Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Do chemicals in the environment affect fertility?

21.05.2008
Our day-to-day exposure to chemicals is on the increase. From food packaging to the air we breathe, every day contact with potentially-toxic substances could be affecting our health — and our fertility.

Researchers at The University of Nottingham are set to take part in one of the first studies of the effect of environmental chemicals on female mammals. Part of the Reproductive Effects of Environmental Chemicals in Females Consortium (REEF), Dr Richard Lea of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science and Dr Kevin Sinclair of the School of Biosciences will receive a £500,000 grant for their work researching how these chemicals impact on mammalian fertility. REEF will receive a total of £2.4m in funding from the EU.

Dr Lea and Dr Sinclair will study the impact of low levels of environmental chemicals on sheep foetuses in the womb. The specific chemicals to be studied are found in human sewage sludge which is frequently spread on fields where sheep graze prior to entering the human food chain.

The amount of chemicals absorbed is thought to be so minute that they would be difficult to discern through testing. However, through a process known as bioaccumulation, chemicals can become concentrated in individuals over a number of years, stored mostly in fat tissue. Though these chemicals may not be directly harmful to these individuals, if they are passed on — for example, through gestation in the womb or through the food chain — they might have consequences for human health.

“One of the concerns of bioaccumulation is that when the fat is broken down and passed on — for example during the breast feeding process — the offspring are exposed to a concentration of chemicals that the mother has built up over the years,” said Dr Sinclair.

Colleagues in Aberdeen have provided precise measurements of specific chemicals in the environment and in animal tissues. These often take the form of chemicals which mimic hormones.

“These chemicals come from a variety of sources including plastics, pesticides and industrial waste and many of these persist in the environment for a long time — albeit at very low levels,” said Dr Lea. “The problem is even low levels can still have an effect.”

The three-year study will look at how chemicals are passed on from mother to foetus, and how this impacts on the foetus. It is thought that, although this generation of animals may have no problems getting pregnant, the next and future generations could have fertility problems stemming from exposure to environmental chemicals in the womb.

Dr Lea said: “Though male fertility has been the subject of studies in recent years, this will be the first time that female fertility has been examined. Currently, less is known about the effects of hormone-like chemicals on the developing female foetus, so the consequences for reproductive development in females may be greater than in males.”

“We’re not talking about obvious congenital defects here, but tiny changes caused by exposure to chemicals that have an impact on reproductive function — changes over generations rather than immediate effect,” added Dr Sinclair.

The inaugural meeting of the REEF consortium will take place in Copenhagen on Thursday 22 and Friday 23 May to formally launch the project.

Emma Thorne | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

nachricht A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>