Like many in the nanotech industry, CEO Craig Bandes' Baltimore-based nanocrystal additive manufacturing company, Pixelligent Technologies, has enjoyed a record year for growth.

"Things are moving quickly in the nanotechnology world," he says. "Large manufacturers are all looking for next-generation solutions to help evolve their technologies. Companies like ours can help them do it."

However, as the nanotechnology market expands, so too does the scrutiny it is receiving about the potential health and safety risks it presents. 

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Though no conclusive evidence has yet been found linking nanomaterials to specific health risks, this scrutiny -- and the attendant buzz from a public anxious for results -- has prompted the EPA to invest millions in research over the last few years to determine the exact nature of the risk and what regulations should follow. 

To some, this scenario is a little too reminiscent of the early days of asbestos -- a scenario no one, no matter how promising the technology, wants to repeat.

This, Bandes fears, might be enough to derail the progress nanotechnology has made. "The U.S. has a great opportunity here with the potential revenue dollars that will come from nano-enabled products," he says. "If regulators overreact because they are being underinformed about what the risks are and what they aren't, other countries will take advantage of that and it will force companies that would otherwise be here creating technology and high-paying manufacturing jobs to go someplace else."

That, however, is something that Lou Gritzo, head of research at FM Global is determined to prevent.