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 How do muscle and tendon connections last a lifetime? Study in the fruit fly Drosophila
04.04.2019 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

nachricht The Internet of Things: TU Graz researchers increase the dependability of smart systems
18.02.2019 | Technische Universität Graz

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

Im Focus: Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications

The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...

Im Focus: A long-distance relationship in femtoseconds

Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.

Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...

Im Focus: Researchers 3D print metamaterials with novel optical properties

Engineers create novel optical devices, including a moth eye-inspired omnidirectional microwave antenna

A team of engineers at Tufts University has developed a series of 3D printed metamaterials with unique microwave or optical properties that go beyond what is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New automated biological-sample analysis systems to accelerate disease detection

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

18.04.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

New eDNA technology used to quickly assess coral reefs

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>