Press Release

October 6, 2011

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) today introduced legislation with U.S. Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) to address potential health and safety risks about products that contain nanotechnology materials. 

“Nanotechnology has become increasingly indispensible in our daily lives—everything from our cellphones and MP3 players, to packaging of our snack foods, to cancer treatments in development employ the use of nanotechnology,” said Senator Cardin.  “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.  By soundly assessing the safety of nanotechnology and developing best practices, this legislation will further job creation, public safety and growth in the industry.” 

The Nanotechnology Regulatory Science Act of 2011 would establish a program within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to assess the health and safety implications of using nanotechnology in everyday products and develop best practices for companies using nanotechnology.  This new program would bring more highly-skilled research jobs to Maryland. The legislation authorizes $48 million over three years, starting in 2013.

Senator Cardin said the FDA’s laboratories and research facilities at its consolidated headquarters at White Oak, Maryland are “ideally suited to conduct the scientific studies required under the bill.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) is similarly equipped to provide innovative scientific technology, training, methods development, and technical expertise to improve public health.

“The high-tech infrastructure at the newly consolidated headquarters at White Oak provides the FDA with an opportunity for innovation to meet challenges in nanotechnology product safety,” Senator Cardin added.  “The highly-skilled workforce at White Oak and nearby Beltsville Agricultural Research Center have the skills to determine the safety implications of using nanotechnology, all while adapting to the pace of worldwide consumer demand for this economically booming industry’s products. Ensuring improved consumer safety through advanced research also means more jobs for Maryland. ” 

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.