Testing Tactics: REACH and In vitro Alternatives: Skin Irritation Testing

Welcome back to a continuing discussion regarding the new Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) regulation and its impact on chemical testing. As discussed in the previous column, regulation No. 1907/2006, or REACH, is in effect in the European Union (EU) and safety information must now be provided on all chemicals that are either sold, manufactured or imported into the EU in a quantity greater than or equal to one ton per year.

Current estimates indicate that the REACH regulations will apply to more than 30,000 existing chemicals, and the effort to screen all of the materials could result in the deaths of several million animals if animal testing alone were used in the screening process.

To avoid the use of such a large number of animals, the REACH regulation has mandated that in vitro alternatives be used to replace animal testing whenever possible. While the list of currently validated in vitro alternative methods is alarmingly short, there are many new methods in the process of validation that could be introduced in the very near future. It is the purpose of this series of articles to provide an overview of these existing validated in vitro methods, as well as new methods that are being considered for validation.

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