Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - SENDICHEM (Sensing endocrine disrupting chemicals: Development of novel solid phase extraction systems)

The department of organic chemistry at Ghent University (UGent), Belgium, was selected by the European Commission as a host institution for a Marie Curie early stage research training site (EST), titled 'Sensing endocrine disrupting chemicals: Development of novel solid phase extraction systems' (SENDICHEM). The project ran from September 2006 to August 2010. The department combined different research groups with relevant experience in several aspects of the project. The close connection of the department of organic chemistry to the research institute for chromatography and the Pfizer analytical research centre ensured awareness of industrial needs and opportunities.

In recent years the potential role of environmental pollutants with suspected endocrine activity, the so called endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), in a variety of reproductive system-related abnormalities in humans and animals, has strongly been emphasised by the media. An increasing risk of cancerogenesis, disturbance of children's development and reduced male fertility are attributed to EDCs in water and nutrition. The EDC class is very heterogeneous and comprises natural and synthetic hormones as well as industrial chemicals, herbicides and pesticides.

The analysis of these compounds in the environment constitutes a difficult task, firstly because of the complexity of the environmental matrices and secondly because of their very low, physiologically active, environmental concentrations. Fast and easy methods with low detection limits for the quantitative analysis of EDCs are urgently required because more exposure data for risk assessment are necessary and the synergistic effects of different EDCs are not ruled out. Their accurate determination demands very sensitive and selective analytical methodologies, which in general translate into long and laborious procedures. Of the various steps in a sample preparation procedure, the extraction, purification and separation step, which is present in almost all known analytical procedures described in literature, is the most critical. Progress in this area of research, could only be accomplished through an integrated and interdisciplinary approach.

The project focussed on the efficient collaboration between synthetic organic chemists, polymer chemists, separation scientists and specialists in structural characterisation for the design of novel solid phase extraction systems for EDCs. The specific challenge resided in the development of materials showing gradually differing affinity for several EDCs.

The interdisciplinary nature of the project defined a wide field of training for the early stage researchers. Next to training in scientific and technological competencies, training was provided in complementary skills such as presentation and reporting capability, aspects of industrial research and time management.

The specific objectives of this early stage research training project that were implemented over the period of the training programme were:

1. the training of four young scientists in a laboratory based multidisciplinary programme making use of the excellent research environment at Ghent University. Through the integrated and interdisciplinary approach of the project, the training of the students was very broad and all students that were involved in the project reached a very high scientific level. Through the training in the context of the project they were all anticipated to obtain the degree of PhD in Sciences, chemistry.
2. the development of novel solid phase EDC extraction methods for waste water analysis using a combination of advanced organic synthesis and polymer chemistry, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) affinity measurements and state of the art separation techniques.

Reported by

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top