A ‘significant uptake’ in the use of non-animal testing methods has been reported by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
In its fifth report on the use of alternatives to assess the safety of chemical substances under REACH regulations, ECHA said that non-animal methods had been used particularly to obtain data for skin corrosion/irritation, serious eye damage/eye irritation and skin sensitisation.
As an example, ECHA said that 50% of the studies conducted between 1990 and 2022 for skin and eye irritation were non-animal, and this had risen to 90% for new studies conducted from 2019 to 2022.
Nevertheless, an accompanying video published to announce the report also explained that animal use had increased in some areas, particularly those looking at the long-term effects of chemicals on human health.
ECHA emphasised that under the REACH regulation, testing on vertebrate animals is only permitted as a last resort.
EARA executive director, Kirk Leech, said: “Reducing animals under REACH is one of the key demands of the European Citizens’ Initiative, which had its recent hearing in the European Parliament.
"The ECHA comments show that there are difficulties for those awaiting any large-scale reduction of animals used for scientific purposes.”