Interesting news: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ToxCast chemical screening program has awarded contracts to four United States-based companies to test up to 10,000 chemicals for potential toxicity to people and the environment. ToxCast is designed to determine how chemical exposures affect human health.
The idea behind ToxCast is that it will be able to screen thousands of chemicals in fast, cost-effective tests. A key goal of the initiative is to reduce EPA’s reliance on slow and expensive animal toxicity tests, enabling the agency to screen chemicals more quickly and “to predict and identify potential risks to Americans.” Frankly testing mice and bunnies does seem, besides distasteful, a bit archaic.
The companies are:
All four companies will likely hire new employees as a result of these contracts, and it’s good that EPA considered this in the selection. The companies have offices across the U.S., including smaller markets such as Michigan. Two of the companies — Vala Sciences and BioReliance — are small businesses.
The four companies will initially screen up to 1,000 chemicals currently in the ToxCast program using innovative technologies such as stem cell toxicity tests. These new technologies can quickly determine the potential for a chemical to cause harm to the human body. Screening results from the new technologies will be combined with data already being generated by the other 500 rapid chemical tests used by EPA’s ToxCast program.
The chemicals ToxCast is now screening are found in industrial and consumer products, food additives and drugs.
EPA scientific studies using ToxCast have already been published in peer-reviewed science journals, and demonstrate the ability of ToxCast to predict a chemical’s potential to cause several diseases.
For more information on ToxCast database: http://actor.epa.gov/actor/faces/ToxCastDB/Home.jsp
Image credit: Jack Dykinga – USFWS/public domain