The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International and the Humane Society Legislative Fund praise the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for issuing its draft policy that encourages the use of non-animal testing methods. The policy’s recommendations apply to methods used in assessing the potential of pesticides and industrial chemicals to cause skin allergies.

In the EPA’s official statement on the draft policy, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt stated, “This draft policy is another step toward achieving EPA's goal of reducing the use of animals and increasing the use of cutting-edge science in chemical testing.”

Traditional animal tests for skin allergies involve the application of a test chemical to the skin of guinea pigs or mice, who are later killed and examined for signs of an allergic response. However, recent studies have shown that non-animal methods are more accurate than traditional animal tests in predicting allergic skin reactions in humans.

“We commend the EPA for taking this important step toward eliminating the use of animals by adopting more human-relevant methods of testing,” said Catherine Willett, director of regulatory toxicology, risk assessment and alternatives for The HSUS and HSI. “We urge the agency to move quickly to extend the scope and replace all animal use for skin allergy testing.”

The draft interim policy, titled Use of Alternative Approaches for Skin Sensitization as a Replacement for Laboratory Animal Testing supports the use of non-animal methods for single chemical substances, such as pesticide active ingredients, but not mixtures or formulations. However, the EPA is currently working to extend the policy to formulations.

Facts

  • EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs is working to reduce its reliance on animal testing for acute toxicity, an effort outlined in a letter to stakeholders in 2016, when it also released guidance to eliminate the need for lethal-dose skin tests for pesticide ingredients.
  • Also in 2016, HSLF and The HSUS campaigned for the passage of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which revised the Toxic Substances Control Act. TSCA covers industrial chemicals and requires the minimization of animal testing with a clear preference for the development and use of alternative methods and strategies.
  • HSUS and HSI have been working to support the science to replace animal testing for skin allergy and other health concerns on a number of national and international fronts, including the test guidelines program of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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