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NIH Record

Panel Endorses Non-Animal Test of Chemicals

It's a first in the effort to reduce use of animals in testing: A scientific panel sponsored by NIH, NIEHS, the National Toxicology Program and major regulatory agencies on June 22 endorsed the use of a non-animal test to replace, in many cases, the use of animals to determine if a new 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 review was conducted by an independent panel of the new interagency coordinating committee on validation of alternative methods, which is sponsored by key research and regulatory agencies.

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. Dr. William Stokes, NIEHS 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 2,000 chemicals introduced each year, this could result in a considerable reduction in the use of laboratory animals to identify corrosives."

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.

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