Animal Alternatives in Environmental Risk Assessment Committee

Mission Statement

To ensure the development of a sound technical basis for alternative test methods as a means to reduce, refine, or replace standard ecotoxicity test procedures around the globe.

The committee aims to provide a forum to coordinate the debates and best emerging practices of the alternatives and animal model development sciences to meet existing hazard assessment, effluent assessment, risk assessment, classification and labeling, and other regulatory needs.

Working Groups

  • EnviroTox Database and Tools/Ecological Threshold of Toxicological Concern (ecoTTC)

    This group is tasked with developing a strategy to update and augment the EnviroTox database (https://envirotoxdatabase.org) and refine and further develop applicable tools. Ongoing work is focused on development of case studies and updating/augmenting the database. Recent efforts have focused on developing manuscripts to describe and document the approaches and tools within EnviroTox, including a focus on algal acute to chronic ratios as well as PNECs.

  • Effluent Assessment

    Plans for a 2020 meeting with key stakeholders to help develop a comprehensive testing and evaluation plan for effluent NAMs were put on hold due to COVID-19. However, work will progress in 2021 related to sharing of information and development of a template to collect existing effluent information, with plans for an in-person meeting when travel allows. An overview of the research proposal that was developed in 2019 was presented at the 2020 SETAC Europe Virtual Annual Meeting and discussions are ongoing to identify additional funding to support (and potentially expand) the research project.

  • Ecotoxicology Endocrine Toolbox: Alternative Methods

    This team, a collaboration between HESI and NC3Rs, is assessing available in vitro/in silico methods (new approach methodologies [NAMs]) to evaluate chemicals that may act via an endocrine pathway in fish and amphibians.

  • Ecotoxicology Endocrine Toolbox: In Vivo Analysis

    This team, a collaboration between HESI and NC3Rs, is evaluating current in vivo EDC tests in fish and amphibians, focusing on analysis of historical control data. This will involve several efforts related to analysis and communication of available in vivo information. The overall purpose is to provide a foundation upon which new alternative methods will be evaluated and to critically assess existing in vivo test methods.

  • HESI/National Centre for the 3Rs (NC3Rs) Workshop Follow-Up Team

    This group is developing a manuscript based on the output and critical discussions from the February 2020 workshop.

  • Weight-of-Evidence in Acute Fish Toxicity Assessment (SWIFT)

    The initial work of this committee focused on the development and scientific issues surrounding the fish embryo test (FET) as an animal alternative. While accepted as an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guideline, uptake and use in regulatory assessments has been hampered due to a lack of interpretational guidance. A new initiative to develop qualitative and quantitative weight-of-evidence frameworks for assessment of acute fish toxicity using a wide range of lines of evidence is proposed. A working group, led by Dr. Adam Lillicrap (NIVA), successfully received European Chemical Industry Council Long-Range Initiative (CEFIC-LRI) funding (€250,000 for 2 years) to develop a Bayesian network model with collaboration from HESI and committee members. The kick-off meeting for the project was held in Spring 2020, and work is underway. HESI will receive a total of $20,000 to support staff time on this project over the next 2 years.

HESI Staff

Committee Publications

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Ecological Thresholds of Toxicological Concern: A Review

The ecological threshold of toxicological concern (ecoTTC) is analogous to traditional human health-based TTCs but with derivation and application to ecological species. An ecoTTC is computed from the probability distribution of predicted no effect concentrations (PNECs) derived from either chronic or extrapolated acute ...

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Application of New Statistical Distribution Approaches for Environmental Mixture Risk Assessment: A Case Study

There is growing evidence that single substances present below their individual thresholds of effect may still contribute to combined effects. Here, the possible use of ecotoxicological threshold concentrations of no concern (i.e. 5th percentile of statistical distribution of ecotoxicological values) is investigated to ...

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Mode of Action (MOA) Classifications in the EnviroTox Database: Development and Implementation of a Consensus MOA Classification

Multiple modes of action (MOA) frameworks have been developed in aquatic ecotoxicology, mainly based on fish toxicity. These frameworks provide information on a key determinant of chemical toxicity, but the MOA categories and level of specificity remain unique to each of the classification schemes. This study aimed to develop a ...

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Creation of a Curated Aquatic Toxicology Database: EnviroTox

The HESI Animal Alternatives in Environmental Risk Assessment Committee completed the development of a large, diverse environmental database for the creation of an ecological threshold of toxicological concern (ecoTTC) tool.

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An International Perspective on the Tools and Concepts for Effluent Toxicity Assessments in the Context of Animal Alternatives: Reduction in Vertebrate Use

HESI's Animal Alternatives in ERA Committee published tools and concepts for effluent toxicity assessment in an issue of SETAC's Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. The publication discusses a suite of strategies that can be used in a weight of evidence approach to reduce reliance on in vivo fish tests as part of an ...

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