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Because it is not legal or ethical to perform toxicology research on humans, scientists use animals such as fish, mice, and other organisms whose bodies respond similarly to those of humans. These are called animal models. Scientists then make predictions about how a chemical will affect humans based on results of the animal tests. Whenever possible, scientists study chemical effects on cells or tissue samples.
What does a fish experiment have to do with human health?
Most vertebrates (animals with a spinal column) are very similar in the early stages of development. In fact, it is difficult to tell the difference between embryos from a human, a fish, and a chicken. See if you can tell the difference.
Because of these similarities, scientists have discovered that chemicals that affect a vertebrate animal embryo often have similar effects on a human embryo.
There are many instruments available to measure chemical concentration in the environment. However, using an animal model can be more useful for several reasons.
Who Studies Developmental Toxicology?