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SCOTT JAGOW: And now a story that gives new meaning to the phrase 'it's a small world after all.' Cosmetic companies have started putting ultra-tiny particles in their face creams and eye shadows and sunscreens. The companies claim these particles make their products better, but some people believe this new technology needs at least a tiny bit of regulation. From the Innovations Desk at North Carolina Public Radio, Janet Babin reports.

JANET BABIN: Thousands of items on store shelves now contain submicroscopic particles called nanomaterials.

They're often less than a quarter the width of a human hair.

This new technology can make products better, but Professor Mike Taylor with the University of Maryland questions whether the government really knows how safe they are.

He told a U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel that the FDA lacks the tools it needs to regulate this industry

MIKE TAYLOR: "FDA is simply not in a position to know the exact composition of these products and whether in fact they've been adequately tested and had their safety substantiated."

Taylor says the FDA needs to complete additional research and test these products, but business groups told the FDA panel that the current regulatory process is adequate.

I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.