Researchers have shown nanotechnology has applications in drug delivery, as well as an array of other fields, but the technology’s rise has led to concerns about its impact on humans and the environment.
To address these issues US Senators Mark Pryor and Benjamin Cardin have introduced the Nanotechnology Safety Act of 2010. This would amend the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to establish a nanotechnology programme at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
If approved, the programme would assess the health and safety implications of nanotechnology in everyday products and develop best practices for companies using the technology. To support this programme the legislation authorises funding of $25m (€17.6m) a year from 2011 to 2015.
The FDA would use this funding to perform nanotechnology toxicology studies, develop analytical tools to quantify nanomaterials in complex matrices and create procedures for characterising the technology in regulated products.
Pryor believes the National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) in Jefferson, Arkansas, US and the FDA headquarters in White Oak, Maryland already have the infrastructure to perform the work.
He described the NCTR “as an ideal candidate for leading our nation’s nanotechnology health and safety studies”, adding that “the high-tech infrastructure” at White Oak is also important.
The FDA has already created a Nanotechnology Core Facility in Jefferson and is devoting some resources to understanding the technology. However, Pryor believes ring-fencing funds for the research and giving the FDA the necessary authority is required.
Pryor introduced the bill last week and it has now been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.