.. to determine what constitutes a lethal dose of a particular substance. The test spans a time period from two weeks to sever years, depending on the amount of toxic chemicals in the product being tested. The animals are observed daily. Since chemicals are bitter-tasting and have an unpleasant smell, animals refuse to swallow them. The animals are then forced to swallow the substances in the form of capsules or pellets. they are also force-fed liquid chemicals by stomach tube, or through a hole cut in the animal’s throat.
Some animals die from the sheer bulk of the dosage administered or from the severe burns they Albrecht 7 receive in the throat and stomach from the chemicals used in products such as laundry bleach and detergents and cologne. There are variations to this test which include forcing the animal to breathe the substance or applying the substance to the shaved skin of the animal or injecting the substance into the body, usually the abdomen. The animals are not provided with painkillers because they may affect the test outcome. Millions of rats, rabbits, mice and guinea pigs have been used in these tests, which purportedly assure the safety of cosmetics and household products. Many animals are still suffering in these useless tests right now. These tests are crude, cruel, and unreliable.
Animals injured in acute toxicity and eye irritancy tests are never treated. If the animals do not die from the effects of the experiments itself, they are either killed or used for an autopsy, or, if they are not badly injured, recycled and used for additional tests. Since the animals are not treated, these tests provide little useful knowledge for the treatment of humans who are exposed to the harmful substances. Dr. Gil Langley, a scientific neuro-chemist, states that: Results (of animal tests) vary dramatically from laboratory to Albrecht 8 laboratory, between strains, sex, age, and species of animals, and extrapolation to humans in questionable.1 Animal tests have failed to provide the clear definition between harmful and harmless products that they were originally intended to provide.
Therefore, regardless of animal testing, the consumer always becomes the so-called guinea pig for any new product. Alternatives to animal tests are available on todays market. Many companies are working in fierce competition and dozens of alternative are being developed. Newer and more sophisticated tests are gradually replacing the Draize test. These alternatives most often use test-tube, or in-vitro, methods based on the idea that what happens in the body’s individual cells reflects what happens in intact organs such as the eye.
Human cells can be used in such studies. In addition to in-vitro methods, other potential alternatives to the Draize test include tests that use computer programs, microorganisms and other organisms that can’t experience pain, and chemical methods to analyze untested substances. Some of the new tools for assessing eye irritancy are: Neutral Red Assay- Irritants impair healthy cells’ ability to take up neutral red dye. Albrecht 9 This test measures the degree of impairment, yielding an index of irritancy. Agarose Diffusion-Tiny paper discs are coated with a test chemical and placed on a layer of gelatin.
The chemical diffuses through the gelatin and reaches an under layer of healthy cells. A ring of dead cells around the discs indicates irritation. Eytex- In this test kit, a specially formulated chemical mixture turns cloudy when exposed to irritants, mimicking the response of the cornea. Microtox- This test kit contains a bacterium that can emit light. Substances that inhibit this process are irritants. Topkat-A computer program estimates eye irritancy by comparing untested chemicals to similar chemicals of know irritancy. Most of these alternatives are being developed or improved at high-technology companies. Eytex at In Vitro International, Neutral Red Uptake Assay at Clonetics, Microtox at Microbies, and Topkat at Health Designs.
Technical advances to eliminate LD50 testing are also available. More Sophisticated methods, such as in vitro techniques, are the beginning of the move in the right direction. In contrast to in vitro methods which use the whole animal, in vitro methods use only the cells or Albrecht 10 tissue of animals or humans. Animal cells can often be made to grow and divide indefinitely, thus sparing animals lives. When human cells are used ( they are commonly obtained from tissue routinely discarded after surgery), in vitro techniques are completely humane. Tests using human cells are more scientifically relevant than those procedures using whole animals or animal cells or tissue. Other approaches are also being developed, there are computer programs that estimate the LD50 score of an untested substance by comparing its chemical and structural properties to those of similar substances of know toxicity.
Companies can also employ the simple method of selective formulation to avoid D50 testing while more sophisticated alternatives are being developed. Companies employing selective formulation use ingredients with safety profiles that have already been established and thereby avoid the need for any new testing. Clearly, animal testing is almost a thing of the past. But, until every animal is free from commercial testing, we have no time to rest on our laurels. Many companies still say that animal tests are the most likely to hold up in court if a human is injured by a cosmetic or Albrecht 11 household product and, for that reason, they will struggle to hold on to animal-based research.
We need to continue to to find new and improved alternatives so that we may preserve the lives and dignity of animals, but can also ensure the consumer of product safety. Many manufactures such as Avon, Revlon, and Estee Lauder have ceased animal tests. the fact that companies are supporting alternatives and reduce animal usage is a good sign but the fight is clearly not over. This project has educated me to be a more caring consumer and I will use buying power to pressure companies into banning animal testing within the commercial market. I have learned to write to companies that still test products on animals and let them know that I would not be buying their products and urge them to choose alternative instead. We must remember unseen they suffer, unheard they cry, in agony they linger, in loneliness they die.
You can make a difference, you can be their voice.