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February 2nd, 2010
Is It “Nano” Cream? Or Isn’t It?
The luxury makeup company Chantecaille hawks1.7 ounce pots of high-tech sounding "Nano Gold Energizing Cream" for $420. Other cosmetics companies avoid references to nanotechnology like a dead rat on the samples counter.
For cosmetics companies these days, nanotechnology can be a selling point or a radioactive taboo. But they're at liberty to say as much or as little as they want about their use of this science. If one U.S. senator has his way, regulators will be better equipped to determine whether that facial cream, sunscreen or foundation contains "nanoparticles" - and whether it presents a hazard to the public.
With lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic seeking transparency, the cosmetics industry, which relies heavily on nanotech, illustrates how this invisible science defies attempts at scrutiny and definition.
On Jan. 21 U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas sponsored a bill that would establish a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) program for assessing nanotechnology, allocating $125 million over five years. While nanotech contributes to many FDA regulated products, the agency has not developed its own formal definition of the term.
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