length-related, pathogenic behaviour similar to that of asbestos fibres. In the light of this information, the EA is adopting a precautionary approach to the protection of people and the environment. Wastes containing > 0.1% w/w must be classified as hazardous and disposed of accordingly.

Some departments and research groups already send CNT waste to the Safety Office for disposal as hazardous waste. All departments must now ensure that they dispose of waste containing unbound CNTs by this route.