U.S. Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) recently introduced legislation to address potential health and safety risks about products that contain nanotechnology materials.
"Nanotechnology is one of the most important and enabling technologies being developed right now, and it has hundreds of promising applications - from new cancer treatments to improved military machinery to stain-resistant pants," Pryor said. "As these products are developed and used, we must understand any potential risks to human health, safety or the environment. My legislation will help ensure public safety and confidence in the marketplace, and it will support companies that employ nanotechnology materials."
"Nanotechnology touches so many facets of our lives today and will play a greater role in the future, but the benefits to industry and consumers come with unknown risks that must be identified and managed appropriately," said Cardin.
The Nanotechnology Safety Act of 2010 would establish a program within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to assess the health and safety implications of nanotechnology in everyday products and develop best practices for companies who employ nanotechnology. The legislation authorizes $25M each year from 2011 through 2015.
Pryor said the FDA already has facilities in place, such as the National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) in Jefferson, AR, and its consolidated headquarters at White Oak, Maryland, that could conduct the scientific studies required under the bill. Both locations currently provide the FDA with innovative scientific technology, training, methods development, and technical expertise to improve public health.
"The National Center for Toxicological Research has built a record of excellence in its mission to provide scientifically sound basis for FDA decisions. This success is due, in part, to its strong partnerships with researchers in government, the private sector, and academia," Pryor said. "I view NCTR as an ideal candidate for leading our nation's nanotechnology health and safety studies."
"The high-tech infrastructure at the new consolidated headquarters at White Oak provides the FDA with an opportunity for innovation and more effective use of technology to meet challenges in product safety, global markets, and increased consumer demand. The unprecedented partnerships among scientists and researchers, and its proximity to the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, make it an ideal location to assess current and future nanotechnology," said Cardin.
There are over 600 known commercial uses of nanotechnology. In 2004, the National Science Foundation estimated new nanotechnology-based products would contribute 2 million jobs and $1T dollars in revenue to the world's economy by 2015.