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Ethical and cost effective alternatives for direct toxicity assessments

Project Number # 1107

Development of a suite of cell-based bioassays for more ethical and cost-effective direct toxicity assessment of wastewaters

Industries that discharge wastewater into receiving aquatic environments are often required to perform direct toxicity assessment (DTA) of their discharges. This usually involves exposing live aquatic animals to discharge water, and measuring responses such as development, reproduction and survival. However, these assays have ethical considerations, long exposure times (4-10 days), are dependent on animals being available (either from lab cultures or field collection), and are expensive to run. Cell-based assays provide an ethical alternative to live animal testing that are high throughput, cost-effective, indicative of live animal responses, and readily available once established in a laboratory. However, the links between cell-based responses and whole animal effects have not been fully demonstrated, and the guidelines for the derivation of guideline values for ecosystem protection do not currently recommend the use of cell-based assays. In collaboration with regulators and industry, this study will develop a suite of cell-based bioassays for testing water toxicity that are accepted by the environmental regulators.