The number of consumer products using nanotechnology has more than doubled, from 212 to 475, in the 14 months since the Wilson Center’s Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) launched the world’s first online inventory of manufacturer-identified nanotech goods in March 2006. Noted as a resource for advertised or labeled nanotechnology products in an article in the July 2007 issue of Consumer Reports magazine, the newly updated PEN list is available free at www.nanotechproject.org/consumerproducts. It includes clothing, cosmetics, bedding, jewelry, sporting goods, nutritional and personal care items. It is searchable by product name, product categories, company name, and key words in product descriptions.
- Nanoscale silver is the most cited nanomaterial used. It is found in 95 products or 20 percent of the inventory. Carbon, including carbon nanotubes and fullerenes, is the second highest nanoscale material cited.
- The food and beverages category, including containers and dietary supplements, doubled to 61 products since last year.
- Merchandise from 20 countries is now represented. The United States leads internationally with 52 percent or 247 consumer products that contain nanotechnology. East Asia now boasts 123 products, a 58 percent increase over last year.
- New products in the inventory include the Corsa Nanotech Ice Axe which uses an innovative Sandvik Nanoflex® steel alloy that’s 20 percent lighter than normal steel and up to 60 percent stronger. There’s also Maat* Crystal Clear Nano Silver-a clear liquid dietary supplement which peddles protection against colds, flu, and hundreds of diseases, even anthrax.
While polls show most Americans know little or nothing about nanotechnology, in 2005 nanotechnology was incorporated into more than $30 billion in manufactured goods. By 2014, Lux Research estimates $2.6 trillion in manufactured goods will incorporate nanotechnology-or about 15 percent of total global output.
“The use of nanotechnology in consumer products and industrial applications is growing rapidly, with the products listed in the inventory showing just the tip of the iceberg,” said Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies Science Advisor Andrew Maynard. “How consumers respond to these early products-in food, electronics, health care, clothing and cars-will be a litmus test for broader market acceptance of nanotechnologies in the future.”
Nanotechnology is the ability to measure, see, manipulate and manufacture things usually between 1 and 100 nanometers (nm). 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 nm.
The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies is an initiative launched by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and The Pew Charitable Trusts in 2005. It is dedicated to helping business, government and the public anticipate and manage possible health and environmental implications of nanotechnology.