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EPA Releases Screening Data on 1,800 Chemicals, Announces ToxCast Data Challenges

“EPA’s use of cost-effective advanced chemical screening techniques has transformed this country’s knowledge of the safety of almost 2,000 chemicals currently in use,” said Lek Kadeli, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “[This] release marks an important milestone in communicating and improving our understanding of the impact chemicals have on human health and the environment.

Along with announcing the availability of data on these chemicals of concern, the Environmental Protection Agency has announced the ToxCast Data Challenges, a series of challenges inviting the science and technology community to help provide solutions for how new chemical screening data can be used to predict potential health effects. Challenge winners will receive awards for their innovative research ideas. 

The data were gathered through advanced techniques, including robotics and high-throughput screening, as part of an ongoing federal collaboration to improve chemical screening. The collaboration, Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century (Tox21), is comprised of the EPA, the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences/National Toxicology Program, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and the Food and Drug Administration.

“Making these data publicly available will help researchers across disciplines to better identify hazardous chemicals,” said Raymond Tice, Ph.D., who heads the Biomolecular Screening Branch at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of NIH. “We are pleased to be a partner in these collaborative efforts and look forward to further enhancing the amount of Tox21 data available to the public.”

The EPA says only a fraction of chemicals in use in the U.S. have been adequately assessed for potential risk. This information is useful for prioritizing chemicals for potential risk, as well as predicting whether chemical exposures could lead to adverse health effects.

Though California recently adopted groundbreaking regulations promising safer consumer products, in the absence of a stronger federal chemicals policy, a number of consumer products companies have taken it upon themselves to establish guidelines and goals around the phase-out of hazardous chemicals from their supply chains. Seventh Generation requires all ingredients to pass a review of health and environmental safety concerns, conducting independent, third-party laboratories to screen its products annually for chemicals of concern; and Nike, Levi Strauss, H&M and several other members of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Group have committed to publishing a list of chemicals targeted for phase out or research by 2015 as part of a plan to eliminate hazardous chemicals from their supply chains by 2020.


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