Nanotechnology Project

Events

Join “Consumers Talk Nano”

Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies and Consumers Union Collaborate on “Consumers Talk Nano”. Important conversation with the public about nanotechnology.

WASHINGTON—What are the possible risks and benefits of nanotechnology and consumer products? In an effort to reach out to the American public and engage them in an important online conversation about the issue, the Project is collaborating with Consumers Union – publishers of Consumer Reports magazine and Consumer Reports Online.

This exciting online event, ConsumersTalkNano, will take place over two days, October 23-24, 2007. Any interested member of the public will be able to communicate online with panelists from the Project, Consumers Union, and others. Details about the public dialogue, nanotechnology, nano-enabled consumer products, and related safety questions are available at www.nanotechproject.org. To register to participate in ConsumersTalkNano and to see the agenda, go to: http://www.webdialogues.net/pen/consumer.

Panelists

Day 1:

  • Carolyn Cairns, Program Leader, Product Safety, Consumers Union, Consumer Reports Magazine
  • Kristen Kulinowski, Director, International Council on Nanotechnology, Rice University
  • Andrew Maynard, Chief Science Advisor, Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
  • Evan Michelson, Research Associate, Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies

Day 2:

  • J. Clarence Davies, Senior Advisor, Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies and Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future
  • Michael Hansen, Senior Staff Scientist, Consumers Union
  • Stacey Harper, Research Associate, Oregon State University
  • Tim Mealey, Senior Partner, Meridian Institute
  • David Rejeski, Director, Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
  • Sally Tinkle, Ph.D, Assistant to the Deputy Director, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

“Nanotechnology is not a sci-fi fantasy,” according to Carolyn Cairns from Consumers Union. “Many consumers are not aware that nanoscale materials are in some sunscreens, house paints, clothing, and computers being sold in stores around the country.” This online dialogue aims to increase people’s understanding of a technology that on the one hand promises amazing advances in medicine, alternative energy, and other sectors, but on the other hand, raises the possibility of new health and environmental hazards. Individuals participating in ConsumersTalkNano will have an opportunity to discuss with legal, scientific and consumer product panelists nanotechnology’s potential impact on products, and ideas and concerns relating to health and safety, labeling, and government and industry standards.”

“Our polling and focus groups show that Americans know little or nothing about nanotechnology but want to know more. Consumer products—like the Apple iPhone and L’Oreal RevitalLift face cream—often are the public’s first introduction to nanotechnology. Public confidence in this new technology depends on responsible development that includes full assessment and communication of potential risks as well as benefits,” said Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies Director David Rejeski.

A program like ConsumersTalkNano is long overdue. Since fiscal year 2001, the U.S. has invested over $8 billion in nanotechnology research. In 2006 alone, over $12 billion was spent worldwide on nanotechnology research and development by governments and industry. But little has been devoted to researching safety and other impacts on consumers. “Outreach efforts like ConsumersTalkNano can help fill the ‘nano knowledge gap,’” said Rejeski.

Last year, nanotechnology was incorporated into more than $50 billion in manufactured goods. An online list of more than 500 company-identified nanotechnology consumer products—on the market in shopping malls or over the Internet—is available at http://www.nanotechproject.org/consumerproducts. The list includes merchandise from such well-known brands as Samsung, Chanel, Black & Decker, Wilson and Eddie Bauer. It can be searched by company, product name, category, or country.

Up to October 23, the Consumers TalkNano website (http://www.webdialogues.net/pen/consumer) will be updated regularly with videos, podcasts, and links to information about nanotechnology. The dialogue is free but participants are asked to register.