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In Vitro Tests within the REACH Information Strategies


Kimmo Louekari, Kirsi Sihvonen, Marko Kuittinen and Vibeke Sømnes3

Tonnage-based information requirements are specified in the proposal on the regulation on the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) in the European Union. The hazard assessment for toxic endpoints should be performed by using a tiered approach, i.e. as an information strategy (IS), starting with an evaluation of all of the data already available, including animal in vivo and in vitro data, and human evidence and case reports, as well as data from (Quantitative)-Structure Activity Relationships ([Q]SARs) or read-across, before any further testing is suggested. To contribute to the implementation of the REACH system, the Nordic countries launched two projects: 1) a review of currently used testing strategies, including a comparison with the REACH requirements; and 2) the development of detailed ISs for skin and eye irritation/corrosion. The review showed that the ISs and classification criteria for the selected endpoints are inconsistent in many cases. In the classification criteria, human data and in vivo test results are usually the prerequisites. Other types of information, such as data from in vitro studies, can sometimes be used, but usually as supportive evidence only. This differs from the REACH ISs, where QSARs, read-across and in vitro testing are important elements. In the other part of the project, an IS for skin and eye irritation/corrosion was proposed. The strategy was “tested” by using four high production volume (HPV) chemicals: hydrogen peroxide, methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE), trivalent chromium, and diantimony trioxide, but only MTBE and trivalent chromium are dealt with in this paper. The “test” revealed that in vivo data, human case reports and physical-chemical data were available and could be used in the evaluation. Classification could be based on the proposed IS and the existing data in all cases, except for the eye irritation/corrosion of trivalent chromium. Weight-of-evidence analysis appeared to be a useful step in the ISs proposed, and including it in the REACH strategies should be considered. For these chemicals, few in vitro and (Q)SAR data were available — more of these data would be generated, if the relevant guidance and legislation on classification were updated.