Friday, March 4, 2011

Eight Scientific Organizations Offer Expertise to Solve New Chemical Testing Questions

The testing of chemicals for health and safety has been a big issue for a long time, but recently there has been heightened awareness of the problem.  The potential of Congressional action to reform the nation's chemical control law and comments being offered from all quarters on the sufficiency, or lack of sufficiency, of chemical testing has helped show some of the shortcomings in our assessment process.  Now eight scientific societies have offered the expertise of their 40,000 research scientists and clinicians. 

In a letter published in the prestigious scientific journal "Science," the societies note that "the need for swifter and sounder testing and review procedures cannot be overstated." They warn that "recent scientific evidence has established direct links between exposures that occur during fetal development and adult disease."  The point out that biomonitoring data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "have established that most, if not virtually all Americans, are exposed to contaminants in the environment that cause serious health effects in animal models."

One important point made by these societies, which are generally medical, genetic, reproductive health type societies instead of the traditional toxicology societies, is that there is a need to develop and validate "improved testing guidelines and better methods of assessing risks." These new methods could move away from animal models and include non-animal markers such as endocrine function, genomic fingerprinting, and other less invasive and perhaps faster and more sensitive types of studies that could be used to more rapidly identify chemicals for more in-depth study.

And so they are offering their help.  Addressing their letter mainly to the FDA and EPA:
"We ask that you use our scientific boards to provide access to leading scientists in diverse fields. These experts can help ensure that the most up-to-date scientific methodology and scientific understanding are used when devising and refining regulatory guidelines, and when reviewing scientific data pertinent to risk assessment and risk management decisions."

The letter is in the most recent issue of Science.  The eight scientific societies are (click on the name for more information about each):

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