EPA Changing the Way it Tests Chemical Toxicity

by | Mar 26, 2009

chemical-beakers2In a move that could affect how companies approach new product development and risk management, the Environmental Protection Agency has new scientific methods to assess the toxicity of chemicals. The advanced methods also could reduce companies’ testing costs.

On March 25, the EPA released the “U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Strategic Plan for Evaluating the Toxicity of Chemicals.

Using recent advances in molecular biology, genomics, and computational sciences, the new toxicity testing methods will allow the EPA to screen thousands of environmental chemicals quickly for potentially harmful effects.

Additionally, EPA will examine children’s reaction versus that of adults, leading to improved health protection for children, according to a press release.

With the new technologies, EPA is moving away from animal-based tests.

EPA found itself needing to test of tens of thousands of chemicals for a wide range of applications, and it was unable to fully explore testing using traditional animal-based methods, according to EPA’s new strategic document.

Using newer, quicker testing methods, the agency says it will be able to direct its efforts to chemicals with the greatest potential for risk. EPA expects the equipment for employing the new methods to add great costs to its budget during the adoption stage.

The transition in toxicity testing and related changes to risk assessment will not come overnight, EPA says, noting that it might take 10-20 years to reach its goal.

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