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Keeping Animals and People Safe from Harmful Chemicals

Later this year, Congress will consider a sweeping revision to the Toxic Substances Control Act, the law that regulates industrial chemicals. This will be the first major revision in the law’s 33-year history. PCRM scientists are working to make sure the revision benefits both people and animals, and PCRM members can aid the reform effort.

For the last several decades, scientists have conducted tests on animals in laboratories to obtain information on the potential hazards of chemicals to humans and the environment. However, recent advances in technology, coupled with a growing recognition of the failure of animal tests to predict human risks, have led experts to recommend a shift in toxicity testing toward modern, human-relevant methods.

The National Research Councilís recommendations for new toxicity testing methods appeared in 2007. The National Research Council’s 2007 report, Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century, addressed the failures of animal-based safety testing and recommended cellular-based methods, which provide more relevant information and are cheaper, faster, and easier to use. These methods can assess a broader range of potential hazards, and are even applicable to mixtures and very low doses of chemicals.

While the push to modernize chemical regulations is an opportunity to incorporate new nonanimal testing approaches, it could also mean requirements for more animal tests. In fact, some groups are calling for tests that could require the use of hundreds of thousands of animals. PCRM is meeting with congressional staffers and environmental groups to prevent this from happening. The House of Representatives held the first hearing on the revision in February, and PCRM experts submitted written testimony.

You can help. To sign up for e-mail updates, please visit If you are willing to meet with your congressional representatives in their local offices, please e-mail

NRC (Committee on Toxicity Testing and Assessment of Environmental Agents, National Research Council). 2007. Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy. National Academies Press, Washington, DC. Available at: Accessed 25 January 2009.


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