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 Scientists team up on study to save endangered African penguins
16.11.2017 | Florida Atlantic University

nachricht Climate change: Urban trees are growing faster worldwide
13.11.2017 | Technische Universität München

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: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Underwater acoustic localization of marine mammals and vehicles

23.11.2017 | Information Technology

Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond

23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon

23.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>