Physicians, Animal Protection Groups Laud Passage of Bill to Modernize Hazardous Waste with Alternatives to Live Fish Testing

AB 733 directs Department of Toxic Substance Control to implement
modern methods

SACRAMENTO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The California Assembly has just unanimously passed Assembly Bill 733,
authored by Asm. Bill Quirk. The Physicians Committee for Responsible
Medicine and Social Compassion in Legislation co-sponsored the bill,
which could save tens of thousands of fish a year.

Currently, the State of California’s Department of Toxic Substances
Control (DTSC) requires waste generators and consumer product retailers
to use live fish in a toxicity test to classify hazardous waste. Between
10 and 40 live fish are introduced into tanks containing the waste or
product being tested. If 10 percent of the animals die within 96 hours,
the waste is designated hazardous. Fish species used include fathead
minnows, rainbow trout, and golden shiners. The properties of some
testing materials can lead to false positive results, causing California
to dispose of waste that may not actually be hazardous, which costs the
state money.

AB 733 amends the California’s Health and Safety code, authorizing DTSC
to update the criteria and guidelines for the classification of
hazardous waste after evaluating two alternative tests.

“The live vertebrate fish test, where a fish is essentially choked to
death in toxic waste, isn’t just cruel – it’s antiquated, and out of
sync with scientific consensus,” said Judie Mancuso, founder and CEO of
Social Compassion in Legislation, co-sponsor of the legislation and
several other bills on animal rights, protection and welfare. “Other
methods are already in use around the world, and there’s no reason for
California to lag behind.”

Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), author of AB 733, continued, “The
current law requires our state to engage in a practice that no ethical
or modern brand in the private-sector would ever consider using. I want
to thank my colleagues in the Assembly for moving this bill—and our

“California is the only state in the country using this outdated test to
classify its hazardous waste. There are more advanced and humane
approaches available to protect our waterways from hazardous waste, and
we are proud to have helped advance this bill to move DTSC regulations
towards adopting these approaches,” says Kristie Sullivan, MPH, vice
president of research policy for the Physicians Committee.

The passage of AB 733 comes the same week that the State Assembly passed
bills to incentivize vegan lunch options in K-12 schools and to ban the
sale of certain exotic animal skins, and that the California State
Senate took steps to ban the captivity of animals in circuses.

“California has always been a leader on doing what’s right for animals
and the environment,” Mancuso added, “and this week is showing that that
commitment hasn’t changed.”

For an interview with Kristie Sullivan, MPH, please contact Reina Pohl
at [email protected] or 202-527-7326.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is
a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine,
conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics
and effectiveness in research and medical training.


Reina Pohl, 202-527-7326; [email protected]


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