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  1. News Release

  2. Apr 11, 2018

EPA’s New Policy Will Reduce Animal Testing for Skin Sensitization

Statement by Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H., Physicians Committee Vice President of Research Policy

Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it has begun accepting nonanimal methods for detecting the skin sensitization—or allergenic—potential of chemicals and pesticides. Many chemicals that go into the production of products we use every day, from bug sprays to cleaning products to industrial solvents, are required to be tested on mice or, less often, guinea pigs, in tests that cause the animals to develop painful, red, irritating reactions. The animals are then killed. 

Scientists have developed several advanced in vitro methods that use human cells or a chemical reaction to detect a chemical’s potential to cause this reaction. These methods are more accurate than the animal tests, and so are more protective of workers, consumers, and others who come into contact with chemicals. 

As explained in the Interim Science Policy: Use of Alternative Approaches for Skin Sensitization as a Replacement for Laboratory Animal Testing, companies can use a combination of between one and three of these in vitro tests, in a sequential testing strategy, to assess most chemicals regulated by the Office of Pesticide Programs and the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics immediately. The methods are not yet accepted for some chemical mixtures but testing is currently ongoing and expected to be completed shortly.

The Physicians Committee has been working closely with regulators and pesticide companies to facilitate the adoption of these tests for several years and heartily welcomes the EPA’s announcement. We encourage companies to immediately begin using them in place of animals. Yesterday’s decision will ensure better protection of the public and save hundreds of animals every single year. 

Animal Testing Alternatives Accepted by New EPA Policy

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it has begun accepting alternatives to animal testing for detecting the skin sensitization—or allergenic—potential of chemicals and pesticides. Learn more from the Physicians Committee's Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.

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