Assessing Nanoparticle Dangers in Auto Parts Recycling - Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety Education and Research Center

Assessing Nanoparticle Dangers in Auto Parts Recycling

carsWhat happens to nanomaterials when automobile parts are shredded for recycling? Do workers receive harmful exposures to nanoparticles emitted from the parts? EnHS assistant professor Pete Raynor set out to learn more in a study funded by the U.S. Council for Automotive Research.

Raynor’s team worked with engineers at Argonne National Laboratory to simulate the recycling process for a specific nanocomposite used in cars and then measured particle concentrations in the air. The team didn’t find any evidence that the recycling process released airborne nanomaterials. “Actually, the ambient air generally had higher leels of nanoparticles than the air we tested,” says Raynor.

Raynor is pleased that the auto industry is supporting this sort of safety research, especially considering that car parts manufactured now won’t likely be recycled for at least another 10 years. “It’s pretty forward thinking,” he says. “Now [automakers] have comfort that they aren’t, to the best of their knowledge, going to create problems for workers or the environment.”

– From SPH Advances, Winter 2010