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It's time for EPA to End Pesticide Cruelty

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires pesticide manufacturers to assess the safety of their products—such as insecticides and weed killers—by testing the ingredients on animals. The six most common short-term tests are known as the "6-pack."

There are approximately 500 formulations tested by pesticide manufacturers each year, resulting in thousands of rabbits, rats, mice, and guinea pigs suffering and dying in these tests in the U.S. alone. Fortunately, there are alternatives available for some of these tests that can provide this information, often more effectively, using fewer, or in some cases, no animals.

Below, learn what the animals who are used in these tests endure, what alternatives are available, and what we are asking EPA to do to reduce animal use. Then, join our e-mail list and join the conversation on Facebook to learn about steps you can take to help #EndPesticideCruelty! For more about the tests and alternatives, see a list on AltTox.org.




Oral Toxicity
Rats are force-fed test substances to determine the dose required to kill 50% of the animals. They may experience diarrhea, convulsions, bleeding from the mouth, seizures, or paralysis. EPA allows pesticide manufacturers to use methods that use fewer animals, but we're calling on EPA to allow the use of available cell-based tests to identify non-toxic chemicals.
Dermal Toxicity

The test substance is applied to the shaved skin of rats, guinea pigs, or rabbits to measure the amount needed to kill 50% of the animals. They may experience diarrhea, convulsions, seizures, or paralysis. Studies of hundreds of pesticide products show that oral exposure is more deadly to animals than dermal exposure; therefore, we’re calling on EPA to allow the use of data from oral toxicity tests to predict dermal toxicity rather than performing additional dermal tests.
Inhalation Toxicity

Rats are placed into a tube and forced to inhale the test substance to determine the amount needed to kill 50% of the animals. They may experience bleeding of the nose, convulsions, paralysis, seizures, and/or death. There are no available alternatives at the moment; further investment in and development of non-animal methods is necessary. We are asking EPA to encourage the use of tests that use fewer animals and participate in the development of cell-based alternatives.
Acute Eye Irritation
Rabbits are immobilized by their necks in restraints and the test substance is applied to their eyes. Their eyes may show signs of redness, bleeding, ulcers, blindness, and/or other signs of damage. Several non-animal methods are available including some that use corneas developed from human cells. EPA allows the use of these alternatives for some types of pesticides. We're calling on EPA to allow use of these non-animal methods for all pesticides.
Dermal Irritation
The test substance is placed on the shaved skin of rabbits and observed for signs of redness, rash, lesions, scaling, or inflammation. Methods using reconstructed human epidermis are available to replace animal tests. EPA allows the use of these methods on a case-by-case basis. We're calling on EPA to adopt internationally-accepted classification standards that would allow the use of these methods for all pesticide registrations.
Skin Sensitization
A test substance is placed on the surface of the skin or injected under the skin of guinea pigs or applied to the ears of mice to observe if the compound will induce an allergic response, including redness, ulcers, scaling, inflammation, and itchiness. Several non-animal methods are available for estimating sensitizing potential. Efforts are underway to gain regulatory acceptance for testing strategies that can fully replace animals. EPA allows the use of alternatives on a case-by-case basis, but typically still requires animal tests. We're asking EPA to participate in ongoing international efforts to develop and adapt non-animal approaches.

EPA recently released draft guidance on bridging oral to dermal acute toxicity. Read the draft and comments from HSUS »

For more information about tests to limit or eliminate the use of animals, visit AltTox.

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