Organochlorine risk assessment tools

New study on assessing chemicals whilst reducing the need for animal testing

Historically, there has been a great deal of interest in how some organochlorine molecules behave in the environment and in organisms. Much of this interest has focused on the ‘ecotoxicity’ of such molecules, to assess any risks of any release and has led to the, sometimes incorrect, restriction of these chemicals. Many regulatory approaches are based on this ‘precautionary principle’ which states that if a chemical has the suspected risk of causing harm to the public or environment, then the burden of proof falls upon those parties
involved in producing that chemical. It is important that any such proof be supported by a strong data set. Many of these data come from studies in aquatic organisms (such as fish), but these are not ideal given the drive to reduce animal testing. As such, novel approaches are required.

In conjunction with a team of academics, industrial representatives and consultants former Euro Chlor staff member Shaun Presow has published a fascinating article in Environmental Science and Technology (2015, 49, 12289-12296). In this article, they discuss the link between narcotic toxicity and chemical activity in organic chemicals. The researchers analysed over 2000 toxicity data points for various aquatic organisms and compared them with the water solubility and melting point information of the studied chemicals. Based on the quality of these data, 660 data points were taken further for grouping based on the mode of action and then compared against their chemical activity.

The results showed a statistical link between the two, meaning that chemical activity could be used as a predictor of toxicity to aquatic organisms such as fish, invertebrates and algae. Not only is this good news for reducing the number of organisms needed for the regulatory assessment of chemicals and their mixtures, but it also has positive implications for providing additional lines of evidence in proving the level of risk associated with many, unto now misunderstood, chemicals.

The article can be accessed here.