The US Environmental Protection Agency plans to revamp its Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP), a 25-year-old effort to screen chemicals for their ability to disrupt estrogen, androgen, and thyroid hormonal systems. In a draft white paper released Jan. 19, the EPA says certain nonanimal methods can be used as alternatives to vertebrate animal screening tests.
The EPA estimates that it costs industry about $1 million per chemical and takes up to 6 years to conduct the current battery of assays in the first tier of the EDSP. Six of the assays involve the use of animals.
The agency has so far ordered first-tier testing for a small fraction of the thousands of chemicals subject to the EDSP. It issued the first set of screening orders for 67 pesticides in 2009, and 4 years later it finalized a second set of 109 chemicals.
Lawyers who work closely with the chemical industry welcome the EPA’s new screening approach. In commentary published Jan. 25, the law firm Bergeson & Campbell says it anticipates that the agency’s adoption of nonanimal methods will also inform its evaluation of chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Many of the first few dozen chemicals the EPA is evaluating under TSCA are also subject to first-tier screening under the EDSP.
The EPA is accepting comments on the draft paper until March 20.