Thousands of new chemicals are developed every week, but concerns are mounting that chemical exposure can lead to a range of sensitivities and diseases.

Authorities are concerned about the effects of chemicals on human health.

In many countries, environmental watchdogs have been pressing companies and governments to keep testing chemicals for their impact on human health and to make sure that harmful chemicals will be phased out.

Just last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ToxCast chemical screening program has awarded contracts to four United States-based companies to test up to 10,000 chemicals for potential toxicity to people and the environment.

ToxCast is designed to determine how chemical exposures affect human health.

When fully implemented, ToxCast will be able to screen thousands of chemicals in fast, cost-effective tests.

The four companies will initially screen up to 1,000 chemicals currently in the ToxCast program using innovative technologies such as stem cell toxicity tests.

These new technologies can quickly determine the potential for a chemical to cause harm to the human body.

Screening results from the new technologies will be combined with data already being generated by the other 500 rapid chemical tests used by EPA’s ToxCast program.

The chemicals ToxCast is now screening are found in industrial and consumer products, food additives and drugs.

ToxCast’s goal is to reduce EPA’s reliance on slow and expensive animal toxicity tests, enabling the agency to screen chemicals more quickly and to predict and identify potential risks to Americans.

EPA scientific studies using ToxCast have already been published in peer-reviewed science journals, and demonstrate the ability of ToxCast to predict a chemical’s potential to cause several diseases.

The four companies awarded the contracts have offices throughout the country and plan to hire new scientific staff to help with the project. The companies are Vala Sciences, Cee Tox, CellzDirect and BioReliance.

Two of the companies, Vala Sciences and BioReliance are small businesses based in San Diego, Calif. and Kalamazoo, Mich.

All four companies plan to hire new employees as a result of these contracts.

More information on ToxCast:  http://epa.gov/ncct/toxcast/
More information on ToxCast database:  http://actor.epa.gov/actor/faces/ToxCastDB/Home.jsp

 

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