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New Policy Brief: Towards safer chemicals recommendations for reliable test methods to identify endocrine disruptors (EDs)

A new policy brief published by a cluster of projects researching endocrine disruptors (EDs), EURION has summarized its key messages and recommendations for test methods to identify endocrine disruptors.

EDs or endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are mostly man-made chemicals which affect the body’s hormonal systems. Found in pesticides, food contaminants, and personal care products, they have been linked to disruptions in reproductive, growth, immune functions, and numerous other hormonal functions. The public may be exposed to them through food, dust, water, air particles, and skin contact. ED research, particularly of the adverse effects on thyroid, brain, metabolic and reproductive health has been limited which has hindered their effective regulation.

The brief has been prepared by the EURION Cluster, the collaboration between eight research projects funded by the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, which focused on developing methods and testing strategies for under-studied dysfunctions caused by EDs, including metabolic, brain, thyroid and reproductive disorders. Launched in 2019, the cluster was the largest of its kind, with over €50 million of funding and brought together more than 70 groups to synergise their research. After 5.5 productive years, the projects are coming to a close at the end of June 2024.

The policy brief explains how EDs have been linked to public health issues including obesity, diabetes, neurodevelopmental delay and fertility disorders and how each of the EURION research projects have contributed research to support the development of internationally harmonised strategies and guidelines for testing EDs and assessing these associated health risks.

Key messages for policy from the research include:

  • More than 100 new test methods and new endpoints in existing test methods to identify EDCs
  • 11 methods are on the OECD workplan for further development and potential implementation in regulatory test strategies
  • Data generated from human studies links EDC exposure to changes in thyroid hormone patterns in expectant mothers, developmental neurotoxicity, clinical metabolic outcomes and female fertility problems
  • The development and fine-tuning of at least 40 Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs), which can support EDC identification in regulatory processes
  • ED effects are chemical-specific, involve a broad variety of targets and can affect multiple hormonal pathways in a species-, age- and sex-dependent manner
  • It’s possible to extrapolate ED effects across vertebrate classes, which allows a combined human health and environmental assessment of EDs
  • To fully exploit the research, shorter science-to-policy implementation and additional funding for validation and implementation of test methods are highly recommended.

To download EURION policy briefs, click here.

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Contact us:

EURION Coordination: Majorie van Duursen m.van.duursen@vu.nl and Anna-Liisa Levonen anna-liisa.levonen@uef.fi

EURION Communication and Press: Avril Hanbidge avril@aquatt.ie