National Toxicology Program

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National Toxicology Program
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Agency overview
Parent agency United States Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Child agencies
  • Office of the Report on Carcinogens
  • Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods

The National Toxicology Program (NTP) is an inter-agency program run by the United States Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate, evaluate, and report on toxicology within public agencies. [1]

United States Department of Health and Human Services department of the US federal government

The United States Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), also known as the Health Department, is a cabinet-level department of the U.S. federal government with the goal of protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services. Its motto is "Improving the health, safety, and well-being of America". Before the separate federal Department of Education was created in 1979, it was called the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW).


The National Toxicology Program is headquartered at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). The NIEHS Director, currently Dr. Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., A.T.S., also concurrently serves as NTP Director. [1] The Associate Director of the Program is Dr. John R. Bucher, Ph.D.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) conducts research into the effects of the environment on human disease, as one of the 27 institutes and centers of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Linda Birnbaum American toxicologist

Linda Silber Birnbaum is an American toxicologist, microbiologist and the current director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, as well as the National Toxicology Program, positions to which she was appointed on January 18, 2009. She also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health and as a member of the editorial board of Environment International.

The NIEHS National Toxicology Program's Office of the Report on Carcinogens, directed by Dr. Ruth Lunn, Dr.P.H., is responsible for publishing the Report On Carcinogens; with the current year 2011 Report included, there have been 12 editions. [2]


The program was established in 1978 by Joseph A. Califano, Jr., then the United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (today known as the Secretary of Health and Human Services). The program arose from congressional concerns about the health effects of chemical agents in the environment. In October 1981, Secretary Richard S. Schwiker granted permanent status to the program. [3]

Interagency Center for Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods

The NTP Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM) supports the development and evaluation of new, revised, and alternative methods for chemical safety testing. Alternative methods are methods for safety testing of chemicals and chemical products that use fewer or no animals or that minimize or prevent animal pain and distress. NICEATM is directed by Dr. Warren Casey, PhD, DABT.

Alternatives to animal testing

Alternatives to animal testing are the development and implementation of test methods that avoid the use of live animals.

The NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 [4] directed NIEHS to establish criteria for the validation and regulatory acceptance of alternative test methods and a process for their subsequent implementation. This led to the establishment of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods via the ICCVAM Authorization Act of 2000, [5] which stated that ICCVAM would exist as a permanent interagency committee of NIEHS under NICEATM.

The Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) coordinates U.S. federal government evaluation of new, revised, and alternative test methods. Alternative methods are methods for safety testing of chemicals and chemical products that use fewer or no animals or that minimize or prevent animal pain and distress.

In addition to supporting ICCVAM, NICEATM activities include:

NICEATM publishes results of its analyses of alternative test methods and approaches in the peer-reviewed literature and presents at meetings of the Society of Toxicology and the World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences.

Related Research Articles

Toxicology branch of biology, chemistry, and medicine

Toxicology is a discipline, overlapping with biology, chemistry, pharmacology, and medicine, that involves the study of the adverse effects of chemical substances on living organisms and the practice of diagnosing and treating exposures to toxins and toxicants. The relationship between dose and its effects on the exposed organism is of high significance in toxicology. Factors that influence chemical toxicity include the dosage, route of exposure, species, age, sex, and environment. Toxicologists are experts on poisons and poisoning.

The Draize Test is an acute toxicity test devised in 1944 by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) toxicologists John H. Draize and Jacob M. Spines. Initially used for testing cosmetics, the procedure involves applying 0.5mL or 0.5g of a test substance to the eye or skin of a restrained, conscious animal, and then leaving it for set amount of time before rinsing it out and recording its effects. The animals are observed for up to 14 days for signs of erythema and edema in the skin test, and redness, swelling, discharge, ulceration, hemorrhaging, cloudiness, or blindness in the tested eye. The test subject is commonly an albino rabbit, though other species are used too, including dogs. The animals are euthanized after testing if the test renders irreversible damage to the eye or skin. Animals may be re-used for testing purposes if the product tested causes no permanent damage. Animals are typically reused after a "wash out" period during which all traces of the tested product are allowed to disperse from the test site.

In vitro toxicity testing is the scientific analysis of the effects of toxic chemical substances on cultured bacteria or mammalian cells. In vitro testing methods are employed primarily to identify potentially hazardous chemicals and/or to confirm the lack of certain toxic properties in the early stages of the development of potentially useful new substances such as therapeutic drugs, agricultural chemicals and food additives.

Ethyl carbamate chemical compound

Ethyl carbamate (also called urethane) is an organic compound with the formula CH3CH2OC(O)NH2. It is an ester of carbamic acid. It is a white solid. Despite its name, it is not a component of polyurethanes. Because it is a carcinogen, it is little used, but has been detected in alcoholic beverages.

Toxicogenomics is a subdiscipline of pharmacology that deals with the collection, interpretation, and storage of information about gene and protein activity within a particular cell or tissue of an organism in response to exposure to toxic substances. Toxicogenomics combines toxicology with genomics or other high-throughput molecular profiling technologies such as transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics. Toxicogenomics endeavors to elucidate the molecular mechanisms evolved in the expression of toxicity, and to derive molecular expression patterns that predict toxicity or the genetic susceptibility to it.

International Agency for Research on Cancer Organization

The International Agency for Research on Cancer is an intergovernmental agency forming part of the World Health Organization of the United Nations. Its role is to conduct and coordinate research into the causes of cancer. It also collects and publishes surveillance data regarding the occurrence of cancer worldwide.

David Platt Rall was a cancer specialist and a leader in environmental health studies, whose work in environmental health helped turn it into a scientific discipline. Rall also advanced public health and prevention. He directed the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences from 1971 to 1990, year in which he retired. His work on toxicology and carcinogenesis was recognized by his appointment as the first director of the National Toxicology Program in 1978. He held the rank of Assistant Surgeon General in the United States Public Health Service. He also chaired the World Health Organization's Program on Chemical Safety.

Dimethylamine is an organic compound with the formula (CH3)2NH. This secondary amine is a colorless, flammable gas with an ammonia-like odor. Dimethylamine is commonly encountered commercially as a solution in water at concentrations up to around 40%. In 2005, an estimated 270,000 tons were produced industrially, but it is also found as a natural product.

Retinyl palmitate chemical compound

Retinyl palmitate, or vitamin A palmitate, is the ester of retinol (vitamin A) and palmitic acid, with formula C36H60O2.

Nickel(II) oxide Chemical compound

Nickel(II) oxide is the chemical compound with the formula NiO. It is notable as being the only well-characterized oxide of nickel. The mineralogical form of NiO, bunsenite, is very rare. It is classified as a basic metal oxide. Several million kilograms are produced in varying quality annually, mainly as an intermediate in the production of nickel alloys.

Nickel(II) sulfate chemical compound

Nickel(II) sulfate, or just nickel sulfate, usually refers to the inorganic compound with the formula NiSO4(H2O)6. This highly soluble blue-coloured salt is a common source of the Ni2+ ion for electroplating.

The National Toxicology Program (NTP) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) established the NTP Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction in 1998 as an environmental health resource to the public and regulatory and health agencies. The Center provides evaluations of the potential for adverse effects on reproduction and development caused by chemicals to which humans might be exposed.

The Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) is a toxicology database on the U.S. National Library of Medicine's (NLM) Toxicology Data Network (TOXNET). It focuses on the toxicology of potentially hazardous chemicals, and includes information on human exposure, industrial hygiene, emergency handling procedures, environmental fate, regulatory requirements, and related areas. All data are referenced and derived from a core set of books, government documents, technical reports, and selected primary journal literature. All entries are peer-reviewed by a Scientific Review Panel (SRP), members of which represent a spectrum of professions and interests. Current Chairs of the SRP are Dr. Marcel J. Cassavant, MD, Toxicology Group, and Dr. Roland Everett Langford, PhD, Environmental Fate Group.

The New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS) is a national, registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization “dedicated to ending the use of animals in research, testing, and science education” and replacing them with "modern alternatives that are ethically, humanely, and scientifically superior."

Adverse outcome pathway

An adverse outcome pathway (AOP) is structured representation of biological events leading to adverse effects and is considered relevant to risk assessment. The AOP links in a linear way existing knowledge along one or more series of causally connected key events (KE) between two points — a molecular initiating event (MIE) and an adverse outcome (AO) that occur at a level of biological organization relevant to risk assessment. The linkage between the events is described by key event relationships (KER) that describe the causal relationships between the key events.

Glycidamide chemical compound

Glycidamide is part of the chemical group of amides and oxiranes, it is classified as a carcinogenic substance. It is associated with tobacco either as natural component, pyrolysis product in tobacco smoke or additive for one or more types of tobacco products. Glycidamide is formed from acrylamide. Acrylamide is an industrial chemical which is used in several ways, such as production of polyacrylamides for (waste)water treatment, textile, paper processing and cosmetics. It is also a product formed in certain foods prepared at high temperature frying, baking or roasting, such as fried potatoes, bakery products and coffee. Glycidamide is formed through the reaction of unsaturated fatty acids with oxygen. It is a dangerous substance, since it causes small mutations in cells which can result in several forms of cancer.

Sharkey Landfill

Sharkey Landfill is a 90-acre property located in New Jersey along the Rockaway and Whippany rivers in Parsippany, New Jersey. Landfill operations began in 1945, and continued until September 1972, when large amounts of toluene, benzene, chloroform, dichloroethylene, and methylene chloride were found, all of which have are a hazard to human health causing cancer and organ failure. Sharkey Landfill was put on the National Priority List in 1983, and clean up operations ran until the site was deemed as not a threat in 2004.


  1. 1 2 "Office of the National Toxicology Program". NIEHS. December 13, 2010. Archived from the original on 20 December 2010. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
  2. Report on Carcinogens Archived 2011-06-23 at the Wayback Machine , NIEHS National Toxicology Program
  3. "History of the NTP - National Toxicology Program". National Toxicology Program. Archived from the original on 16 October 2010. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
  4. NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 (P.L. 103-43, codified at 42 U.S.C. 285l-1 and 42 U.S.C. 283e)
  5. ICCVAM Authorization Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-545, codified at 42 U.S.C. 285l-3)