OECD Guidelines

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international forum of countries founded in 1961, is committed to democracy and the market economy, providing a setting to compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practices, and co-ordinate domestic and international policies. Its mandate covers economic, environmental, and social issues.

This organization defines a set of internationally accepted specifications for the testing of chemicals, the OECD Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals. These guidelines, which were first published in 1981, are a collection of test methods used by government, industry and independent laboratories to identify and characterize potential hazards of chemicals on human health and the environment. They are a set of tools for professionals, used primarily in regulatory safety testing and subsequent chemical and chemical product notification, chemical registration and in chemical evaluation. They can also be used for the selection and ranking of candidate chemicals during the development of new chemicals and products and in toxicology research. The set of test guidelines is updated on a regular basis to keep pace with progress in science and countries’ changing regulatory needs. They are split into five sections:

  • Section 1: Physical chemical properties
  • Section 2: Effects on biotic systems
  • Section 3: Degradation and accumulation
  • Section 4: Health effects
  • Section 5: Other test guidelines

The nearly 70 test guidelines available in Section 4 on health effects and approximately the same number of related documents published in the testing and assessment series have been organized by hazard type:

  • Acute toxicity
  • Skin
  • Eye irritation/corrosion
  • Carcinogenicity
  • Reproductive toxicity
  • Specific target organ toxicity/repeated exposure
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Genotoxicity: as an initial screen for genotoxic activity, the OECD Guidelines include the bacterial reverse mutation test also called Ames test. An extensive data base has demonstrated that many chemicals that are positive in this test also exhibit mutagenic activity in other tests. To learn more about Test No. 471, the bacterial reverse mutation test, please click here.

To read more about international regulation for product testing and registration, please click here and visit our links to online resources.