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Evaluation of possible impacts of endocrine disruptors on the North Sea ecosystem

Research project MN/DD2/002 (Research action MN)

Persons :

Description :

This project aims at establishing a clear overview of the increasing volume of available scientific literature on environmental endocrine disruption. Specific objectives are:

- To address the uncertainties presently associated with the issue of environmental endocrine disruption..
- To specify future research and policy needs.
- To accomplish the above mentioned tasks for endocrine modulating activity in the marine environment.

A scientific review and proposals for policy guidance will be prepared which can be essential tools for formulating governmental management decisions that will help to structure future action plans to tackle this delicate environmental problem.


Based on available scientific literature, an electronic database of compounds, classified according to their endocrine disrupting potential will be established. In a first research phase, all the available information on the problem of endocrine disruption will be collected, including the effects assessment and the physico-chemical properties of the chemicals of concern in a cross linked database system. Secondly, these chemicals will be labeled for their intrinsic endocrine disrupting potential. In the second phase, an overview will be made of the effects on the endocrine metabolism of marine organisms and a preliminary hazard assessment will be made for those compounds where sufficient data are available on their environmental concentrations in the North Sea, their sources and their potential ED effects. The results of phase 1 and 2 will facilitate the formulation of future research needs and policy measures.

The partners

The critical review of the literature concerning endocrine disruptive chemicals was performed by the Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology and Aquatic Ecology (LETAE) (Prof. Dr. C. Janssen) and the Laboratory of Andrology of Ghent University. Furthermore, LETAE has conducted the hazard/risk assessment for marine organisms. Both university groups and ECOLAS (ir. D. Le Roy) are responsible for the identification and priorization of research needs. Finally, the development of policy measures is performed by ECOLAS in consultation with LETAE.


The Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology and Aquatic Ecology has internationally recognized expertise in fundamental and applied ecotoxicological research. The research activities are aimed at (1) the detection and identification of environmental endocrine disruption in freshwater and marine environments, (2) the bioavailability and the ecological risks of metals in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and (3) ecological risk assessment procedures. In the field of endocrine disruption close contacts or involvement in cooperative research with the following institutes has been established: University of Bern (Prof. Segner), Fraunhofer Institute Schmallenberg (Dr. Wenzel), Cardiff University (Prof. Pascoe), MAFF-UK (Dr. Matthiessen), NIVA-Norway (Dr. Hylland) and Plymouth University (Dr. Depledge).

Satellite 1:
Ghent University
The Laboratory for Andrology is specialized in assessing the consequences of endocrine disruptors on humans. The research activities are aimed at: steroid analyses on semen plasm; evaluation of sperm motility and morphology; Sertoli cell function; biochemical analyses in semen and their relation with fertility and pathology. The Laboratory for Andrology has international contacts with Pretoria Academic Hospital (Prof. Bornman), National University Hospital Copenhagen (Prof. Skakkebaek), Imperial School of Medicine at St. Mary’s London (Prof. Joffe), Aarhus University Hospital (Prof. Bonde), Justus Liebig Universität Giessen (Prof. Schill), Dijkzigt Ziekenhuis Amsterdam (Prof. Weber).

Satellite 2:
ECOLAS has an extensive expertise in policy supporting studies concerning ecotoxicology and the marine environment. Several studies have been performed for the EU, the Ministry of Public Health and Environment and for the federal and regional environmental - and science policy authorities. ECOLAS has many contacts with different industrial federations and companies.

Documentation :

For further information:
Universiteit Gent - Laboratorium voor Biologisch Onderzoek en Waterverontreiniging
J. Plateaustraat 22, 9000 Gent
Tel: (09) 264 37 75 Fax: (09) 264 41 99 E-mail:

Evaluatie van de impact van endocrien verstorende stoffen op het Noordzee ecosysteem: samenvatting    Brussel: DWTC, 2002 (SP1043)
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Evaluation of possible impacts of endocrine disruptors on the North Sea ecosystem: summary    Brussels: OSTC, 2002 (SP1044)
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Evaluation de l’impact possible des disrupteurs endocriniens sur l’écosystème de la mer du Nord: résumé    Bruxelles: SSTC, 2002 (SP1045)
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Evaluatie van de mogelijke impact van endocrien verstorende stoffen op het Noordzee ecosysteem : eindrapport  Janssen, Colin - Vandenbergh, G. - Verslycke, T. ... et al  Brussel : Federaal Wetenschapsbeldeid, 2004 (SP1346)
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