Friday, March 18, 2011

Korea Joins Effort to Reduce Animal Testing of Chemicals - Find Alternative Methods

Europe has one (ECVAM), the United States has one (ICCVAM), and now Korea has one (KoCVAM).  Last week the Republic of Korea (i.e., South Korea)'s Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods (KoCVAM) officially joined a collaborative effort to find alternative chemical test methods.  The international agreement, the International Cooperation on Alternative Test Methods (ICATM), "was officially created in April 2009, when an agreement was signed between validation bodies from Europe, USA, Canada and Japan." 

The goal of collaboration is to develop and validate chemical testing methods that reduce, or preferably eliminate, the need for live animals (i.e., in vivo methods).  The non-animal methods (in vitro) can include any number of tests ranging from excised tissues, artificially grown tissues or cells, and genetic methods, as well as computer generated structure activity relationship (SAR) modeling.  The formal addition of KoCVAM to the agreement, it's fifth member, occurred during the 50th annual meeting of the Society of Toxicology in Washington DC.

With REACH entering its next stage, which includes review of proposed testing plans from the first registration deadline, and new chemical control efforts in Korea, Turkey, Switzerland and (maybe) the United States, a great deal of effort is being made to find alternatives to traditional animal testing.  REACH specifically encourages the use of non-animal methods such as QSARs, in vitro, ex vivo, and read-across from data available for related chemicals. 

For more information.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

TSCA Oral History Project - From Inception to Reform (with Video)

The Chemical Heritage Foundation, a Philadelphia based policy center, has an ongoing program they call the TSCA Oral History Project.  Videos of two recent events are now on their web site.

The first video includes speakers from a November 19, 2010 seminar called "From Inception to Reform: Unpacking the History of the Toxic Substances Control Act through Archives and Oral Histories."  The main speakers were Jody Roberts and Jessica Schifano.

Of perhaps even greater interest was another public discussion held on March 3, 2011 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science headquarters in Washington, DC.  It featured some of the key players in the chemicals regulatory framework over the years, specifically:
  • James V. Aidala
  • Charles M. Auer
  • Charles L. Elkins
  • Mark A. Greenwood
  • Glenn E. Schweitzer
Each offered their insights into the history of the Toxic Substances Control Act and what factors are important in the (sometimes) continuing debate over how to reform it.  You can watch the YouTube video below:

More information can be found at the Chemical Heritage Foundation's web site.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

ECHA Committee Adopts First Proposals to Restrict Chemical Substances Under REACH

A key committee responsible for determining chemicals that should be restricted under REACH has issued its first two opinions.  The Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) decided on March 8-11, 2011 that dimethylfumarate (DMFu) should be restricted in articles and lead and lead compounds should be restricted in jewelry.  Both of these chemical substances will now be severely restricted from being used.

The RAC found that:
There is a serious risk to consumers from the use of articles treated with DMFu and that the suggested restriction on the production and placing on the market of articles containing DMFu is appropriate in order to reduce the risk to consumers.

There will now be a temporary ban of the inclusion of DMFu in articles placed on the market in the EU until March 15, 2102, after which a decision will need to be made on whether to make the ban permanent.  DMFu had been used as an anti-mold agent, but there had been "several reports in many Member States of severe skin reactions (dermatitis) in consumers exposed to DMFu in articles, such as leather sofas and shoes." 

The RAC also found that:
Lead contained in jewellery may significantly contribute to the exposure of children to lead by them putting it in their mouths, and that a restriction is therefore appropriate...[A]fter assessing the dossier and the information submitted during the public consultation...basing the restriction on the content of lead in articles unless it could be demonstrated that lead is not released should a child put a piece of jewellery in his or her mouth. 

The main concern is the increased exposure to children, whose behavior often includes sucking or even swallowing small jewelry, and the well-known severe adverse effects to development of the central nervous system in children.

Along with the RAC determinations were parallel determinations on these two substances by the Committee for Socio-economic Analysis (SEAC).  More information on both can be found on the ECHA web site.  The opinions will also be available soon following the links.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

House Republicans (but not Paul) Vote Three Times to Deny Science

House Republicans continued their denial of climate science today by voting three times against amendments offered by the Democrats in the Energy and Commerce Committee. The Committee, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), was considering amendments to its proposed bill that would politically repeal EPA's scientific endangerment finding on greenhouse gases.  The bill would in fact block EPA's ability to take any science based regulatory action on greenhouse gases. 

The first amendment was offered by Ranking member Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA):
"Congress accepts the scientific finding of the Environmental Protection Agency that 'warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.'"

It was defeated 20-31, with all Republican members voting to deny EPA's scientific findings.

The second amendment was offered by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and read:
“’the scientific evidence is compelling’ that elevated concentrations of greenhouse gases resulting from anthropogenic emissions ‘are the root cause of recently observed climate change.’”

This amendment was defeated 21-30, again with all Republicans voting against the amendment.

The third amendment was offered by Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) and it said that human-caused climate change is a threat to public health and welfare. Again, the vote was 21-31 with all Republicans voting against the scientific consensus. 

It should be made clear that the US National Academies of Sciences last year noted that:
A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems….

In addition, recent studies have documented that very nearly all active climate researchers concur that the planet is warming and greenhouse gases are the predominant factor.  Also, the most recent IPCC report, the National Academies of all of the major countries of the world, and pretty much all of the major scientific organizations on the planet concur that the climate is changing and that human activity is the major cause.  The US National Academies called it "settled fact."  So when Republicans unanimously vote against basic scientific principles they are in fact voting to deny the science.

Read more about the vote in articles in The Hill and Politico.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

How to help the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan

The Associated Press lists some ways to help victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  Please do all you can.

— AMERICAN RED CROSS — U.S. mobile phone users can text REDCROSS to 90999 to add $10 automatically to your phone bill. Or visit or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

— INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL CORPS — Sending relief teams and supplies to the area. Call 1-800-481-4462, or visit .

— SAVE THE CHILDREN — The relief effort providing food, medical care and education to children is accepting donations through mobile phones by texting JAPAN to 20222 to donate $10. People can also call 1-800-728-3843 during business hours or visit to donate online.

— GLOBAL GIVING — The non-profit which works through grassroots efforts says Americans can text JAPAN to 50555 to give $10 through their phone bill. Or visit .

— INTERACTION — The group is the largest alliance of U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations and lists many ways to help on its site, .

— NETWORK FOR GOOD — The aggregator of charities has a list of programs and ways to donate to relief efforts. Visit