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Chemistry International
Vol. 23, No. 4
July 2001

Long-Range Research Initiative (LRI) of the American Chemistry Council

Carol J. Henry and James S. Bus

Summary
Introduction
Development of the Long-Range Research Initiative
Technical Implementation Panels
Operating Principles
Selected Examples of Ongoing Projects
Alternative Bioassays
Conclusions

Summary

In January 1999, the chemical industry committed over $100 million for a five-year period to sponsor health and environmental research related to chemical use. The Long-Range Research Initiative (LRI) is a visionary program of the American Chemistry Council designed to increase knowledge about the potential and actual effects of chemicals on the health of human and wildlife populations and on the environment. The objectives of the LRI are to conduct new research through prominent scientific institutions; develop new testing and screening tools to support risk assessment; and support informed decision- making by government, industry, and citizens. CIIT will conduct much of the LRI research in its areas of expertise - chemical carcinogenesis; endocrine, reproductive, and developmental toxicology; neurotoxicology; and respiratory toxicology.

Introduction

In January 1999, the Board of Directors of the American Chemistry Council approved the LRI, which committed over $100 million for the next five years to sponsor research on the health and environmental effects of chemical use. The LRI represents an expanded commitment to Responsible Care ® , the industry’s voluntary continuous improvement initiative in health, safety, and environmental performance. The American Chemistry Council research initiative builds on the foundation of and approach to research conducted at CIIT. Research supported by the LRI will advance knowledge about the health, safety, and environmental effects of products and processes. The LRI has a number of functions:

  • identifying emerging health and environmental issues
  • aligning industry research efforts with public priorities
  • developing improved risk assessment methods to support informed regulatory policies
  • participating in global processes to demonstrate that the chemical industry is a partner in solving health and environmental problems
  • reducing uncertainty in risk assessment and improving risk-based decision-making
  • reinforcing the industry commitment to openly providing information about chemicals and potential health and environmental effects
  • establishing a leadership position through proactive research

Development of the Long-Range Research Initiative (LRI)

Members of the Chemical Manufacturers Association voted in June 2000 to change the name of the organization to the American Chemistry Council to reflect the significant business changes occurring in industry. Among these changes in industry are expanded commitments to research and testing; improved performance in environment, health, and safety; and innovations in outreach, dialogue, and advocacy. Within the last two years, the industry has demonstrated this commitment in several ways.

We have worked with the not-for-profit environmental advocacy organization Environmental Defense and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) to create a high-production-volume (HPV) testing program that will result in the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars to conduct screening tests and to make the resulting data fully available to the public. A similar program implemented by industry at the global level will go one step further and provide initial hazard assessments for 1 000 HPV chemicals by 2004. We have created the Long-Range Research Initiative (LRI), which strengthens industry’s commitment to Responsible Care. We celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the award-winning Responsible Care initia tive and made a commitment to continuous progress toward the vision of "no accidents, injuries, or harm to the environment." The industry has also expanded joint advocacy efforts with environmental groups on such issues as endocrine modulation.

The LRI is an expanded commitment drawing directly from Responsible Care that is designed to increase knowledge of the potential effects of chemicals on the health of human and wildlife populations and on the environment. LRI goals are to conduct research through CIIT and other prominent institutions; to develop new testing and screening tools to support risk assessment; and to support informed decision-making by government, industry, and citizens. For almost 25 years, 30-40 companies from the chemical industry have supported CIIT. Through the LRI, support for CIIT is being enhanced and consolidated into sponsorship by the entire membership of nearly 200 companies of the American Chemistry Council. Approximately 60% of funds from the LRI will be used to support the research at CIIT.

Table 1 Some of the strategic questions underlying the Long-Range Research Initiative (LRI).

Are children more susceptible to given chemical exposures and effects than adults,thereby necessitating greater chemical control measures?

What models or methods can be developed to assess human and environmental exposures to chemicals more accurately?

Which animal models or test methods are most relevant for predicting effects on human health from exposures to chemicals?

Are the high-dose effects seen in animal studies relevant to people who are exposed to low doses?

How do we incorporate new scientific advances into our understanding of the potential effects that chemicals may have on humans and the environment?

How do we reduce the scientific uncertainties that can lead to overly conservative regulations?

What risk assessment processes can be developed that would be more readily understood and trusted by the public?

 

The LRI was developed from a pilot program called the State of the Science Study that was conducted in 1997 (described in "The Chemical Industry’s Research Initiative and the State of the Science Study," CIIT Activities, 1-6 June 1998). Research priorities were identified in the State of the Science White Papers published in January 1998 by the Chemical Manufacturers Association (now the American Chemistry Council) and CIIT. This document was produced through a collaborative effort with scientists from government, academia, and industry. The strategic questions identified by these diverse collaborators underlie the LRI (Table 1). LRI funding for fiscal year 2000 by scientific area is shown in Figure 1.

[More]

This article was contributed by Dr. Carol J. Henry (American Chemistry Council, Arlington, Virginia, USA) and Dr. James S. Bus (The Dow Chemical Company, Midland, Michigan, USA). This article was originally published in CIIT Activities, Vol. 20, No. 7, pp. 1-5, 2000, and is reprinted with permission from the CIIT Centers for Health Research (formerly the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology).

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