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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On March 7, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft Strategic Plan to Promote the Development and Implementation of Alternative Test Methods to reduce the use of vertebrate animals in chemical testing, fulfilling another milestone under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act that amended the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Under amended TSCA, EPA is required to develop a strategy to promote the development and implementation of alternative test methods and strategies to reduce, refine or replace vertebrate animal testing by June 22, 2018.  EPA states the draft document incorporates input from a November 2017 public meeting held on the development of the draft strategy, as well as written comments submitted after the meeting, and draws upon EPA research on test methods.

The draft strategy outlines EPA’s Strategic Plan for the reduction of testing in vertebrates for chemicals regulated under TSCA. The organizing framework for the EPA’s strategy to reduce vertebrate animal testing relies heavily on what have been termed new approach methodologies (NAM) -- a broadly descriptive reference to any nonanimal technology, methodology, approach, or combination thereof that can be used to provide information on chemical hazard and risk assessment.  The strategy describes a multi-year process with incremental steps for adoption and integration of NAMs that are appropriate and fit-for-purpose for making TSCA decisions, and has three core components:

  • Identifying, developing, and integrating NAMs for TSCA decisions;
  • Building confidence that the NAMs are scientifically reliable and relevant for TSCA decisions; and
  • Implementing the reliable and relevant NAMs for TSCA decisions. The EPA has identified seven current/near-term (less that three years) needs and activities.

EPA states that completing these activities will result in moving towards four intermediate-term (three to five years) objectives and these time frames, needs, and activities provide the basis for developing NAMs, establishing reliability and relevance criteria for the NAMs, and implementing NAMs to inform decisions made under TSCA.

Comments on the draft strategy will be due 45 days after the notice of availability is published in the Federal Register.  EPA has scheduled a public meeting to obtain input on the draft strategy for April 10, 2018, from 9:00 a.m. (EDT) to 5:00 p.m. (EDT) in Washington, D.C.  Registration is available online and is requested by April 3, 2018.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On October 26, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would be hosting a public meeting on November 2, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EST) to obtain input from interested parties and the public on its development of a Strategic Plan to promote the development and implementation of alternative test methods and strategies to reduce, refine, or replace vertebrate animal testing.  EPA is required under Section 4(h) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as amended, to develop this Strategic Plan by June 22, 2018.  EPA states that it “will consider input from the meeting and from written comments to develop a draft Strategic Plan that will be shared with the public for comment.”

EPA has posted materials for the meeting to inform the Strategic Plan and that can be used for discussion and comment on its website, including:

EPA is requesting input about the draft Strategic Plan to be shared during the meeting and in the form of written comments that may be submitted to Docket No. EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0559 on www.regulations.gov; comments must be received no later than 60 days following the meeting.  Registration for the meeting and further information is available on EPA’s Alternative Test Methods webpage.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

The amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) has ushered in new developments in testing strategies.  In March 2017, Andre E. Nel, Ph.D. (Division of NanoMedicine, Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California (UCLA); California NanoSystems Institute, UCLA (CNSI)) and Timothy F. Malloy (CNSI; UCLA School of Law; UCLA Center on Environmental and Occupational Health) published Policy reforms to update chemical safety testing:  TSCA reform empowers EPA to use modernized safety testing in the United States, in the Journal Science.  This article discusses this new “paradigm” in testing, which it states relies “largely on nonanimal, alternative testing strategies (ATS), uses mechanism-based in vitro assays and in silico predictive tools for testing chemicals at considerably less cost.”  There are technological and institutional challenges, however, that the article addresses, but the authors state they hope to provide a “cautious but hopeful assessment of this intersection of law and science.”   

The article describes five iterative components that make up the elements of ATS:  conceptual pathways; biomolecular events; screening and modeling; integrating evidence; and regulatory applications.  These components work together to inform four types of regulatory decisions: “screening to identify chemicals and nanomaterials for more extensive testing and evaluation; ranking or prioritization for further action; qualitative or quantitative risk management in support of risk management; and comparative evaluation of the hazards and risks of different substances in support of safer design.” 

Amended TSCA Section 4(h)(2) implements alternative testing methods to “promote the development and timely incorporation of new scientifically valid test methods and strategies that are not based on vertebrate animals,” and Section 4(h)(2)(A) directs EPA, by June 2018, to develop a strategic plan that will promote the development and implementation of alternative test methods and strategies to reduce, refine or replace vertebrate animal testing and provide information of equivalent or better scientific quality and relevance for assessing risks of injury to health or the environment of chemical substances or mixtures….” 

The article states that while the amended statute seems to be only “procedural in nature” in terms of the implementation of ATS, as the statute compels EPA to facilitate development of ATS but does not obligate the agency to adopt it, two factors bode well for ATS implementation: (1) various EPA offices as well as its partner entities are “already engaged in bringing ATS into the regulatory context”; and (2) as amended TSCA mandates EPA to prioritize chemicals already in the marketplace for safety evaluations, by “specified enforceable deadlines,” which incentivizes the broader EPA chemical regulatory program to “adopt ATS for prioritization and subsequent risk evaluation of chemicals deemed high priority.”  The article references EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD), the Office of Science Coordination and Policy (OSCP), the new chemical review program, and EPA’s partner entity the National Toxicology Program Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods as those entities engaged in ATS implementation.  


 

The American Chemical Society (ACS), together with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH) and Honorary Co-Hosts Representatives Ken Calvert (R-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), through ACS’ Science & the Congress Project have announced that they will be hosting a panel on “Alternatives to Animal Testing:  Emerging Uses and Policy Implications” on Tuesday, September 13, 2016, from Noon - 1:30 p.m. on Capitol Hill at the Cannon House Office Building in Room 340.  The panel will cover new and evolving non-animal based technologies and science that are being used to advance toxicology and safety testing and improve prospects in biomedical research, and will discuss how to robustly develop and incentivize adoption of these new methods, followed by an audience Q&A.  Lunch will be provided.  The moderator and panelists include:

  • Pamela Frasch, J.D., Lewis & Clark Law School (Moderator);
  • Warren Casey, Ph.D., National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences  and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Program;
  • Amy Clippinger, Ph.D., PETA International Science Consortium Ltd.;
  • Paul A. Locke, J.D., Dr. P.H.,  JHSPH;
  • Pamela J. Spencer, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., Scientific Director of Toxicology and Environmental Research & Consulting, The Dow Chemical Company.

Registration for the panel is available online