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Nanotech-enabled consumer products continue to rise

March 10th, 2011

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.

Provided by Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

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