Over recent years there has been a growing interest in the declines in human fecundity. Since many chemicals have been shown experimentally to mimic the activities of reproductive hormones, the potential exists that exposure to environmental chemicals has an influence on human reproductive endpoints. A particular aspect that has received relatively sparse attention is the extent to which food as a medium for exposure to synthetic endocrine disrupters impacts on human fecundity. So far, studies focused mainly on the conventional endocrine disruptors: pesticides, heavy metals and toxic environmental contaminants of industrial origin. One large class of chemical that received little attention is that of pharmaceutical products (PPs), which are used in quantities comparable to those of agrochemicals.<P> Currently, very little is known of the occurrence, fate and effects of PPs in the environment. Our understanding of the possible transmission of PPs into the food chain is also very scarce and even less is known on how such food affects human fecundity. Part of the problem results from the scarcity of methods for simple and efficient clean up and concentration, and from the lack of high-throughput low-cost diagnostic assays. In this project we intend to integrate research groups from different disciplines for a better understanding of the extent of the problem.
The strategic approach of the project is to develop methods for screening PPs, and their metabolites, to determine their adverse effects, origin and fate, as well as their mechanisms of action, assess their risk and propose risk management policies. These methods, once developed and validated should identify and characterize the endocrine activity of PPs, enable to point at PP compounds that affect fecundity, present the information to the public via knowledge pools, and help in determining methods to prevent or minimize these risks.
<P>For more information about this project, please visit the <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/food_quality/projects/071_en.ht…; target="_blank">European Commission Food Quality and Safety in Europe</a> or the <a href="http://foodandfecundity.factlink.net/" target="_blank">F AND F</a> Web sites.