Animal Testing Continues in EPA’s High Production Volume Program
By Chad Sandusky, Ph.D.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) High Production Volume (HPV) program continues to result in unnecessary animal tests being proposed and, in many cases, going forward.
The program calls on chemical manufacturers to test products produced or imported in quantities of at least one million pounds per year. In recent months, PCRM has identified numerous instances in which manufacturers were again proposing toxicity studies in animals. In some cases the companies have ignored existing data on closely related chemicals and proposed acute lethal studies (LD50) or repeat-dose studies, in which animals are exposed to toxins for weeks or months. These tests violate the EPA’s own recommendation that chemical companies avoid animal studies when information on the toxicity of closely related compounds already exists.
By the end of 2002, more than 200 animal tests were conducted under the HPV program and calculations based on OECD Guidelines for Testing of Chemicals indicates that more than 85,000 animals have already been killed or are slated to die in the program. This is a clear demonstration that, despite claims by the EPA that few animal tests are being conducted in the program, very large numbers of animals are being subjected to cruel tests. And, since the later stages of the HPV program will include more chemicals with spotty testing histories, the number of tests and animals who will be destroyed as the program continues can be expected to climb dramatically.
By carefully reviewing these plans, meeting with EPA administrators, and working with the sponsoring companies, PCRM has been able to eliminate several of the most egregious tests. For example, several studies to test dermal toxicity and eye and skin irritation were dropped from the HPV program altogether. PCRM was also able to document that inhalation studies had been proposed at levels of gases which were so high that they could be explosive—clearly a needless and cruel use of animals.
Without constant supervision, companies will continue to propose new animal tests even when data are already available to address EPA concerns. The result will be more animals being used in toxicity studies and alternate nonanimal tests would not be used as often as they should.
The fact is, data from HPV animal tests do not reduce risk to humans. PCRM, along with other organizations concerned with the HPV program, will continue to monitor future test plans closely and work to reduce the use of animal experiments under HPV to the fullest possible extent.