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Fish Acute Toxicity

Fish acute toxicity tests are used to assess potential risk to fish species and for other ecological regulatory needs associated with surface water contaminants. To meet EPA data requirements the test is typically conducted in three different fish species: a cold-water freshwater species, a warm-water freshwater species, and a marine/estuarine species. NICEATM is working with EPA and other partners to explore reducing animal use for fish acute toxicity testing.

Ecotoxicity testing determines hazard or risk presented to fish and other species by substances that may enter the environment. ICCVAM agency activities to reduce or replace animal use for ecotoxicity testing were discussed at the September 2021 meeting of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Alternative Toxicological Methods.

Curation and Analysis of Testing Data

As noted above, fish acute toxicity testing is conducted using three species per chemical. Thus, each chemical tested can potentially require up to 260 fish. NICEATM and EPA are conducting a retrospective evaluation of existing data to explore the potential for relying on fewer fish species tests to support a protective ecological risk assessment. These study results will be used to determine whether all three species are necessary to assess acute lethal risks to fish, and explore if reduced species testing could be combined with an adjustment factor to ensure that a reduction in the number of species will meet risk protection goals. A poster describing this project (Ceger et al.) was presented at the 11th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences, and a paper is in preparation. Extracted data will be submitted to EPA’s Toxicological Reference Database.