2 new projects in the OECD test guidelines program

Published 
August 22, 2023

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which works to establish policies for a better life, has set up a program of guidelines for the testing of chemicals. These guidelines represent a compilation of internationally recognized test methods, widely used by governments, industry and independent laboratories to assess the safety of chemical products.

Their main objective is to facilitate regulatory safety testing, notification and registration of chemicals. These directives are regularly updated to take account of scientific advances and to meet the specific regulatory requirements of each country.

OECD Test Guidelines Program

The OECD has added 2 new PEPPER projects for the identification of potential endocrine disruptors. These projects are part of the chemical testing guidelines program, bringing the total number of projects on the work plan to 5:

The first project, focusing on physico-chemical properties, is essential as it provides a solid basis for understanding the behavior of chemicals in different environments. The information gathered through these guidelines will help determine the solubility, stability, volatility and other fundamental characteristics of the chemical substances studied. These data are crucial for assessing their potential for dispersion in air, water or soil, and for understanding how they may interact with other elements in the surrounding environment.

The second project concerns effects on biotic systems. This involves analyzing how chemicals can influence living organisms, whether terrestrial or aquatic. The guidelines for this project will enable us to assess the impact of chemical substances on biodiversity, ecosystems and food chains. This is essential to prevent any disruption to natural ecosystems and to protect flora and fauna.

The third project, on environmental fate, focuses on the trajectory of chemicals in the environment after their release. This involves studying their persistence, degradation and bioaccumulation potential in living organisms. Understanding these processes is essential for assessing the risk of long-term contamination and developing appropriate environmental management strategies.

The fourth project focuses on the effects of chemicals on human health. These guidelines are crucial for assessing the toxic potential of chemical substances and their impact on health, whether through direct exposure or via food or drinking water. The safety of workers and the general public depends on these rigorous assessments.

Finally, the fifth draft concerns other review guidelines, which could cover a wide range of specific aspects related to the assessment of chemicals, depending on needs and scientific advances.

The draft guidelines will be subject to thorough examination by an OECD committee of international experts. If approved, these methods can be established as "guidelines" for chemical substances. They will facilitate the identification of endocrine disruptors, helping to ensure that they are taken into account in regulatory processes.

Understanding the role of PEPPER 

PEPPER is an Association under the law of 1901 involved in the National Strategy on Endocrine Disruptors (SNPE). Following an in-depth project involving a "task force" made up of stakeholders such as Ineris, industry sectors, ministerial departments and NGOs, PEPPER secured funding from the Programme des Investissements d'Avenir (PIA) at the end of 2019, supplemented by contributions from private and public members. 

Its main aim is to fill a gap in the qualification and regulatory system linked to the lack of validated tools for characterizing endocrine-disrupting substances, as not all effects and mechanisms of action are covered by existing methods.

The PEPPER platform is dedicated to the "pre-validation" of test methods in toxicology and ecotoxicology, which have been identified as still being necessary to characterize endocrine disrupting properties. This pre-validation is a preliminary process aimed at speeding up the validation of these methods by international bodies such as the OECD, ECVAM and ISO, to make them acceptable in regulatory systems concerning substances, products, environments or activities.

The creation of PEPPER is based on 4 considerations: 

  • Long lists of substances to be assessed
  • A lack of validated test methods, highlighted by the European Commission
  • The cost of validation tests on the robustness and predictive capacity of methods
  • Lack of dedicated financial resources at both European and national level

In order to meet its objectives, PEPPER provides and finances three essential functions:

  • The identification and documentation of mature, scientifically sound test methods that meet the specific needs of Endocrine Disruptor identification.
  • The organization of tests on these methods in collaboration with testing laboratories, with the aim of assessing transferability from the developing laboratory, as well as the repeatability and reproducibility of results.

Conclusion

The OECD's aim is to use guidelines to standardize test methods in order to ensure reliable test results, promote data quality and guarantee their scientific and technical validity.

According to the head of the OECD's environment, health and safety division, PEPPER is surely the only initiative to recognize the critical issues involved in validation and to commit actively to resolving them. 

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