U.S. Senators Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) have introduced a bill (S. 1662) that focuses on the potential risks of products containing nanomaterials. The Nanotechnology Regulatory Science Act of 2011 would establish a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) program to conduct the scientific research needed to evaluate the health and safety of common nanotech products and develop safety practices for companies using the technology. The measure would authorize $48 million for the program over three years starting in fiscal year 2013; the lawmakers said their home states have the FDA laboratories and research facilities suited to conduct the studies.

The senators claim that more than 800 commercial uses of nanotechnology are currently known and more than 1,300 consumer nanotechnology products, including cell phones, MP3 players and food packaging, are available on the market. The National Science Foundation estimated in 2010 that new nanotechnology-based products would create 2 million jobs and add $1 trillion in revenue to the global economy by 2015.

“From new cancer treatments to stain-resistant pants, nanotechnology offers hundreds of promising applications and jobs,” Pryor said. “As these products are developed and used, we should assess potential risks to human health, safety, or the environment.” Introduced on October 6, 2011, the bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. See Sens. Mark Pryor and Benjamin Cardin Press Releases, October 6, 2011.