Animal Testing and Research in the United States: The Environmental ConsiderationsAP Seminar 2018Word Count: 913IntroductionAnimals have long since been used for chemical, cosmetic, medical purposes in assorted product sectors. Every year, millions of animals are bred to be used and discarded of like other large-scale uses of animals such as the farm animal industry, which raises and slaughters more than 50 billion land animals every year, this large number of animals used and disposed of in research and testing raises major concerns about the overall environmental impact of using animals in this capacity. According to a report published by the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (2014), “Animal research and testing uses more than 100 million animals every year, contributing to air, water, and soil pollution, public health concerns, and biodiversity concerns.” Thus, an alternative, the three-dimensional human skin equivalent systems such as SkinEthic have been created to replace animal testing in the cosmetic field. However, many experts question the reliability of this newly created method.
(Judson, 2006). Therefore, animal testing and research has long been a controversial topic of heated discussion amongst the field of cosmetics and biomedical studies. (Putney, 2008) As there are only few specific studies on the environmental consequences of animal use in laboratory research, evidence indicates that the use and disposal of animals contributes to pollution and has negative impacts on biodiversity. Awareness of the environmental impacts in animal testing is crucial to thoroughly examine the use of animals in research and testing, and to utilize non-animal testing methods whenever available. Environmental PollutionWater ContaminationRunoff of animal waste related to drug testing sometimes results in ground water contamination. (Manila Bulletin 2010).
Animal waste containing drugs and chemical solvents may have unknown toxicities because of their experimental nature which heightens the growing issue of potentially hazardous drugs in public water supplies. Public drinking water supplies are contaminated by animal testing because public water treatment facilities are not equipped to filter inorganic substances in wastewater. These potential toxins may then be carried into surface water and public drinking water supplies.
(Laws, 2000) Additionally, there are related concerning biological consequences for aquatic animals including food source destruction, reduced metabolism and gill disease. In addition to potentially critical health effects for humans from the presence of pollutants in lakes, rivers, streams, and especially in drinking water. Air PollutionAir pollution is produced by the emission of gases resulting from incineration of animal carcasses and laboratory supplies such as animal bedding and syringes that may contain experimental chemicals, drugs, and other toxins. The resulting release of toxic substances is due to processes common to all industries as well as to toxins specifically produced by incineration of animal carcasses. Incineration is a process which releases toxic wastes containing mercury, lead, and other harmful substances into the air as waste is burned. Thus, this process emits air pollution to produce toxic ashes, and to contaminate vegetation and air quality.
Also, incineration is an environmental concern due to the fuel consumption used in order to maintain required temperatures, the disposal of ash from landfills, and resulting air pollution. Environmental groups have concluded that incineration is not environmentally safe for either humans or wildlife. Laboratory Waste Millions of laboratory animals are disposed of every year after animal research and testing. Industries which require animals for testing also discard significant amounts of chemical and toxic waste including excrement, excess feed, syringes, caging, and needles.
In addition, these animal research facilities routinely emit multiple polluting substances, including reactive and toxic wastes, and air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. Another environmental concern the disposal of biological waste. Waste that is chemically and hazardous is difficult to dispose of and few waste facilities can manage them.
(Neavs, 2018) Carcass disposal methods include rendering, landfill disposal, and incineration. Incineration is the preferred method for managing radioactive animal carcasses and tissue, the method recommended by OLAW (The Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare)for disposal of contaminated feed and bedding, and the most common disposal method for U.S. laboratories. Many facilities maintain incinerators on their property, while other facilities contract with commercial disposal companies. Impacts on Wildlife and BiodiversityLaboratory Animals Captured from the Wild We are in an era of unprecedented threats to biodiversity. According to New England Anti-Vivisection Society the loss of species in 2014 is estimated to be 50 to 500 times higher than the natural background rates found in fossil records. Tens of thousands of monkeys have been captured from the wild and transported to research facilities in the U.
S. and other countries over the past decades. Animals are exposed to conditions of overcrowding, extreme temperatures, and unsanitary conditions. In these conditions, animal diseases are common, resulting in ideal conditions for viruses and bacteria to multiply. This alarming fact raises not only animal welfare concerns but also population and biodiversity concerns.
ConclusionIn conclusion, data on the environmental impacts of animal testing and research is highly limited thus it is difficult to determine whether there is any alternative which can fully replace animal testing. Non-animal testing and research save laboratory animals from unnecessary pain and cruelty commonly associated laboratory testing and research. (Animal Ethics, 2018). But Although alternative testing methods which do not involve testing laboratory animals have been created, there are some experiments which require the use of live animals. However, due to all of the above reasons, product industries and other sectors which consider the use of laboratory animals in research should review the full impacts on the environment before deciding whether a non-animal testing method can be used when available. (The Journal, 2006).
References Animal Ethics. “Animal experimentation for environmentalist purposes”(2018). Retrieved January, 15, 2018 at: http://www.animal-ethics.org/animal-exploitation-section/animal-experimentation-introduction/animal-experimentation-environmentalist-purposes/Groff K., Bachli E.
, Lansdowne M.,& Capaldo T. (2014). New England Anti-Vivisection Society, Review of Evidence of Environmental Impacts of Animal Research and Testing. ( Retrieved January, 15, 2018 at: http://www.neavs.
org/docs/NEAVS-New_England_Anti-Vivisection_Society-Environments_2014-Environmental_Impacts_and_Testing_of_Animal_Research.pdfJudson, Karen. Animal Testing. (2016). New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 114, Retrieved January, 14, 2018 at: http://www.
questiaschool.com/read/117746386/animal-testing.Laws, Edward. (2000) Aquatic Pollution: An Introductory Text, 3rd ed. New York: Wiley, 567. Retrieved January, 16, 2018 at:http://www.
“Animal Research is Hazardous Waste” (2018). Retrieved January, 15, 2018 at: https://www.neavs.org/campaigns/environment”The Monday Question: Is Animal Testing Acceptable for Medical Research?” The Journal (Newcastle, England), May 15, 2006, Retrieved January, 16, 2018 at: http://www.questiaschool.
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