Wilson Center applauds UK's stance on nanotechnology

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Wilson center Nanotechnology

The US-based Wilson Center has applauded the UK government's
Council for Science and Technology (CST) over its criticism on the
slow progress being made for focused research into the hazards
associated with nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology has been heralded as a potentially major breakthrough for personal care formulators and is already included in a number of personal care formulations, specifically sun care and anti-aging treatments. It has proved to be particularly effective as a delivery vehicle for active ingredients in skin care products, with smaler particles being able to penetrate the skin's dermal layers more effectively. The Wilson Center said that comments contained in a new review by the CST aimed at highlighting the hazards had done much to draw attention to the problem on an international basis. "The UK government deserves a lot of credit for commissioning both the ground-breaking 2004 Royal Society report and for submitting itself to a tough review of its performance since then, said Project on Emerging Technologies chief scientist Andrew Maynard. The project is an initiative formed by the Wilson Center dedicated to anticipating and managing possible health and environmental implications of nanotechnology. On the back of the UK recommendations, Maynard proposes that the US federal government invest a minimum of $100m over the next two years in targeted science-based research to investigate the safety of nanotechnology in a range of applications. Putting current research budgets into context, Maynard estimates that more than $1bn is spent annually on the development of nanotechnology, whereas spending on nanotech risk research by the US government is estimated to $11m in 2005. Already the Wilson Center has a database consisting of over 300 manufacturer-identified nanotechnology-based consumer products, a significant percentage of which are cosmetic products. Although nanotechnology is used on a wide range of consumer products - including paints, clothing and packaging - when it comes to cosmetics the fact that such products come into close contact with the body suggests that an even greater level of research is necessary to ensure safety. On the one side of the safety issue, scientists and industry cite the fact that nano particles have existed in countless compounds since the beginning of time, indicating that our exposure to man-made nano particles is nothing out of the ordinary. But there is another opinion that takes quite a different view, believing that more comprehensive research needs to be undertaken to fully determine risk-factors, including chemical instability. Some scientists say they have misgivings over potential chemical instability of nano manipulated particles, particularly when combined with other compounds, as is the case with cosmetic formulations.

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