Concerns about possible effects of hormone-disrupting chemicals in the environment on wildlife and ecosystems, prompted the UK Government to establish major research programmes. The current programme is identifying whether or not endocrine disruption is occurring in invertebrates and top predators in terrestrial and aquatic (freshwater and marine) environments.
The programme started in February 2001 and will be completed by 2004. The research is supported by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the National Assembly for Wales and the Department of Environment for Northern Ireland. The Programme has 9 research projects, conducted across 12 laboratories in the UK.
WRc-NSF Ltd and the University of Cardiff examined the iological effects of endocrine disruption in aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates.
This 3 year research project has developed molecular biomarkers for use in field and laboratory studies. The test organisms were the amphipod Gammarus pulex and the earthworm Eisena andrei. A group of biomarkers (e.g. vitellogenin, zona radiata protein and a molecular probe for the hormone annetocin) were developed against a series of endocrine disrupting chemicals. These biomarkers were evaluated against ecological effects measured in individuals and populations through multi-generation studies. Ultimately test systems will be field tested to assess the extent, causes and sources of endocrine disrupting effects, as part of a follow-on PhD study in continuing collaboration with Cardiff University.
The methodology and tools produced will enable a rapid measure of gene response to contaminants and will allow:
- Monitoring and demonstrating of compliance with standards
- The efficacy of treatment processes, to remove such potential ED substances from waters and sludges, to be evaluated.