The CPSC is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure vulnerable poulations like children and the elderly. The CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals - contributed significantly to the 30% decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.
As more consumer products employ nanotechnology, concerns are increasing regarding potential health effects associated with human exposure to this technology. There is a growing use of compounds or materials that have been produced using nanotechnologies that directly manipulate matter at the atomic level and fabrication of materials that could not have been produced in the past. Although these nanomaterials may have the same chemical composition as non-nanomaterials, at the nanoscale they may demonstrate different physical and chemical properties, and behave differently in the environment and the human body. Members of the U.S. Congress have stated that they recognize nanotechnology as a new technology utilized in the manufacture of consumer products, and that they expect the Commission to review the utilization and safety of its application in consumer products consistent with the Commission’s mission. In support of that mission, CPSC requested additional funding in 2011 to collect data on nanomaterials use in consumer products. Since then, the CPSC budget has grown substantially to support EHS R&D and related projects.
The CPSC formally joined the NNI budget crosscut for the first time in 2011. Planned programs include working with other agencies on (1) developing protocols to assess the potential release of airborne nanoparticles from various consumer products and to determine their contributions to human exposure; (2) determining whether nanomaterials can be used for performance improvement in sports safety equipment such as helmets and kneepads without creating other health hazards; (3) expanding consumer product testing using scientifically credible protocols to evaluate the exposure potential from nanosilver in consumer products, with special emphasis on exposures to young children; and (4) working across agencies to assure that shared common public health concerns are met in research studies to determine potential impacts on the public health of nanomaterial use in consumer products.