Policy Statement on the Use of Animals in Toxicology

(Adopted by the American College of Toxicology June, 1988; revised January, 2001)


The American College of Toxicology is committed to advancing the science of toxicology as a means of protecting the health and safety of both people and animals for the preservation of our environment. The College recognizes that the continued use of animals for research is a necessary and critical component in pursuit of this commitment. However, it is the position of the College that when animals are used, careful consideration should be given to selection of the appropriate animal model and study design to address the purpose of the study. In all cases, the College seeks to promote the best possible science and the humane treatment of animals used to advance our understanding of human risk and safety assessment.

Animals should be maintained and utilized in a proper and humane manner and in full conformance with all governing regulations and guidelines. The College subscribes to the concept of the 3R’s (refinement, reduction, and replacement) and supports research to enhance that concept where scientifically valid.

The College further encourages all members to uphold the American College of Toxicology Code of Ethics wherein it states that each member shall uphold all laws, regulations, safety and ethical standards that apply to the welfare of coworkers, experimental procedures in animals, and the environment.

Principles on the Use of Animals in Toxicology

The American College of Toxicology endorses and adopts the following guidelines and principles:

  • International Guiding Principles for Biomedical Research Involving Animals of the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences of the World Health Organization.
  • US Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals Used in Testing, Research and Training of the US Public Health Service.
  • Position Statement Regarding the Use of Animals in Toxicology & Animals in Research Public Policy Statement—Society of Toxicology.
  • All personnel involved in studies using animals shall be knowledgeable and skilled in the procedures to be used and trained in the humane care and use of animals in compliance with all applicable animal welfare laws. Studies should be designed to attain maximum information, including biological and toxicological data, using the least number of animals with due regard for minimizing pain or distress. For example, pilot studies conducted with small numbers of animals may eliminate the need for further studies or result in information leading to optimized study designs requiring fewer animal numbers.
  • Primary responsibility for the care and handling of animals shall be under the direction of a veterinarian knowledgeable in the area. The veterinarian shall intervene in a study to provide appropriate treatment to minimize pain and discomfort. When surgical procedures are necessary, the investigator and veterinarian shall work together to assure appropriate technique is used and that anesthetics and postoperative analgesia are appropriate for the species used. When meaningful scientific data can no longer be obtained from an animal, euthanasia, appropriate for the species, shall be implemented according to current guidelines.
  • Protocols involving the use of animals should be reviewed by a committee (i.e., Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)) to assure compliance with all applicable animal welfare laws.
  • The investigator shall make all efforts to prevent the repetition of any study resulting from inadequate planning, inappropriate species or diet, disease, or other environmental variables.
  • Refinements to such tests as the limit test, up-down test, low-volume test, or range finding should be used when appropriate. Skin testing should precede eye testing in order to guide the approach to (or necessity of) eye testing.
  • A proactive effort should be made to develop and validate alternative tests designed to reduce, replace, or refine animal testing.