L'Oreal has given $1.2 million to the Environmental Protection Agency to help develop chemical tests which do not involve using animals, the perfume giant and US watchdog announced Monday.
The Paris-based company announced a research collaboration to study if an EPA toxicity testing system called ToxCast -- which screens chemicals for their possible adverse health effects -- can be used more widely.
"Because of the high costs and length of time it takes for animal testing, not all the chemicals in use have been thoroughly evaluated for potential toxicity," said EPA official David Dix.
"ToxCast is able to rapidly screen thousands of chemicals in hundreds of tests and provide results that are relevant to various types of toxicity," said Dix, acting head of the EPA's National Center for Computational Toxicology.
As well as the funding, L'Oreal will provide data about chemicals used in its cosmetics, "expanding the types of chemical use groups assessed by ToxCast," it said.
"EPA will compare the ToxCast results to the L'Oreal data to determine if the reliability and the relevance are appropriate for use in the safety assessment of chemicals in cosmetics," said a joint statement.
Researchers say treatments for diseases such as diabetes and polio were made possible through animal research, noting that animals are currently being used in hepatitis-, HIV- and stem cell-related research, among others.
But animal rights activists continue to bring pressure on laboratories that use animals to develop drugs and vaccines, urging them to stop the practice and use other means to develop the next wonder drug, treatment or cure.
Laurent Attal, executive vice-president L'Oreal Research & Innovation, said: "For more than 30 years, we have invested in Predictive Evaluation for Safety, in other words, animal-free toxicology.
"The ToxCast program from EPA could enrich our testing platforms and help us to predict earlier the safety of substances for our products," he added.
"EPA is pleased to collaborate with L'Oreal in the pursuit of improved methods for chemical testing," said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA's Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest.
"Using state-of-the art methods, we hope to show that products can be proven safe for the consumer without the use of animals."