Disruption of hormonal signalling in fetal life can irreversibly affect human development and reproductive health at a later age. Of considerable concern in Europe is a decline in male semen quality and a high prevalence of congenital malformations and hormone-dependent cancers. Although it appears plausible that environmental chemicals with endocrine activity may be involved in the causation of these disorders, there is no evidence for adverse effects of individual substances at relevant human exposure levels. However, there are indications that combinations of chemicals play a cumulative role. CONTAMED aims to explore the hypothesis that combined exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals in fetal life may lead to adverse delayed impacts on human reproductive health. To achieve this goal, CONTAMED will combine epidemiological approaches with laboratory science. The work plan for CONTAMED is organised in three major strands focusing on human studies, animal models and in vitro assays including metabolomics. The project will deliver new epidemiological insights into associations between cumulative exposure and reproductive health, improved toxicological risk assessment for the anticipation of reproductive effects of chemicals, validated biomarkers for cumulative exposures and new mechanistic information about the ways in which chemicals may disrupt sexual differentiation during development. CONTAMED will provide the knowledge necessary to set the scene for Europe-wide human health impact studies of cumulative exposures to endocrine active chemicals and their possible role in the deterioration of reproductive health in Europe. Finally, the project will analyze the implications of new scientific findings for the European Environment and Health Action Plan and the Community Strategy for Endocrine Disrupters.
Fields of science
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Funding SchemeCP-FP - Small or medium-scale focused research project