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OECD in vitro method for bioaccumulation assessment

Molecules should not harm the environment and so screening is needed to weed out potentially dangerous substances: assessing the characteristics of persistence (linked to biodegradability), bioaccumulation in the fish’s fatty tissues and toxicity is an integral part of chemical legislation.


Therefore, another research project aims to find a better way to ensure that fragrance ingredients are safe for the environment. With our latest bioaccumulation testing validated by the OECD in 2018, we are leading the fragrance industry with new non-animal testing alternatives for bioaccumulation assessment.

Bioaccumulation occurs when molecules are taken up by fish and accumulate in the fish’s fatty tissues. We have to make sure our molecules are not enriched in fish, so that they do not enter the animal food chain. Traditionally, this question has been addressed through fish bioaccumulation studies which require however a large number of animals.

Our researchers were interested then in whether it was possible to predict fish bioaccumulation with real accuracy by testing fish cells or enzymes as alternative test. They developed a method that puts fish liver cells or fish enzymes in contact with fragrance molecules, and measures the decrease of the molecule. This test allows to evaluate whether the molecule is highly metabolised indicating a lower risk of bioaccumulation in fish.

The approach therefore replaces animal testing which used living fish and is predictive: higher metabolism of the molecule means lower risk of bioaccumulation in fish. It is routinely used to develop non-bioaccumulative new molecules as part of Givaudan’s Safe by Design™ strategy.

These innovative test methods on fragrance molecules provide multiple benefits: removing the need for testing on animals, ensuring safety for use on human skin, and protecting aquatic species and the environment. For customers, particularly in the cosmetics industry, this means that products can be brought quicker to market, with the assurance that the ultimate beneficiary is the consumer.