Integrating Emerging Technologies into Chemical Safety Assessment

Traditionally, the regulatory risk assessment of pesticides has utilized a battery of animal-based (in vivo) tests to produce scientifically-based risk assessment conclusions and risk management strategies that will protect human health and the environment. Integrated testing, using data from diverse fields of study, represents an exciting means to augment toxicity testing and further improve the safety of pesticides and other regulated chemicals.

In 2009, the Minister of Health (on behalf of the Pest Management Regulatory Agency) requested that the Council of Canadian Academies assemble an expert panel to examine the scientific status of the use of integrated testing strategies for the regulatory risk assessment of pesticides. 

After examining the available evidence, the Council’s Expert Panel concluded the issues inherent in the current approach to chemical testing are the lack of toxicity data for the majority of industrial chemicals, and the need to strengthen regulatory decisions based on the best available science. The Panel believes these challenges can be met by adopting an integrated approach to testing and assessment (IATA) of chemicals.

The evidence suggests that over time, IATA would enhance the reliability of existing testing practices by integrating new science into the regulatory framework, while also making it possible to assess the safety of data-poor chemicals that have not yet received extensive analysis. 

The Expert Panel’s report also indicates that the adoption of IATA strategies may refine and streamline testing of chemicals, as well as improve results in the future. Although the Panel is not aware of a complete set of alternative testing methods that could be immediately adopted, the state of the science is evolving rapidly and the Panel expects to see an increased use of integrated testing strategies over the next decade, resulting in improved evidence-based decision making.

Assessment Question

What is the scientific status of the use of integrated testing strategies in the human and environmental regulatory risk assessment of pesticides?

Report and Supplementary Materials

Expert Panel Membership

The Expert Panel on the Integrated Testing of Pesticides is chaired by Dr. Leonard Ritter, Professor Emeritus of Toxicology in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph, and Executive Director of the Canadian Network of Toxicology Centres. For a complete list of panel members visit the Expert Panel on the Integrated Testing of Pesticides Membership page.

For Further Information, Please Contact:

Cathleen Meechan, Director, Communications, at 613-567-5000 ext. 228 or cathleen.meechan@scienceadvice.ca

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“The 2012 Council report regarding new and integrated approaches to assessing chemicals was highly useful for my work at the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, in helping to identify emerging practices in science-based risk assessments at the international level.

It was written in a clear and accessible manner both for specialists and a more general audience, and it was timely given the challenges many public authorities are facing in conducting risk assessments of new chemical substances such as pesticides.”

Scott Vaughan Former Commissioner of the Environment, 2012