Science panel endorses new non-animal test to see if chemicals will burn, corrode skin and eyes

For the first time, a new federally sponsored panel of scientists has endorsed the use of a non-animal test to determine -- for safety and regulatory purposes, and for labeling -- whether a chemical is likely to burn or corrode human skin.

The new test can often replace a method in which a chemical or chemical mixture is placed on the intact skin of a laboratory animal.

The results of the review of the new non-animal test were announced today by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Toxicology Program and 13 other federal agencies that support the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods, an organization established in 1997. This ICCVAM-sponsored scientific review, provides a basis for decisions by the regulatory agencies about how the test will be used in their decision making.

The panel said the new method can fully replace the use of animals for testing corrosiveness and irritation in some cases, while in others, only a single animal is required to confirm a chemical's corrosiveness.

William Stokes, D.V.M., the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences' associate director for animal and alternative resources, said, "Current regulations usually require three animals for each chemical that is evaluated for skin corrosivity and dermal irritation. Since there are more than two thousand chemicals introduced each year, this could result in a considerable reduction in the use of laboratory animals to identify corrosives." Last year, Dr. Stokes was recognized by the Humane Society of the United States under its Russell and Burch Awards program for his leadership in advancing alternative methods of toxicity testing.

Skin corrosiveness testing is conducted to ensure that chemicals and products are properly labeled to alert consumers and workers to take precautions to prevent chemical burns to the skin and eyes.


Contact: John Peterson
NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

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