Title: Widely used pesticides with previously unknown endocrine activity revealed as in vitro antiandrogens 
Resource Type: document --> technical publication --> journal article 
Country: EU Projects 
Year: 2011 
Availability: Environmental Health Perspectives. 119(6); 794-800. 
Author 1/Producer: Orton, F., 
Other Authors/Producers: Rosivatz, E., Scholze, M. & Kortenkamp, A. 
Author / Producer Type: EC Project 
Article Weblink (=direct link): http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?artic ...  
EUGRIS Keyword(s): Contaminated land-->Contaminants-->Others
Contaminated land-->Risk assessment-->Toxicological information
Diffuse pollution-->Contaminants-->Pesticides
Water resources and their management -->Stresses, quality and ecological status
Short description: Many agricultural pesticides used in Europe could disrupt male hormones and lead to infertility problems, according to laboratory tests. ‘Biomonitoring’ studies to investigate the actual behaviour of pesticides in the human body are now urgently needed to clarify the link between pesticide exposure and male reproductive health. Male fertility is reported to be declining worldwide. Experimental evidence in the laboratory has linked the chemicals present in some pesticides to reduced sperm quality, testicular cancer and reproductive abnormalities. The chemicals work by “blocking” the activity of hormones, known as androgens, which influence the development of the male reproductive system. However, the majority of research has been carried out on pesticides that are now out of use. The new study, conducted under the EU-funded CONTAMED project1, is the first to analyse the hormonal impact of the most commonly used pesticides in Europe. Although pesticides have to pass rigorous tests under EU law before they can be used commercially, their effect on hormonal activity is not yet sufficiently reflected in the test criteria. The scientists studied 37 pesticides with a 'high exposure risk' to humans, based on the concentration of the pesticide in European foods and estimated daily intake. A review of previous scientific studies revealed that 14 of the pesticides had previously been found to be hormone disruptors – or anti-androgens. To test for anti-androgenic properties in all 37 pesticides, the ‘luciferase’ gene of a firefly was injected into human cells which had been exposed to the pesticides. The firefly gene’s behaviour is driven by androgen. If no anti-androgenic chemicals were present in the cells, the gene triggered a light. However, where anti-androgenic chemicals were present, they 'switched off' the gene by blocking hormonal activity and no light was produced. The scientists used the amount of light emitted when the cells were exposed to varying concentrations of the pesticides to quantify their hormone-disrupting capability. Of the 37 pesticides tested, 23 were found clearly to be anti-androgens using this method. 
Submitted By: Professor Paul Bardos WhoDoesWhat?      Last update: 29/07/2011

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