A Rat's Best Friend
It is not always easy to save an animal’s life. But PCRM’s research advocacy scientific staff saves them by the hundreds.
PCRM toxicologist Chad Sandusky, Ph.D., reviews plans for safety tests submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under its High Production Volume Challenge program. His job is to show that animals are not needed, despite the pressure many companies feel to pursue cruel and old-fashioned animal tests.
Recently, DuPont submitted plans to kill 675 animals to test the toxicity of a chemical called TIPB, or triisopropylborate, which is used in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Reviewing the plan, Dr. Sandusky recognized that the chemical dissolves in water to produce ordinary isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and boric acid (a common ingredient in eyewashes). If the chemical were swallowed, it would rapidly dissociate into these two compounds, whose effects are already well known.
Dr. Sandusky called DuPont and suggested that, instead of doing the animal test, the company should put the chemical into a solution with the same acidic conditions as the stomach, demonstrating that, indeed, no animal testing is needed. Which is exactly what DuPont then did.
In February, a group of chemical companies proposed a test for benzenesulfonic acid, a catalyst used in the foundry industry. In the test, the substance was to be forced into the stomachs of rats by a gavage tube. However, because the chemical is acidic and highly caustic, Dr. Sandusky pointed out that it would corrode the animals’ digestive tracts. Not only would the test be cruel, but the data would be of no value in assessing toxicity. The company agreed, as did the EPA, and withdrew the test proposal, saving 750 animals from suffering and death.
And in January, PCRM’s Kristie Stoick, M.P.H., discovered that Crompton Corporation in Middlebury, Conn., planned similar tests for a chemical used in plastic manufacturing. Ms. Stoick pointed out to the company that the tests duplicated others already planned by another sponsor. As a result of her intervention, the new tests were cancelled, saving another 675 animals.