EPA Releases Guidance to Help Reduce Unnecessary Use of Animals in Chemical Testing

In September of last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a directive aimed at decreasing the use of animal testing and prioritizing efforts to achieve this goal. In the past month, the Agency made additional progress in this regard by releasing new guidance information with a focus on decreasing testing in fish. In this blog post, we review the release of this important information and discuss its significance.

Animal Testing

Animal testing is the use of animal (non-human) subjects in research to determine how the manipulation of certain variables affects them. The purpose of animal testing may vary depending on the experimental or research situation. Some of the more common examples have included cosmetics testing, evaluating disease treatments, and researching the toxicological effects of chemical substances. Despite its use, the employing of animal models for chemical testing can be costly, time consuming, and fraught with ethical implications.

About the Guidance

The EPA requires bioconcentration factor (BCF) studies to establish the likelihood of active ingredients in pesticides accumulating in fish and, in turn, the animals that consume them. In the guidance "Fish Bioconcentration Data Requirement: Guidance for Selection of Number of Treatment Concentrations", the number of treatment concentrations required for acceptable fish BCF studies for the registration of pesticides is explained.

The guidance also stipulates that when sufficient data exists to support an outdoor pesticide registration decision, it may be permissible to omit animal testing. The EPA estimates that an annual savings of at least 240 animals is expected to result from this.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, who originally initiated the directive, recently commented on the importance of this, noting “This guidance will help EPA take great strides toward our goal of reducing animal testing”. He further noted “It’s another example of how we can continue to protect human health and the environment and make science-based decisions about pesticide registrations without having to harm animals by testing”.

Accessing Vital Information

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