246191 Providing for representation of the public interest in the transition in chemicals testing and assessment

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 9:10 AM

Amy D. Kyle, PhD MPH , School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Both public policies and technical methods for promoting chemical safety are in transition. The European REACH program makes chemical manufacturers and importers responsible to produce data about hazards of chemicals. In the US, many states have enacted policies that require greater scrutiny of chemicals and actions to reduce hazards, particularly for children's products. Both public and private sector initiatives promote use of alternatives assessment to identify lower hazard ingredients and practices. Such initiatives reflect innovations in policy approaches. Yet, they rely almost exclusively on data produced through testing methods that date from the 1970s, primarily based on animal models and on authoritative lists of chemicals developed based on scientific understanding from decades ago. There has been much discussion in academic and technical sectors about opportunities and pitfalls associated with a transition to different kinds of testing methods including “high throughput” and computer-based methods. There are also numerous sources of pressure to convert to such newer methods, including potentially lower cost, reduced impact on laboratory animals, and greater capacity to address more chemicals. However, new methods could represent either an improvement in capacity to ascertain hazards of chemicals or a loss in capacity to ascertain hazards, depending on what methods are developed and ultimately selected. At present, much of this discussion is occurring outside the view of civil society, and is not governed by principles for adoption of new methods. This session will present a brief overview of the current state of adoption of new methods, highlight major initiatives toward this end, and discuss principles that could be applied for evaluation and adoption of such new methods, to allow for engagement of civil society and articulation of the public interest. These principles will include discussion of transparency, assessment of scope, and metrics for assessment of likelihood of over- and under-predicting hazards.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify three factors that are leading to changes in chemicals testing and assessment methods. 2. Discuss key directions for these changes. 3. Explain strategies that would promote consideration of the public interest in methods ultimately adopted.

Keywords: Environmental Health Hazards, Sustainability

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am on the faculty of the School of Public Health at the University of California Berkeley. I have been reseraching issues of chemical testing and assessment policy for the past 3 years and will presente some of my research findings.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.