New Nanotechnology Inventory

March 13th, 2006

Posted by: admin

On Friday, the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies released an inventory of 200 existing consumer products that claim to incorporate nanotechnology.

Here is a link to the inventory.

The inventory has implications both for the economic value of nanotech investments (currently over $1 Billion in US federal funding alone), and also for the EHS (Environmental, Health, and Safety) dimenions of nanotech in society. We might think of these as conflicting understandings of “health” – one focused on economic health, the other on human and environmental health.

Not too long ago, a report “slammed” nanotech research and its funding for not delivering economically. The Wilson Center’s inventory may this reassure some as a contrary indicator.

On the other hand, Congress held hearings late last year and last month to explore EHS issues related to nanotech. The Wilson inventory may thus also raise alarms about health and safety.

An article in Friday’s Washington Post includes discussion of both of these dimensions of health. Here is an excerpt:

“The growing variety of nano-based consumer products “is what you’d hope for after a billion-dollar investment in this country,” said Vicki Colvin, director of the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology at Rice University in Houston. But with regulators still not sure what to make of the new science, Colvin said, “these companies have a great responsibility right now to do the safety testing and, to the extent possible, make those findings public.”"

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