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PCRM Scientists Push EPA to Scuttle Animal Test Plans
July 22, 2011


The PCRM toxicology team has spared 120 rats from a painful death in a chemical toxicity test with an insecticide called Tau-fluvalinate.

Here’s the background:

The Environmental Protection Agency requires that pest control products be tested on animals. Typical testing protocols include painful short- and long-term tests and consume a large number of animals. The EPA also sometimes takes a new look at products that are already on the market and can require that their manufacturers conduct a new round of animal tests.

When the EPA issues these requests, PCRM scientists carefully review them in order to eliminate as many tests as possible. Last December, EPA released its “test plan” for Tau-fluvalinate, a product manufactured by Chicago-based Wellmark International. Among the requirements was a neurotoxicity test using at least 120 young male and female rats. The animals were to be given high doses of the chemical and eventually killed.

Because Tau-fluvalinate is a neurotoxin, the animals would likely have experienced a wide variety of nerve symptoms, including loss of control of bodily movements, muscle spasms, and tremors before finally being killed for examination.

PCRM pointed out that the chemical’s neurotoxic potential could be determined from existing data and that the new test was unnecessary. EPA took another look and eventually agreed, canceling the request.

Similarly, PCRM comments on the "test plan" for Chlorimuron ethyl, another pest control product, led the EPA to revise its requested test on fish, saving 35 fish from an untimely death.

This sort of work is not well known, but is routine at PCRM. Each time a test is cancelled or replaced by another method, many animals are spared from a miserable fate.

PCRM’s toxicology team is headed by Chad Sandusky, Ph.D., and includes Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H., Nancy Beck, Ph.D., and Aryenish Birdie.


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