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European Chemicals Agency reports progress on reducing animal tests

by Britt E. Erickson
June 4, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 18


In vitro tests and other nonanimal methods are on the rise for ensuring the safety of chemicals in the European Union, according to a report from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). The report finds that read-across is the most common nonanimal method for assessing chemical risks under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation. Read-across uses data from chemicals with known toxicity to assess the safety of other chemicals with similar properties. The report also finds a notable increase since 2019 in the use of in vitro test methods that involve human cells, tissues, or organs. Under REACH, in vitro tests are used primarily to obtain data on skin and eye irritation and skin sensitization. Other nonanimal methods include waiving the need for certain toxicity data and using computational models to predict toxicity based on chemical structures. Testing chemicals on vertebrate animals is permitted under REACH only when no alternatives are available. “We are cooperating with the European Commission, and other partners, to support the development of policies that accelerate the pace for transition towards full replacement of animal testing,” Ofelia Bercaru, director of prioritization at ECHA, says in a statement.


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