U.S. Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) today said a bill to address potential health and safety risks of certain products containing nanomaterials is headed to the President's desk for his signature. The provision is part of the FDA Safety and Innovation Act.
The measure mirrors legislation they introduced last year, the Nanotechnology Regulatory Science Act of 2011, to establish a regulatory science program within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to assess the health and safety of nanomaterials in drugs, medical devices and over-the-counter consumer products such as cosmetics, sunscreens and food additives. The bill requires the FDA to enhance the scientific knowledge regarding products containing nanomaterials, to address issues relevant to the regulation of those products, including the potential therapeutic benefits and toxicology of such nanomaterials, and evaluate the effects of such nanomaterials on biological systems.
The FDA already has facilities in place, such as the National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) in Jefferson, Arkansas, 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.
"Nanotechnology is increasingly being used to improve everyday products, yet we have little independent research to show whether these products remain safe once they contain nanomaterials," Pryor said. "This bill provides an opportunity for the FDA to focus more on these health and safety studies. With its strong record of excellence, I believe NCTR is an ideal candidate to take the lead in this arena."
"Nanotechnology has grown to be indispensable in our daily lives but as this burgeoning technology continues to power more of our consumer products and drive job creation in America, it is essential that we fully assess, understand and address any risks that nanotechnology may pose to safety, public health and our environment," Cardin said. "The high-tech infrastructure at the consolidated headquarters at White Oak provides the FDA with an opportunity for innovation to meet challenges in nanotechnology product safety."
There are over 800 known commercial uses of nanotechnology and over 1,300 consumer nanotechnology products available. In 2010, the National Science Foundation estimated new nanotechnology-based products would contribute 2 million jobs and $1 trillion dollars in revenue to the world's economy by 2015.