We are doing science for policy
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
The United Nations (UN) subcommittee on the Transport of Dangerous Goods has decided to allow testing on engineered skin rather than on animals to identify correct packing requirements for corrosive chemicals. The proposal was made by the JRC on behalf of the European Union.
Corrosives are chemicals that cause irreversible damage to skin. They can also destroy goods to which they come in contact or even the means that transports them.
The most severely corrosive chemicals can only be transported in very limited quantities and when the packaging rules set by the UN Model Regulations are respected.
Animal testing has typically been required to distinguish between the potency of corrosive chemicals, to ensure safety of people, property and the environment while transporting goods worldwide.
The JRC has been involved for many years in the development, validation and regulatory acceptance of in vitro methods, such as the use of engineered skin models, allowing classification of corrosives while avoiding painful animal testing.
The UN decision
Based on a JRC proposal presented on the behalf of the European Union, the UN subcommittee on the Transport of Dangerous Goods agreed in December 2018 to include non-animal testing in the criteria for classification of corrosives in the 21st revision of the UN Model Regulations.
In the EU, as in the vast majority of countries worldwide, the text will be directly transposed into national legislation. This is because worldwide transport must follow the same rules to facilitate international trade and guarantee agreed levels of safety as goods pass national borders.
Decrease in animal use without decrease in safety
The revision of the classification of corrosives in the UN Model Regulations opens the door for replacement of animal testing with more reliable in vitro methods, safe-guarding transport by road, rail, sea and air.