New research looks at the impact of everyday chemicals on women's health

New research looks at the impact of everyday chemicals on women's health

Study to look at how chemicals in cosmetics may affect women's fertility

Researchers from The Institute of Medical Sciences at the University of Aberdeen will share a six million euro grant to investigate how chemicals found in substances such as air fresheners and cosmetics may affect women’s reproductive health.  

Funded by the European Research and Innovation programme, Horizon 2020, the 6.1 million euro grant, will enable the FREIA (Female Reproductive toxicity of Endocrine dIsrupting chemicAls) project to develop new tests to identify chemicals known as endocrine disruptors that may disrupt female hormones. 

The FREIA project is one of eight, five-year research projects to be awarded a share of 50 million euros allocated to improve the identification of endocrine disruptors within regulatory frameworks, such as REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & restriction of CHemicals) and EFSA (European Food Safety Authority). The ultimate goal being to protect human and environmental health. 

Coordinated by Professor Majorie Van Duursen at the Free University of Amsterdam, the FREIA consortium is unique in focusing on female reproduction and specifically will investigate the mechanisms by which endocrine disruptors can affect a woman’s fertility.

Prof Van Duursen explains: “There is surprisingly limited knowledge on this issue.

“We will investigate how exposure to endocrine disruptors during different hormone-sensitive phases in a woman’s life, from during fetal development in the womb, puberty, and adult stages, can ultimately affect her fertility.”

Professor Paul Fowler, Director of the Institute of Medical Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, adds: “Endocrine disruptors are present in many products that we use in our daily lives. These include plastics, air fresheners and cosmetics.

“We already know that endocrine disruptors can affect fertility, brain development and many other aspects of health.

"However, at the moment we do not have good tests to work out whether certain chemicals that require regulation, such food additives, plastic food containers, pesticides and biocides might disturb the endocrine system in people, especially women, thereby affecting their health and fertility.

"It is hoped that this research will provide an effective way to test whether there is any associated risk of using certain everyday products, and in doing so protect the health of humans and the environment.”