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  1. News Release

  2. Sep 10, 2019

Physicians, Animal Protection Groups Commend Passage of Bill To Modernize Hazardous Waste Testing With Alternatives to Live Fish

AB 733 directs Department of Toxic Substance Control to implement modern methods

SACRAMENTO—The California Senate has shown unanimous support for Assembly Bill 733, authored by Assemblymember Bill Quirk. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Social Compassion in Legislation are co-sponsoring the bill, which could save tens of thousands of fish every year.

Currently, the State of California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) requires waste generators and consumer product retailers to use live fish in a toxicity test to classify hazardous waste. Between 10 and 40 live fish are introduced into tanks containing the waste or product being tested. If 10 percent of the animals die within 96 hours, the waste is labeled hazardous. Fish species used include fathead minnows, rainbow trout, and golden shiners. The properties of some testing materials can lead to false positive results, causing California to dispose of waste that may not actually be hazardous, taking resources away from efforts to manage true hazardous waste.

AB 733, once signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, will amend the California’s Health and Safety code, authorizing DTSC to update the criteria and guidelines for the classification of hazardous waste after conducting evaluations of two alternative tests.

“The cruel and antiquated live vertebrate fish test essentially chokes fish to death in toxic waste,” says Judie Mancuso, Founder and CEO of Social Compassion in Legislation, co-sponsor of the legislation. “It’s heartening to see California’s legislators recognize the need to do away with this practice, one that is out of sync with scientific consensus.”

Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) said the following regarding his bill upon approval by the Senate, “Current law requires our state to engage in a practice that no ethical or modern brand in the private sector would ever consider using. I want to thank my colleagues in the Senate for moving this bill—and our state—forward.”

“This outdated test doesn’t come close to the modern, humane hazardous waste classification tests available today. California can protect its beautiful waterways better without it. I look forward to Governor Newsom signing this bill into law,” says Kristie Sullivan, MPH, vice president of research policy for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Media Contact

Reina Pohl, MPH



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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