Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Health and the Environment: European research on endocrine disrupters receives major boost

15.05.2002


Europe’s leading researchers on human health and wildlife impacts of endocrine disrupters will be brought together under a new research “cluster” supported by DG Research which is to contribute €20 million. This cluster project will provide a critical mass for new and existing research on endocrine disrupters and their effect on human health and on the environment. Endocrine disrupters are suspected of causing problems for human health and wildlife. For instance, cases have been reported of fish, frogs and alligators changing sex as a result of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals in polluted aquatic environments.



“This research will complement ongoing efforts to assess the risks posed by chemicals in our environment and provide a direct contribution to the European Union’s Community Strategy for Endocrine Disrupters. It is essential that we base our policies and regulations on sound science and that we invest in the reinforcement of our scientific capabilities to test chemicals on possible endocrine disruptive characteristics”, stated Commissioner for Research Philippe Busquin.

What are endocrine disrupters?


The endocrine system co-ordinates the activities of the organs in the body. Endocrine organs, such as the testes, ovaries, adrenal, pancreas, pituitary, thyroid and parathyroid, produce and release hormones to the bloodstream. Hormones are present in extremely low concentrations and they act in specific organs. Over the last thirty years, evidence has accumulated that a variety of chemicals, including natural and synthetic hormones (also phytoestrogens), pesticides, additives used by the plastic industry, surfactants and persistent environmental pollutants like polychlorinated aromatic hydrocarbons (eg: PCBs and dioxins) can mimic or disrupt hormone action. These types of substances are known collectively as endocrine disrupters. They can act, for example, through interference with the synthesis, secretion or action of natural hormones in the body that are responsible for the maintenance of homeostasis, reproduction, development and/or behaviour. Therefore, exposure to these substances could affect different organs in the body, with a number of harmful consequences, such as lowered sperm counts for humans or change in sex for animals.

Endocrine disrupters have been shown to disrupt the endocrine systems of animals in laboratory studies, and there is evidence that they cause developmental abnormalities and reproductive impairment in certain fish and wildlife in polluted waters. The relationship between endocrine related human malfunctions and diseases, such as cancer, and exposure to contaminants is poorly understood and has only recently being investigated in a more systematic manner. However, gaps remain in our knowledge of the mechanisms and substances involved and extensive research is needed.

European policy

European policy regarding endocrine disrupters is outlined out by the Community Strategy for Endocrine Disrupters (COM(1999)706 final), adopted by the Commission in December 1999 and supported by the Council and the Parliament, as well as by the follow-up communication on its implementation . In its medium-term actions, the strategy identifies research and development as one of three priorities, the other two being Identification and assessment of endocrine disrupters and Identification of substitutes and voluntary initiatives.

Research
In response to this strategic need and to tackle the knowledge gap concerning these chemicals, the European Commission allocated a budget of €20 millions for research on the health and environment implications of endocrine disrupters. This dedicated call for proposals for research projects was organised jointly by the DG Research Quality of Life and Environment and Sustainable Development programmes. Following evaluation 4 excellent projects were proposed for funding and regrouped into a “cluster”:

EDEN: Endocrine Disrupters: exploring novel end-points, exposure, low-dose and mixture-effects in humans, aquatic wildlife and laboratory animals (22 partners in 10 countries, €8.7 million EC contribution).
COMPRENDO: Comparative research on endocrine disrupters - Phylogenetic approach and common principles focusing on androgenic/antiandrogenic compounds (13 partners in 9 countries, €3.3 million EC contribution).

EURISKED: Multi-organic risk assessment of selected endocrine disrupters (10 partners in 8 countries, €3.1 million EC contribution).

FIRE: Risk assessment of brominated flame retardants as suspected endocrine disrupters for human and wildlife health (19 partners in 7 countries, €4.9 million EC contribution).
For more information, see annex.

This cluster co-ordinated by the EDEN project will involve 64 organisations in Europe and covers a wide range of expertise and disciplines to create the necessary "critical mass" of knowledge. The cluster is to become a point of reference of European research in this field and its activities will be open to other ongoing or future EU-funded projects in the field. Thus, the cluster approach provides an indication of the integrated project, which is a new funding instrument proposed for the Sixth Framework programme (2002-2006). Other ongoing and future projects on endocrine disrupters will also be associated with the “cluster” in a more informal way (participation at workshops etc) to further enhance the focus and co-ordination of EU research support.

An interface between scientists and policy-makers

One of the objectives of the cluster is to establish an interface between scientists and policy-makers, as this is an area with major policy and regulatory implications. For instance this initiative can contribute to the development of the new EU policy on chemicals presented in the Commission White Paper: Strategy for a Future Chemicals Policy (COM(2001)88 final) .

Stéphane Hogan | alphagalileo

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht Investigating cell membranes: researchers develop a substance mimicking a vital membrane component
25.05.2018 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

nachricht New approach: Researchers succeed in directly labelling and detecting an important RNA modification
30.04.2018 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>