Over 1,000 nanotechnology-enabled products have been made available to consumers
around the world, according to the Project
on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN). The most recent update to the group's
three-and-a-half-year-old inventory reflects the increasing use of the tiny
particles in everything from conventional products like non-stick cookware and
lighter, stronger tennis racquets, to more unique items such as wearable sensors
that monitor posture.
“The use of nanotechnology in consumer products continues to grow rapidly,”
says PEN Director David Rejeski. “When we launched the inventory in March
2006 we only had 212 products. If the introduction of new products continues
at the present rate, the number of products listed in the inventory will reach
close to 1,600 within the next two years. This will provide significant oversight
challenges for agencies like the Food and Drug Administration and Consumer Product
Safety Commission, which often lack any mechanisms to identify nanotech products
before they enter the marketplace.”
Health and fitness items continue to dominate the PEN inventory, representing
60 percent of products listed. More products are based on nanoscale silver—used
for its antimicrobial properties—than any other nanomaterial; 259 products
(26 percent of the inventory) use silver nanoparticles. The updated inventory
represents products from over 24 countries, including the US, China, Canada,
and Germany. This update also identifies products that were previously available,
but for which there is no current information.
The release of the updated inventory coincides with the first public hearing
on nanotechnology being held by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
The CPSC, with a staff of fewer than 400 employees, oversees the safety of 15,000
types of consumer products.
Andrew Maynard, chief science advisor for PEN, noted that “the CPSC deserves
credit for focusing on nanotechnologies. The resources available to the agency
to address health and safety issues are negligible compared to the over $1.5
billion federal investment in nanotechnology research and development.”
The inventory is available at http://www.nanotechproject.org/inventories/consumer/
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.