Updates from the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT)
October 7, 2021

News and Updates from CAAT


Beyond Cholinesterase Inhibition: Developmental Neurotoxicity of Organophosphate Ester Flame Retardants and Plasticizers

Heather B. Patisaul, Mamta Behl, Linda S. Birnbaum, Arlene Blum, Miriam L. Diamond, Seth Rojello Fernández, Helena T. Hogberg, Carol F. Kwiatkowski, Jamie D. Page, Anna Soehl, and Heather M. Stapleton

Common Chemicals in Electronics and Baby Products Harm Brain Development

BERKELEY, Calif.—Chemicals increasingly used as flame retardants and plasticizers pose a larger risk to children’s brain development than previously thought, according to a commentary published today in Environmental Health Perspectives. The research team reviewed dozens of human, animal, and cell-based studies and concluded that exposure to even low levels of the chemicals—called organophosphate esters—may harm IQ, attention, and memory in children in ways not yet looked at by regulators.
The neurotoxicity of organophosphate esters used as nerve agents and pesticides is widely recognized, but the neurotoxicity of those used as flame retardants and plasticizers has been assumed to be low. As a result, they are widely used as replacements for some phased-out or banned halogenated flame retardants in electronics, car seats and other baby products, furniture, and building materials. However, the authors’ analysis revealed that these chemicals are also neurotoxic, but through different mechanisms of action.
“The use of organophosphate esters in everything from TVs to car seats has proliferated under the false assumption that they’re safe,” said Heather Patisaul, lead author and neuroendocrinologist at North Carolina State University. “Unfortunately, these chemicals appear to be just as harmful as the chemicals they’re intended to replace but act by a different mechanism.”
Organophosphate esters continuously migrate out of products into air and dust. Contaminated dust gets on our hands and is then inadvertently ingested when we eat. That’s why these chemicals have been detected in virtually everyone tested. Children are particularly exposed from hand-to-mouth behavior. Babies and young children consequently have much higher concentrations of these chemicals in their bodies during the most vulnerable windows of brain development.
“Organophosphate esters threaten the brain development of a whole generation,” said co-author and retired NIEHS Director Linda Birnbaum. “If we don’t stem their use now, the consequences will be grave and irreversible.”
The authors call for a stop to unnecessary uses of all organophosphate esters. This includes their use as flame retardants to meet ineffective flammability standards in consumer products, vehicles, and building materials.
For uses where organophosphate esters are deemed essential, the authors recommend governments and industry conduct alternatives assessments and make investments in innovative solutions without harmful chemicals.
“Organophosphate esters in many products serve no essential function while posing a serious risk, especially to our children,” said Carol Kwiatkowski, co-author and Science and Policy Senior Associate at the Green Science Policy Institute. “It’s urgent that product manufacturers critically reevaluate the uses of organophosphate ester flame retardants and plasticizers—many may be doing more harm than good.”

Find the full article here:


DEADLINE OCTOBER 21, 2021 (11:59 pm EST)

In preparation of the first MPS World Summit, we are meeting on-line on December 9th to discuss the advances in MPS technology. 
Registration is open! Click here to register.


Theme: Systems engineering of Microphysiological Systems
Abstracts are invited on the topic of new developments in MPS: new cellular models (from bio-printing to organoids, etc.) and new approaches in bioengineering of MPS devices.
Describe your newest developments: breakthroughs, advantages, challenges and the field of applications. The top abstracts will be selected for oral presentations in one of two sessions: (1) MPS hardware and enabling technologies; (2) Cell models and applications for MPS.

All accepted abstracts will be invited for an electronic poster. There is no submission fee and no conference registration fee. 
Abstract submission guidelines:
• Abstracts must be in English.
• All abstracts will be evaluated and selected by the MPS Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC).
• Please limit abstracts to 300 words.
• References must be cited in the text as (First author et al., Year).
• Pictures, figures, attachments are not permitted - text only.
• Please submit abstract as Word document.
• Include no more than five references.
• All abstracts accepted will be published in an abstract/poster book (PDF) and distributed digitally to all registered attendees.
• Young scientists (35 or under) can apply for consideration for the Travel Award (free registration at the upcoming hybrid meeting in New Orleans), to be held May 30 - June 3, 2022. Please note in the e-mail if you wish to be considered for the Travel Award for young scientists
E-mail abstracts to:

Please note “Abstract” in the subject field. 
Applicants will be informed of acceptance/non-acceptance by November 25, 2021
Taken from M. Turner (2012) Call to curb lab tests on dogs. Nature 474, 551 reporting on CAAT’s 2012 workshop.

Challenges and Opportunities for Overcoming Dog Use in Agro-chemical Evaluation and Registration

October 25th
10 am – 1 pm EST

The 90-day dog study is being conducted for agro-chemical authorization when it is not always needed to adequately address hazard identification and human safety and risk. This virtual workshop will host a series of presentations on the role the dog study has played in regulation of agro-chemicals in both the U.S. and Europe during the past 20 years and what approaches may be employed to substantially reduce its use. The public will have the opportunity to submit comments and questions to be discussed during the following invitation-only workshop.

Humane Society of the US: Analysis of Dog Data from US Pesticide Registrations
Title: The value of the 90-day dog study in pesticide registration toxicity testing in the U.S.
Authors: Patricia L. Bishop (The Humane Society of the United States), Douglas C. Wolf (Syngenta Crop Protection), and Vicki Dellarco (Independent Consultant)

European Food Safety Authority – Analysis of Dog Data from European Pesticide Registrations
Title: Incorporating toxicokinetic and toxicity data to evaluate the value added from using dogs in subchronic toxicity testing for agrochemicals
Authors: Lynea Murphy (Corteva AgriScience), Robert Mingoia (Corteva AgriScience), Cecilia Tan (US EPA), Jean Domoradzki (US EPA), and Claire Terry (Corteva AgriScience)

Organizing Committee: 
Remi Bars BAYER
Patricia Bishop  HSUS
Kathleen  Conlee  HSUS
Suzie  Fitzpatrick  FDA
Thomas Hartung  JHU
Barry Hooberman FDA
Jang  Kyung-Jin EMULATE
Anna Lowit EPA
Lynea  Murphy CORTEVA
Martina Panzarea EFSA
Martin Stephens JHU
Cecilia Tan EPA
Andrea Terron   EFSA
Claire Terry  CORTEVA
Bennard  van Ravenzwaay BASF
Doug Wolf    SYNGENTA


Next Generation Humane Science Award:

Extended deadline! Completed Applications
Due by 11:59pm EST on October 24, 2021

The Next Generation Humane Science Award is available annually to young scientists to acknowledge and encourage researchers who focus on replacing the use of animals in experiments. The 2021 award will be a prize of up to $5,000 to recognize the work of one young scientist; this may be shared among two or more young scientists. Please email completed application to

Qualification Criteria

The work must be focused on the replacement of animals used in experimentation. Excellence of research outcome as demonstrated by publications and presentations at scientific meetings. The review committee will also take into account:
  • The significance of the potential to replace animal experiments in the future.
  • Providing an inspiration to others (fellow students, members of the research group) and outreach to wider audiences.
  • The potential for the replacement methodologies to be used in a regulatory context.

2021 Eligibility Criteria

  • The candidate must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States working at a US-based institution.
  • The candidate should not have received a PhD or similar degree earlier than 2012.
  • Current and former employees (or their family members) of the Center of Alternatives to Animal Testing at Johns Hopkins University cannot apply.
Full Details and Application
Please join us Thursday, October 21st for the next in our Joint ASCCT/ESTIV webinar series: EU REACH Regulation, EU Cosmetic Regulation, and new animal tests on cosmetic ingredients, featuring Costanza Rovida, CAAT-Europe/Konstanz University and Jean Knight, White Rabbit Beauty. Registration is now open!

EU REACH Regulation, EU Cosmetic Regulation, and new animal tests on cosmetic ingredients
EU Regulations are legislative acts that are immediately implemented in all 27 member states of the European Union. REACH is the most important regulation in the chemical area, requiring all manufacturers and importers of chemicals in quantities above 1 ton/year to register the substances. The registration includes a detailed risk assessment, often based on new animal testing. Cosmetic ingredients are chemical substances that need full REACH registration. In addition to that, cosmetic ingredients are governed by the EU’s Cosmetic Regulation, which is focused on the protection of consumers when using cosmetics. Since 2009 for some endpoints and 2013 as a general rule, the Cosmetic Regulation has banned new in vivo tests of both finished cosmetics and cosmetic ingredients. This important ban has caused consumers to believe that EU cosmetics are not tested on animals. In a recent study, we demonstrated that this is not fully true, as many cosmetic ingredients are being tested in vivo for REACH purposes (

During the presentation we will describe both regulations and we will guide participants through the database of the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) where all the studies performed for registering chemical substances are stored. We will also explain the conflict between the two regulations regarding the possibility to test cosmetic ingredients on animals, by presenting the results of our analysis. Among the in new in vivo tests performed on cosmetic ingredients, some were necessary for REACH compliance, but others should have been avoided. The future is not bright with many more new tests asked by the authority to the registrants.

Best Wishes,

The CAAT Team


hand holding centrifuge tubes

Upcoming Events

ASCCT Annual Meeting
October 12-14

Advances in Cell and Tissue Culture 2021 Virtual Conference
Part 2: November 3, 2021

EU-ToxRisk Final Symposium
November 3-4, 2021
Brussels, Belgium

EBTC 10th Anniversary Symposium
November 11, 2021

Altertox: Skin Sensitization
25-26 November 2021
Hamburg, Germany

MPS World Summit Virtual Conference
Systems Engineering of Microphysiological Systems
December 9, 2021

Microphysiological Systems World Summit
May 30-June 3, 2022
New Orleans

June 13-14, 2022
Nice, France 

ICT 2022
September 18-22, 2022
Maastricht, The Netherlands

21st International Congress of the European Society of Toxicology In Vitro (ESTIV2020)
November 21-25, 2022

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