EPA: 340 Chemicals to be Evaluated Under Testing Program

On Aug. 2, EPA's National Center for Computational Toxicology released a list of 340 chemicals that will be evaluated under Phase I of the ToxCastTM research program. This three-phased program sets priorities for toxicity testing of environmental chemicals in order to more efficiently obtain critical information necessary to protect people and the environment.

"When complete, the ToxCastTM Program will allow EPA to test thousands of environmental chemicals quickly for harmful effects. EPA will enter a new era of environmental chemical testing, which will allow the agency to better protect human health and the environment," said Dr. George Gray, assistant administrator for the Office of Research and Development.

The 340 chemicals (mainly pesticides and other select chemicals) were chosen because of our toxicological understanding from existing traditional animal test data and their intended activities as biological agents. Under Phase I of ToxCastTM, the chemicals will be examined in hundreds of different rapid computer tests referred to as high throughput screening (HTS) bioassays. Phase I will be used to create chemical signatures of compounds. These chemical signatures will then be compared to known toxicity data in this proof-of-concept phase. It is expected that patterns will emerge that are predictive of compounds that could cause harm to people and the environment. Results of Phase I are expected in 2008, and will be posted on the ToxCastTM Web site, http://www.epa.gov/ncct/toxcast/news.html.

Phase II will involve a larger, more diverse set of chemicals to test the predictability of patterns identified in Phase I. In Phase III, ToxCastTM will expand the list to thousands of environmental chemicals, delivering an affordable, science-based system for decision makers.

In June, the National Academies' National Research Council released a report calling on EPA and other federal scientific agencies to use advances in computers, genomics and cellular biology to speed up toxicity testing. The ToxCastTM Program which began in 2006 implements many of the reports recommendations, agency officials said.

The National Research Council report, "Toxicity Testing in the Twenty-first Century: A Vision and a Strategy," can be accessed at http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11970.

This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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