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Safety

REACH Aims To Limit Animal Tests

by Glenn Hess
September 21, 2009 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 87, ISSUE 38

The European Chemicals Agency has issued a clarification aimed at avoiding unnecessary animal testing and reducing costs to industry under the EU's Registration, Evaluation, Authorization & Restriction of Chemical substances (REACH) regulation. Animal welfare groups wrote to ECHA last month with concerns about the risk of companies conducting duplicative animal tests for some types of toxicity when registering their chemicals under REACH. The groups said there was a particular danger that companies would conduct "screening" tests for reproductive and general toxicity—which consume dozens to hundreds of animals per chemical—and would later be required to conduct more comprehensive tests for the same effects. In response, ECHA stated on Sept. 15 that animal tests need not be conducted if similar, more comprehensive tests are going to be proposed. Consequently, companies registering chemicals that are produced in quantities of 100 metric tons or more per year can fulfill the initial registration requirements without performing the screening tests if they are proposing to do more comprehensive tests later. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an activist group, says the clarification will help prevent duplicative testing and spare more than 4 million animals.

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