Doctors Sue EPA to Halt Toxic Testing on Animals
Unreliable Animal Tests Seen as Delaying Tactic; People Harmed by Toxins in the Home
WASHINGTON—On behalf of a coalition of nonprofit organizations, as well as three individual plaintiffs harmed by toxic chemicals, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) will file suit on 5 September against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). At issue is the EPA’s High Production Volume (HPV) program, which encourages chemical companies to conduct screening-level toxicity tests on 2,800 chemicals produced or imported in amounts exceeding 1 million pounds per year.
At an estimated cost of $16 million each year for the EPA to administer, the HPV program calls for thousands of duplicative animal tests that are not predictive of human harm. Available alternatives that are more sensitive than animal tests, such as in vitro genetic toxicity testing, are not being required, and the program does nothing to limit human exposure to known toxins.
“The HPV program was developed behind closed doors, bypassing the scientific review and public comment required by the Toxic Substance Control Act [TSCA] and the Federal Advisory Committee Act,” says Mindy Kursban, chief counsel for PCRM. “Thousands of animals are being needlessly used, generating masses of unreliable data, while at the same time the public continues to be poisoned by known toxic chemicals. The EPA has not banned a single toxic industrial chemical in more than 10 years using its authority under TSCA. It conducts endless tests and takes no action.” The lawsuit will be filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Plaintiffs John Gentry and Scott Mishler were exposed to toxic substances at work and both have suffered serious illnesses. Mr. Mishler, a former journeyman electrician, is no longer able to work due to illnesses caused by exposure to hydraulic fluid containing an HPV chemical slated for re-testing. Tests done in 1984 and 1995 showed that the chemical, trixylenyl phosphate, does not kill rats, yet phosphate-based hydraulic fluids can cause severe damage to workers’ nervous systems.
Plaintiff Rosa Naparstek, a resident of New York City, has multiple chemical sensitivities syndrome, an environmental illness caused by toxic chemicals in the environment. Many HPV chemicals used in soaps, shampoos, perfumes, detergents, bleach, paints, glues, carpeting and gasoline cause Ms. Neparstek to experience headaches, dizziness, nausea, and muscle and joint pain.
The following nonprofit organizations are also plaintiffs: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the American Anti-Vivisection Society, and the Alternatives Research and Development Foundation.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.