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Consumer Product Safety Commission not ready for nanotech
Date:8/21/2008

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"During the fall of 2007, many Americans faced a hazard in their products that had been banned for 30 years lead. As millions of children's toys coated with lead paint were recalled, it became clear that government oversight had failed, and that the CPSC, the agency primarily responsible for the oversight of these toys, was stretched too thin from years of neglect, underfunding and the challenges posed by an increasingly global manufacturing system," says PEN Director David Rejeski. "It is against this background that we need to ask the question: Is the CPSC adequately prepared to deal with nanotechnology, which is now associated with more than 800 manufacturer-identified consumer products ranging from infant pacifiers to paints to appliances to clothing?"

The release of PEN's new report comes on the heels of the president signing legislation that eliminates lead in toys and either permanently or temporarily bans six types of phthalates in children's products, which are under the CPSC's jurisdiction. Phthalates are a broad family of chemicals primarily used to make vinyl soft and flexible and are found in thousands of products including toys, garden hoses, wiring and cables, construction materials, flooring, automotive interiors and medical devices.

Felcher's report identifies many similarities between the issues raised by phthalates and nanomaterials: many of the same products that contain phthalates are now being made with nanomaterials (e.g., infants' pacifiers and teething rings); both phthalates and nanomaterials can enter the human body through multiple pathways, such as the lungs or digestive tract; and jurisdiction over phthalates in the United States, like jurisdiction over nanomaterials, is spread over multiple agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food & Drug Administration.

But despite these similarities, phthalates and nanomaterials differ in two important respects, Felcher says. First, p
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Contact: Julia Moore
julia.moore@wilsoncenter.org
202-691-4025
Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
Source:Eurekalert

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