New study to develop tests for household chemicals over fears they are harming women's fertility


Scientists in Scotland are embarking on a five-year study to develop tests for chemicals found in household goods over concerns that they are damaging women's fertility.

The tests will assess chemicals found in common everyday items from cosmetics and plastic containers to food additives and pesticides amid concerns that they are detrimental to women's reproductive health, the Herald Scotland reports. 

The study is being led by researchers at Aberdeen University and will look in particular at chemicals known as endocrine disruptors, which can interfere with the body's hormone system and are linked to tumors and birth defects. 

Although scientists already suspect that they cause a reduction in fertility among both men and women, research has not yet ascertained the level at which the endocrine disruptors become harmful to health. 

Professor Paul Fowler, Director of the Institute of Medical Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, said: '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.' 

The Aberdeen study is part of a wider research programme into the health impact of endocrine disruptors taking place across the EU and US. 

Other studies will explore the link between endocrine disruptors and metabolism and thyroid function as part of the €50 million (£44m) global project called 'FREIA' (Female Reproductive Toxicity of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals). 

Overseeing FREIA is Professor Majorie Van Duursen, at the Free University of Amsterdam. 

'There is surprisingly limited knowledge on this issue,' she said.

'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.'