Qualichem in vivo: A tool for assessing the quality of in vivo studies and its application for bisphenol A

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In regulatory toxicology, quality assessment of in vivo studies is a critical step for assessing chemical risks. It is crucial for preserving public health studies that are considered suitable for regulating chemicals are robust. Current procedures for conducting quality assessments in safety agencies are not structured, clear or consistent. This leaves room for criticism about lack of transparency, subjective influence and the potential for insufficient protection provided by resulting safety standards. We propose a tool called "Qualichem in vivo" that is designed to systematically and transparently assess the quality of in vivo studies used in chemical health risk assessment. We demonstrate its use here with 12 experts, using two controversial studies on Bisphenol A (BPA) that played an important role in BPA regulation in Europe. The results obtained with Qualichem contradict the quality assessments conducted by expert committees in safety agencies for both of these studies. Furthermore, they show that reliance on standardized guidelines to ensure scientific quality is only partially justified. Qualichem allows experts with different disciplinary backgrounds and professional experiences to express their individual and sometimes divergent views - an improvement over the current way of dealing with minority opinions. It provides a transparent framework for expressing an aggregated, multi-expert level of confidence in a study, and allows a simple graphical representation of how well the study integrates the best available scientific knowledge. Qualichem can be used to compare assessments of the same study by different health agencies, increasing transparency and trust in the work of expert committees. In addition, it may be used in systematic evaluation of in vivo studies submitted by industry in the dossiers that are required for compliance with the REACH Regulation. Qualichem provides a balanced, common framework for assessing the quality of studies that may or may not be following standardized guidelines. © 2014 Maxim, van der Sluijs.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere87738
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS One
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2014


  • 4,4' isopropylidenediphenol
  • article
  • electromagnetic field
  • health hazard
  • in vivo study
  • medical research
  • methodology
  • practice guideline
  • quality control
  • reproducibility
  • reproductive toxicity
  • risk assessment
  • scoring system
  • standardization
  • statistical analysis


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