Comment: A Critical Evaluation of the 2011 ECHA Reports on Compliance with the REACH and CLP Regulations and on the Use of Alternatives to Testing on Animals for Compliance with the REACH Regulation
Horst Spielmann, Ursula G. Sauer and Ovanes Mekenyan
On 30 June 2011, the European Chemicals Agency published two reports, one on the functioning of the REACH system, the other on the use of alternatives to animal testing in compliance with that system. The data presented are based on information gained during the first registration period under the REACH system, which included high production volume chemicals and substances of very high concern, which have the most extensive information requirements. A total of 25,460 registration dossiers were received, covering 3,400 existing, so-called ‘phase-in’, substances, and 900 new, so-called ‘non-phase-in’, substances. Data sharing and the joint submission of data are reported to have worked successfully. In the registration dossiers for these substances, results from new animal tests were included for less than 1% of all the endpoints; testing proposals (required for ‘higher-tier’ information requirements) were submitted for 711 in vivo tests involving vertebrate animals. The registrants mainly used old, existing experimental data, or options for the adaptation (waiving) of information requirements, before collecting new information. For predicting substance toxicity, ‘read-across’ was the second most-used approach, followed by ‘weight-of-evidence’. In vitro toxicity tests played a minor role, and were only used when the respective test methods had gained the status of regulatory acceptance. All in all, a successful start to the REACH programme was reported, particularly since, in contrast to most predictions, it did not contribute to a significant increase in toxicity testing in animals.