WASHINGTON—Senate and House bills introduced today to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act would require the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt crucial reforms that protect human health and the environment and develop more nonanimal chemical tests. But the bill does not give the EPA much-needed authority to require the use of these tests, experts for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine say.
Both bills overhaul the 34-year-old TSCA by tightening regulations on chemicals used to produce industrial and consumer goods, including toys and cleaning products. But, says PCRM toxicologist Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H., the bills do not go far enough to address a key safety issue: the limitations of animal-based toxicity tests now used to evaluate a chemical's potential risks to public health and the environment. The bills also need to provide financial and logistical support to implement the approach outlined in the National Research Council report, “Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy.” The NRC report endorsed tests based on human cells and cell components instead of animals.
The bills compel the EPA to develop more nonanimal methods and to adopt an integrated testing strategy approach. To ensure that the NRC report is fully implemented, companies should be required to use nonanimal tests as they become available.
“The application of animal-testing results to real-world human health issues can be extremely difficult,” Sullivan said. “Furthermore, using animal tests to evaluate every chemical on the market would be costly, inefficient, and virtually impossible given the huge number of chemicals involved. The best way to protect human health and the environment is to replace animal tests with more modern methods, and these bills are a good start at making that happen.”
Because evaluating every industrial chemical using animal tests could take decades, the bills’ provisions to streamline and modernize testing methods mean better protection for people and wildlife. “We hope that these important reforms remain intact as these bills move forward,” says Nancy Beck, Ph.D., PCRM scientific and policy adviser.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.