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EFSA publishes scientific report on the biological relevance of the effects observed in studies with amphibians and reptiles

On 19 July 2017 EFSA published the following scientific report: ‘Biological relevance of the magnitude of effects (considering mortality, sub-lethal and reproductive effects) observed in studies with amphibians and reptiles in view of population level impacts on amphibians and reptiles’.

Amphibians and reptiles have not been specifically considered in the environmental risk assessment of pesticides, thus generating debate about whether or not the risks to these animals are covered by surrogates such as fish, mammals and birds. Information has therefore been gathered in order to address this question. The report presents a review of scientific literature providing toxicity data on amphibians and reptiles which has been conducted in order to:

  1. Identify the most sensitive amphibian and reptile life stages to chemical pollution
  2. Identify the most sensitive endpoints so that extrapolation factors from laboratory studies to field data can be estimated
  3. Compare endpoints from amphibians and reptiles with the available information from fish, birds and mammals in order to assess whether or not these taxa are valid surrogates for amphibians and reptiles

The results of the review suggest that fish-generated toxicity data seem to be appropriate to cover aquatic amphibians, i.e. fish are generally more sensitive than amphibians to waterborne pollutants. However, in the terrestrial environment there was no correlation in the toxicity indicators between amphibians or reptiles and birds or mammals thus indicating that homeothermic vertebrates are not suitable surrogates for toxicity to amphibians or reptiles.

This review highlights the lack of toxicity information for reptiles, terrestrial amphibians and, to a lesser extent, aquatic amphibians. Recommendations are provided about further research needs and possibilities to adapt current risk assessment approaches in order to protect amphibians and reptiles whilst minimizing additional vertebrate testing.

The complete report can be found on the EFSA website:

For advice on risk assessment and further information on the registration of plant protection products, biocides or general chemicals, or any other regulatory issues, please contact JSC on +44 (0)1423 520245,

Published 1st September 2017
Categories Agrochemicals, Links, News
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