§ Mr. Cohen
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will seek powers to permit the Health and Safety Commission to include in the test guidelines associated with the notification of new substances regulations, a requirement that in vitro alternatives to living animals are used to determine eye irritancy, particularly with reference to known or suspected severe irritants; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
The notification of New Substances Regulations 1982 implement in Great Britain the notification reqirements of European Commission directive 79/831/EEC and lay down a regime for the testing prior to marketing of new chemical substances so as to permit an assessment to be made of the risks to man and the environment. The test methods to be used are given in EC directive 79/831/EEC and detailed in EC directive 84/449/EEC. The eye test specified there is one of a set of test guidelines drawn up by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and agreed internationally.
An in vitro test for eye irritancy is currently being evaluated by the OECD. If such a test is found to be acceptable, the United Kingdom will seek a change in the European requirements which may then be carried forward into United Kingdom legislation.
Where possible, for example where the substance is known to be irritant by virtue of it corrosive nature or has 520W been shown to be a skin irritant, the test guidelines accompanying the regulations already make it clear that an eye test on living animals may be omitted.