Corrected version (see below).
Oregon State University scientists are getting a financial boost for their work with zebrafish to research better ways to test chemicals’ toxic risks to people and the environment.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced this week it is awarding $1.2 million to the university in Corvallis, Ore., to advance chemical safety research.
It’s an issue EarthFix has been exploring this week as part of our series, Clean Water: The Next Act.
In all, the EPA is awarding nearly $11 million to eight universities where researchers are developing models and methods to predict how exposure to chemicals may harm the public.
Oregon State University’s EPA-funded research involves zebrafish testing. Scientists are trying to develop alternatives for existing toxicity tests.
In the grant application, OSU said it planned to expose zebrafish embryos to at least 1,000 chemicals. Then, researchers will study the embryos to look for evidence of developmental toxicity.
According to the EPA, traditional toxicity testing is built on animal-based studies that require relatively large investments in time and resources. In the past, EPA has had to test one chemical at a time, completing only a couple dozen assessments a year.
One of bigger concerns cited by the EPA in its announcement: synthetic chemicals are known as “endrocrine disruptors.” They interfere with or mimic natural hormones and cause damage to the development and function of vital organs. It’s particularly a problem in young children and developing fetuses.
Correction: Sept. 14, 2012. An earlier version of this story repeated an error in an Environmental Protection Agency press release that named the University of Oregon as a funding recipient. Oregon State University is the funding recipient.
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