Authorization of pesticides for market release requires toxicity testing on animals, typically performed by test laboratories on contract with the pesticide producer. The latter provides the results and summary to the regulatory authorities. For the commonly used pesticide chlorpyrifos, an industry-funded toxicity study concludes that no selective effects on neurodevelopment occur even at high exposures. In contrast, the evidence from independent studies points to adverse effects of current exposures on cognitive development in children. We reviewed the industry-funded developmental neurotoxicity test data on chlorpyrifos and the related substance chlorpyrifos-methyl. We noted treatment-related changes in a brain dimension measure for chlorpyrifos at all dose levels tested, although not been reported in the original test summary. We further found issues which inappropriately decrease the ability of the studies to reveal true effects, including a dosage regimen that resulted in too low exposure of the nursing pups for chlorpyrifos and possibly for chlorpyrifos-methyl, and a failure to detect any neurobehavioral effects of lead nitrate used as positive control in the chlorpyrifos study. Our observations thus suggest that conclusions in test reports submitted by the producer may be misleading. This discrepancy affects the ability of regulatory authorities to perform a valid and safe evaluation of these pesticides. The difference between raw data and conclusions in the test reports indicates a potential existence of bias that would require regulatory attention and possible resolution.
Keywords: Bias; Developmental neurotoxicity; Pesticides; Toxicity testing.