EPA Induces ToxCast Labor, Hires 4 Companies

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

EPA’s ToxCast Screens 1,000 Chemicals for Toxicity

Earlier this week, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that its ToxCast screening program has screened 1000 chemicals, helping determine the way in which exposure to chemicals effect human health. The EPA plans to use the cost-effective tests to screen thousands of chemicals.

The first phase of testing included approximately 300 chemicals, using over 500 automated tests or assays. The assays used human and animal cells and proteins to screen chemicals. The results were compared to animal studies from EPA’s databases, helping to determine which ToxCast assays can predict a chemical’s toxicity and disease-causing potential.

The second phase of testing currently includes 700 chemicals, consisting of consumer and industrial products, food additives, and drugs that failed to make it to market. The drugs and human clinical trial data were donated by pharmaceutical companies, and enable the EPA to compare the ToxCast screening results with actual human clinical data.

ToxCast “allows us to start predicting potential toxicity to human health and the environment instead of just describing the toxic effects that occur after chemical exposure,” said Dr. Paul Anastas (pictured), assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

ToxCast contributes to Tox 21 — a federal agency collaboration consisting of EPA, US Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health — which plans to screen 10,000 chemicals by the end of next year.  ToxRefDB is the database where information and testing results on chemicals is stored.

For more on chemical legislation at the state level, see http://circuitsassembly.com/blog/?p=1416.