Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have been awarded €6.1 million to develop a test to identify harmful chemicals that affect female fertility.
In collaboration with 11 other global partner universities and institution, Queen's researchers seek to create a new method for identifying chemicals known as endocrine disruptors.
These chemicals - found in everyday products such as plastics, air fresheners and cosmetics - can interfere with hormones, as well as fertility and brain development.
Without dedicated tests to assess their properties however, it is difficult to gauge the damage these chemicals can have on humans, animals and the environment.
The grant is part of a wider research project funded by the European Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020.
Better test methods will help protect the health of humans and the environment as there is "surprisingly limited knowledge on this issue," according to the study's co-author.
Dr Lisa Connolly - at Queen’s University Institute for Global Food Security -explained, "[they] will investigate how exposure to endocrine disruptors during different hormone-sensitive phases in a woman’s life such as the fetal, puberty, and adult stages, can ultimately affect her fertility.”
Researchers at Queen’s University and Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands will work together to develop the tests.
She added, “We are delighted to be part of this research project which brings together experts across a number of countries. It is only through developing a test to better understand how these chemicals affect fertility that we will then be in a position to offer solutions.”