Status of nanoremediation and its potential for future deployment: Risk-benefit and benchmarking appraisals.
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NanoRem (Taking Nanotechnological Remediation Processes from Lab Scale to End User Applications for the Restoration of a Clean Environment) was a research project, funded through the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme, which focuses on facilitating practical, safe, economic, and exploitable nanotechnology for in situ remediation of polluted soil and groundwater, which closed in January 2017. This article describes the status of the nanoremediation implementation and future opportunities for deployment based on risk-benefit appraisal and benchmarking undertaken in the NanoRem Project. As of November 2016, NanoRem identified 100 deployments of nanoremediation in the field. While the majority of these are pilot-scale deployments, there are a number of large scale deployments over the last five to 10 years. Most applications have been for plume control (i.e., pathway management in groundwater), but a number of source control measures appear to have taken place. Nanoremediation has been most frequently applied to problems of chlorinated solvents and metals (such as chromium VI). The perception of risk-benefit balance for nanoremediation has shifted as the NanoRem Project has proceeded. Niche benefits are now more strongly recognized, and some (if not most) of the concerns, for example, relating to environmental risks of nanoremediation deployment, prevalent when the project was proposed and initiated, have been addressed. Indeed, these now appear overstated. However, it appears to remain the case that in some jurisdictions the use of nanoparticles remains less attractive owing to regulatory concerns and/or a lack of awareness, meaning that regulators may demand additional verification measures compared to technologies with which they have a greater level of comfort.