“Mice predict the effect on humans with about 43% efficiency, so sometimes it seems that tossing a coin would give a better result.” - Dr. Thomas Hartung, Professor and Director, Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, Johns Hopkins University, USA
Animals are widely used for chemical safety assessment (regulatory testing). Everything from household cleaners to food additives to pesticides, paint, and industrial chemicals to environmental pollutants are currently tested in animals to determine adverse outcomes on human health and the environment. A plethora of animal tests is used to measure acute and chronic adverse effects where rodents serve as the gold standard. However, the legacy animal tests do not accurately predict human toxicities because “humans are definitely no 70-kg mice” (Dr. Thomas Hartung).
There are currently tens of thousands of chemicals on the Canadian market, and hundreds more being introduced every year. Many of these are released into the environment, where they can interfere with ecosystem and wildlife health in addition to harmful effects on humans.
The large number of chemicals that require human and ecotoxicological safety assessments—and the number of species potentially affected—make traditional whole-animal testing methods ineffective, impractical, and uneconomical.
Through the Regulatory Pillar, we are working with academic, industry, and government sectors to develop and validate methods to streamline the testing of chemicals using non-animal, new approach methodologies.