Nonanimal Chemical Testing for a Safer Environment
PCRM scientists are urging lawmakers to revise chemical legislation to protect humans and animals, and PCRM members can help.
Congress is considering revisions to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the law that regulates industrial chemicals. The new framework could call for thousands of chemicals to be tested on animals.
PCRM scientists are meeting with Members of Congress to explain the scientific, practical, and ethical problems with continuing to rely on animal-based toxicity tests.
“The best way for Congress to create a safer chemical market is to encourage a move to modern testing methods,” says PCRM toxicologist Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H. “Animal-based testing methods are not just cruel; they are too slow to efficiently assess the huge number of chemicals that need to be tested. The TSCA revision must encourage strategies that avoid animal tests.”
The existing TSCA inventory contains between 30,000 and 80,000 chemicals, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Testing all of these for even one kind of toxicity—such as reproductive toxicity—in animals could take more than a century.
Sullivan recently submitted testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and its Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics, and Environmental Health. In her testimony, she recommended that TSCA revisions incorporate recommendations made by the National Research Council’s Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy. The report, which the EPA commissioned, calls for the development of human-based in vitro cell and tissue tests instead of animal tests for chemical assessment.
Urging REACH Administrators to Reach Out
PCRM toxicologist Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H., traveled to Helsinki, Finland, in February to hold joint talks with the European Chemicals Agency on how to reduce the use of animals in toxicity tests.
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) was set up to administer the 2006 European REACH legislation, which requires the registration and testing of industrial and consumer chemicals and prohibits animal testing if other methods are available. PCRM has been working through its role as Secretariat of the International Council for Animal Protection at OECD (ICAPO) to ensure nonanimal test methods are accepted for generating information required under REACH.
This visit was a chance to urge ECHA officials to reach out to American companies, who must also register their chemicals to market them in Europe, and American lawmakers to share their progress and expertise in reducing animal testing. PCRM hopes Congress will apply these lessons directly as lawmakers consider revisions to the Toxic Substances Control Act.