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Animal Tests

The HPV program calls upon the chemical industry to collect toxicity information for each HPV chemical using an arbitrary checklist of the following animal-poisoning tests:

Acute toxicity studies in mammals are conducted to measure a chemical’s capacity to cause harm or death within two weeks of a single, brief exposure. Chemicals are administered to animals (usually rodents) in extremely high doses via one of the following routes:

  • Oralchemicals are pumped directly into the stomachs of animals via a force-feeding tube or syringe.
  • Inhalationanimals are either confined to a gas chamber or are restrained with a breathing apparatus over their mouths.

Acute toxicity studies inflict hideous suffering on animals, who may endure severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, bleeding from the nose, mouth, and genitals, convulsions, seizures, and paralysis before they ultimately die.

Acute toxicity studies in fish are a type of “ecotoxicity” test conducted to measure a chemical’s effects on the environment and wildlife. Chemicals are pumped into the water of tanks holding the fish, who are exposed to the test chemical for several days. The number of fish who die each day is recorded, and the chemical concentration that kills 50 percent of the fish is calculated. Acute toxicity studies inflict hideous suffering on animals, who may endure severe pain as evidenced by visible physical and behavioral abnormalities before they are ultimately poisoned to death.

Repeated dose toxicity studies expose animals to repeated, lower doses of chemicals for one to three months to measure the effects of multiple chemical exposures on the liver, kidneys, lungs, heart, and nervous system. Chemicals are usually administered to animals via oral gavage (in which a syringe or force-feeding tube is inserted into their stomachs), although skin and inhalation routes are also used. These studies are typically conducted using two different species of animal, one rodent (rat, mouse, etc.) and one nonrodent (usually dogs). Repeated dose studies are highly stressful and cruel, as animals are subjected to frequent handling, restraint and inhumane force-feeding practices, in addition to suffering the toxic effects of the chemical under investigation.

Reproductive toxicity studies in mammals are conducted to measure a chemical’s effects on reproductive organs and fertility. Such tests are based on a repeated dose toxicity study in rodents, during which animals are examined for changes in sexual behavior, sperm and egg production and fertilization, development in the uterus and after birth, and hormonal activity. At the conclusion of the study, the animals are killed and their reproductive organs are removed for study. Animals in reproductive toxicity studies suffer not only from the toxic effects of the chemical under investigation, but also as a result of frequent and often stressful handling, restraint, and inhumane force-feeding practices.

Developmental toxicity studies are conducted to measure a chemical’s effect on developing offspring during critical periods of growth. These tests are based on a repeated dose toxicity study in pregnant rodents and are sometimes carried out for extended periods to study several generations of offspring. Developmental toxicity studies are highly stressful and cruel, as animals are subjected to frequent handling, restraint, and inhumane force-feeding practices, in addition to suffering the toxic effects of the chemical under investigation. Their offspring, if they survive, may suffer gross birth defects such as developmental abnormalities or debilitating physical deformities.

Genetic toxicity studies are conducted using a variety of test methods to measure a chemical’s capacity to induce mutations or other changes in the body’s genetic material. Chemicals are administered via oral gavage (in which a syringe or force-feeding tube is inserted into their stomachs) or are injected into the abdominal cavities of rats, mice, or hamsters. Samples of bone marrow and/or blood are taken at several intervals following exposure to the chemical. Cells are harvested from the blood or bone marrow and analyzed for genetic abnormalities. Genetic toxicity studies are highly stressful and cruel, as animals are subjected to frequent handling, restraint, and inhumane force-feeding practices, in addition to suffering the toxic effects of the chemical under investigation.

Chronic toxicity studies in fish are a type of “ecotoxicity” test conducted to measure a chemical’s effect on the environment and wildlife. Chemicals are pumped into the tanks holding the fish, who are exposed to the test substance for two to four weeks. The number of fish who die each day is recorded, and the chemical concentration that kills 50 percent of the fish is calculated. Chronic toxicity studies inflict hideous suffering on animals, who may endure severe pain as evidenced by visible physical and behavioral abnormalities before they are ultimately poisoned to death.

Click here to read more about the High Production Volume (HPV) Chemical testing Program.

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