EU Science Hub

Review of available methods for assessing chemical safety promotes alternatives to animal testing

Staining platform deck with '96' head
Sep 24 2014

In support of EU legislation on safety of chemicals, the JRC has published a state-of-the art review of test methods and non-testing (computational) approaches that help promote the replacement, reduction, and refinement of animal experiments - known as the 3Rs - in the safety assessment of chemicals.  The report "Alternative methods for regulatory toxicology – a state-of-the-art review" focuses on "non-standard" methods, i.e. those that are not included in current regulatory guidelines.

It provides a valuable resource for companies that produce or market chemicals and consumer products as well as for regulatory bodies and non-governmental organisations interested in the use of non-standard methods for enhanced safety testing.

The report reviews the current scientific status of alternatives to animal experiments, such as in vitro test methods and computational models, for a range of human health and ecotoxicological endpoints. It describes their availability and applicability based on knowledge of the underlying mechanisms of toxicological actions. The endpoints covered for the assessment of potential human health effects range from skin and eye irritation to mutagenicity and carcinogenicity. In relation to ecotoxicology, the report centres on methods for acute and chronic fish toxicity.

While specific reference is made to the information needs of the European chemicals legislation REACH, the Biocidal Products Regulation and the Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulation, this report also informs about the possible use of alternative and non-standard methods in other sectors, such as cosmetics and plant protection products.

The review was completed by JRC's European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM) within a collaboration agreement with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

It complements a recent JRC report that describes the state of play on the development, validation and regulatory acceptance of alternative methods/approaches.