Testing chemicals

A collection of about 100 of the most relevant internationally agreed chemical testing methods used by government, industry and independent laboratories are now available free online.
The OECD Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals, adopted in 1981, had been available by subscription only, but now the key reference tool can be accessed without charge on the OECD public website. The move follows implementation of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), adopted in 2006, which calls for instruments needed for chemicals management to be made globally available at no cost to the user.The OECD guidelines are a tool for assessing the human health and environmental effects of chemicals, as well as their physical properties and environmental behavior before they are sold to the public. Testing for safety involves looking at a variety of factors, such as water solubility, thermal stability, boiling point, biodegradability, melting range or dermal toxicity. A chemical may also be tested for whether it is biodegradable in seawater, for instance.The guidelines have a practical business side, since countries that have signed on to the OECD’s system of Mutual Acceptance of Data must accept test data developed in other countries using these guidelines. This saves governments and industry an estimated €60 million annually by helping them to meet trade requirements and avoid duplicative testing. OECD Observer N°260, March 2007

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