Paper on Animal Testing

This essay has a total of 1492 words and 8 pages.

Animal Testing




Considering the furor raised about using animals for testing, are there alternatives to
using such testing? What are the main tests that use animals and alternatives that would
achieve similar results? There is a lot of controversy about using animals to test
cosmetics. Animal rights organizations feel that it is unnecessary and uncalled for. The
Food and Drug Administration have no law that cosmetics have to be tested on animals. The
main reason cosmetic companies continue to use animals to test their products instead of
the alternatives is because they are afraid of getting laws suites. The alternatives to
animal testing have not yet been validated, therefore if they were taken to court they may
not win the case if these alternatives were used. If companies would recognize the
consistency and validity of these products then maybe animal testing will not be needed.
Two of the main tests that companies use are the Draize Test and the Irritancy Test.
These tests are not needed because there are other tests that don't use animals and give
the same if not better results.

The Draize Test is used to measure the harmfulness of the ingredients that are in
cosmetics and household products. The test involves dripping the substance into a
rabbit's eye and recording the results. Scientists use rabbits because they have large
eyes and no tear ducts to wash away the chemical. Reactions vary from slight irritation
to ulceration and complete blindness. The rabbits are restrained to keep from clawing
their eyes. All of the animals are usually killed at the end of the test, or "recycled"
into toxicity tests. R. Sharpe writes in his book, The Cruel Deception: The Use of
Animals in Medical Research, the Draize Test should not be used because there are a number
of differences between the human eye and the rabbit eye. Rabbits have a third eyelid,
they have less tear fluid to wash away irritants, they have a more alkaline eye (humans
have a pH of 7.1-7.3, rabbits have a pH of 8.2), and rabbits have a thinner cornea.
Overall the Draize Test overestimates how irritating a product is to the human eye because
rabbits eyes are more sensitive than the human eye (Freeberg). This test is also invalid
because of the differences in the way the damage is evaluated. In a study performed by
Carnegie University of Pittsburgh twelve substances were sent to twenty-four different
laboratories. The results that came back for the same substances ranged from mild to
severe reactions. Since the test itself is so unreliable companies should look into some
alternatives.

An alternative to using animals to test how harmful an ingredient is to the eye is a
method called Eytex. Eytex uses a vegetable protein taken from jack beans. This clear
protein gel turns clear when it comes in contact with irritating substances. This process
is more accurate than the Draize Test is because the "damage" is measured by a
spectrophotometer and not estimated by a person. The Eytex Test agrees well with the
Draize Test, although the results should be compared to human eye irritation. Until
better methods come along this test could be used instead of animals. Here are some
comparisons of the Eytex Test to the Draize Test:

% Agreement %Irritants Substances
85% 89% 101
80% 100% 465
The second column shows how closely related Eytex results agreed with Draize Test results,
the third column shows what percentage of irritants were identified by Eytex, and the last
column shows the number of substances were tested. There is also close agreement between
laboratories on the results. One study showed 90% agreement between six different
laboratories and ten substances (Kelly). Another study sent sixty substances to twelve
different laboratories. In nine of thirteen categories of substances there was 100%
agreement between the laboratories. There was 83%-93% agreement between the other four
categories (Kelly). This shows that there is more agreement between laboratories in the
Eytex Test than the Draize Test.

Another type of test that is used to establish the irritancy of a product is the Skin
Irritancy Test. This test measures how a substance irritates the skin. Patches are
shaved off the backs of rabbits and slightly abraded to make them more sensitive. The
substance is placed on the bare skin and covered with gauze for four hours. Researchers
look for signs of redness, inflammation, weeping or scabs (Animal Liberation). These
tests have been shown to be invalid. In one study household products were tested on
rabbits, guinea pigs and humans. Only four of the substances were non-irritating to all
of the subjects. Twelve were more irritating in one or more of the species and three were
less irritating in one or both of the animals than in humans (Nixon). In another study
twelve substances were tested on human and rabbit skin, the results were similar only for
the two most irritating substances. The remaining ten were irritating to the rabbits but
not the humans (Phillips). This shows that rabbits' skin is also more sensitive than
humans.

There are a number of alternatives to this test. They include reconstructed human
epidermis, the Microphisometer, and computer modeling. Reconstructed human epidermis is a
multi-layered human skin grown in the laboratory and can be used to test skin irritancy.
There are different ways to measure the damage an irritating substance causes. Cells can
be examined under a microscope, membrane damage can be assessed by leakage of enzymes, or
inflammation can be determined by release of interleukins (Animal Liberation). Whichever
method is used, the results can be measured accurately, unlike the skin irritancy tests
done on animals where observers estimate the degree of swelling or redness. Results from
this test have so far agreed well with animal studies, although ideally they should be
compared to human information (Ponec). The microphysiometer is an instrument that detects
small changes in the pH of the pH of the cell culture nutrient fluid (changes in lactate,
CO2 production). When the microphysiometer measured how munch of a product it took to
depress the metabolic rate of human skin by 50% there was very good agreement with animal
tests as shown in the table below (Parce).

Continues for 4 more pages >>




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