Public Release: 

Nanotech-enabled consumer products continue to rise

Oversight challenges still exist

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars/Science and Technology Innovation Program

WASHINGTON - Nanotech consumer products continue to grow at a consistent pace.

According to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) over 1,300 manufacturer-identified, nanotechnology-enabled products have entered the commercial marketplace around the world. The most recent update to the group's five-year-old inventory reflects the continuing use of the tiny particles in everything from conventional products like non-stick cookware to more unique items such as self-cleaning window treatments.

"The use of nanotechnology in consumer products continues to grow on a rapid and consistent basis," says PEN Director David Rejeski. "When we launched the inventory in March 2006 it contained 212 products. If the current trend continues, the number of products could reach 3,400 by 2020."

Health and fitness items continue to dominate the PEN inventory, representing 56 percent of products listed. More products are based on nanoscale silver--used for its antimicrobial properties--than any other nanomaterial; 313 products (24 percent of the inventory) use silver nanoparticles. The updated inventory represents products from over 30 countries, including the US, China, Canada, Germany, and India. This update also identifies products that were previously available, but for which there is no current information.

"The initial goal of the inventory was to help educate consumers and encourage regulatory bodies to build internal capacity to track products. Unfortunately, as more and more nano-enabled products enter the marketplace, and despite ten years and billions of dollars of investment through the National Nanotechnology Initiative; oversight challenges for agencies like the Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission still exist," according to Dr. Todd Kuiken, a research associate with PEN.

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With an ever increasing number of products becoming available from countries outside the U.S., environmental health and safety research strategies will need to be better coordinated. The release of the updated inventory precedes a joint US-EU workshop, sponsored by the U.S. National Nanotechnology Coordination Office, which is designed to bridge environmental health and safety research strategies. Bridging NanoEHS Research Effort:/A joint US-EU Workshop will be held March 10-11 in Washington, D.C. To learn more visit www.nano.gov.

The PEN consumer products inventory includes products that have been identified by their manufacturer or a credible source as being nanotechnology-based. This update identifies products that were previously sold, but which may no longer be available. It remains the most comprehensive and widely used source of information on nanotechnology-enabled consumer products in the world.

The inventory is available at http://www.nanotechproject.org/inventories/consumer/ or download the findnano iphone application at http://www.nanotechproject.org/iphone/

Nanotechnology is the ability to measure, see, manipulate and manufacture things usually between 1 and 100 nanometers . A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. A human hair is roughly 100,000 nanometers wide. The limit of the human eye's capacity to see without a microscope is about 10,000 nanometers. Lux research projects that by 2015 revenue involving nanotechnologies will reach $2.5 trillion, two trillion of which will be attributable to nano-enabled products.

The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies was launched in 2005 by the Wilson Center and The Pew Charitable Trusts. It is a partnership dedicated to helping business, governments, and the public anticipate and manage the possible health and environmental implications of nanotechnology. To learn more, visit www.nanotechproject.org.

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