EPA published a draft white paper, New Approach Methodologies (NAMs) in the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP) and is requesting public comment. The white paper was developed pursuant to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act (“FFDCA”), which requires EPA to develop a screening program to determine whether certain substances may have effects in humans that is similar to an effect produced by naturally occurring estrogen or other endocrine effects. The white paper states that some NAMs are acceptable alternatives for certain EDSP Tier 1 assays. Other NAMs may be useful for prioritization purposes and weight of evidence evaluations. The EPA press release discussing the draft white paper states that it will “reinvigorate [EPA’s] efforts to meet its requirement for EDSP screening of chemicals and continue to provide transparency of EDSP Tier 1 testing, which is the step in the EDSP that determines the potential for endocrine-disrupting effects and whether there is a need to obtain more data by requiring additional Tier 2 tests.” Tier 1 screenings are used to identify substances that have the potential to interact with the endocrine system, while Tier 2 screenings are used to identify adverse endocrine-related effects caused by a substance.
Currently, each chemical undergoing ESDP Tier 1 methods can take up to six years, and the cost to the industry of each chemical review is roughly $1 million, due significantly to vertebrate testing. Certain validated NAMs included in the white paper will allow EPA to use alternatives to vertebrate animal testing and other in vitro assays, ultimately allowing the Agency to review chemicals faster, more efficiently, and at a lower cost to the Agency.