Both human and wildlife health depend on the ability to reproduce and develop normally. This is not possible without a healthy endocrine system. Thus, it is of worldwide concern that current population is exposed to chemicals, some of which can interfere with natural endocrine functions, i.e., are known or suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Turning on, shutting off or modifying hormonal signals may lead to many adverse health outcomes. In addition, current evidence has been showing that many of the endocrine-related diseases and disorders (neurobehavioral disorders, prevalence of obesity and diabetes type 2) are on the rise. This is especially relevant for children whose exposure to EDCs (known or suspected) is higher in a comparison with adults (through their hand-to-mouth activity, higher metabolic rate) and at the same time their developing tissues are exquisitely sensitive to endocrine signals. Due to the technological boost of 20th century society, many of these chemicals are commonly found in the built environment (building materials, furnishings, and consumer products). This is extremely significant, as people spend around 80-90% of their time indoors. Whilst exposure to EDCs from oral and dermal pathways have been analysed, their presence in air and potential for adverse consequences from inhalation remain largely unknown. In addition, humans are simultaneously exposed to multiple EDCs; thus, the understanding of air exposure to mixtures of EDCs and health outcomes assumes particular relevance. The most effective way to reduce health risks of EDCs is at regulatory level. Protection against detrimental outcomes of EDCs requires, first of all, reliable information about their current levels in order to enable more precise effect estimates for epidemiology studies.
EDC(Mind)2 is a multidisciplinary project that aims to address critical gaps in knowledge of child exposure to EDCs with emphasis on the impacts on neurodevelopment. The main objectives that encompass this project are: i) to assess exposure to EDCs (as single compounds and in mixtures) in child population; ii) to identify EDC mixtures that correlate to early signs of adverse cognitive development among schoolchildren; iii) to integrate the generated knowledge to risk management of EDCs; and iv) to establish a set of good practices and guidelines designed to ultimately lead to a healthy and safe environment for children.
The project will capitalise on the solid academic and scientific expertise of the team in air pollution sciences and environmental health. The goal of this project will be achieved by multidisciplinary collaboration between the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto and the Institute of Public Health of the University of Porto.
The involved team consists of specialists on air pollution and health risks assessment, chemists, and toxicologists, with external medical advisory (Department of Paediatric Endocrinology, Hospital Pedro Hispano). The project will benefit from top scientific expertise of Professor Lidia Morawska (Australia), Professor Hans Verhagen (Netherlands), Professor Dzúrová (Czech Republic) and Professor Stefano Bonassi (Italy).