ERGO Project kicks off in Antwerp

08 Apr 2019

The ERGO Consortium at the ERGO Kick-off Meeting in Antwerp, Belgium in January 2019

New research to protect human and environmental health focuses on improved testing for Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

A timely new project funded by the European Union (EU) will explore how to improve current testing tools for Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs), particularly for chemicals that are less studied so far. Launched in January, the ERGO project aims to break down the wall between human health and environmental testing of endocrine disrupters and focuses on EndocRine Guideline Optimisation.

EDCs are mostly man-made, found in various materials such as pesticides, metals, additives or contaminants in food, and in personal care products. EDCs produce adverse effects via a disruption of the human body’s endocrine (hormone) system, and they are suspected to be associated with altered reproductive function in males and females; increased incidence of breast cancer; abnormal growth patterns and neurodevelopmental delays in children, as well as changes in immune function. Human exposure to EDCs can occur via ingestion of food, dust and water, via inhalation of gases and particles in the air, and through the skin.

In the EU, criteria have been developed to identify pesticides, biocides and other chemicals with endocrine disrupting properties. However, current testing tools do not always appropriately identify effects, particularly those related to certain less-studied or newly emerging EDCs. New and improved approaches are urgently needed to better protect human and environmental health against the hazards of EDCs. At the recent project kick-off meeting in Antwerp (Belgium) at the end of January, ERGO Project Coordinator Henrik Holbech from the University of Southern Denmark (SDU), explained that “ERGO works with a ground-breaking approach, aiming to break down the barrier which currently exists between the different research fields that investigate adverse effects of EDCs in different vertebrate classes, from fish and amphibians (non-mammalian vertebrates) to humans (mammalian vertebrates). Now, regulatory procedures for identification and assessment of EDCs are separated for human health and the environment. This means that useful data from non-mammalian vertebrate research tests have so far been disregarded in human health research and vice versa”.

Implementation of the ERGO Integrated Approach to Testing and Assessment (IATA) strategy in regulations of EDCs will make hazard assessment faster, cheaper, simpler and safer. It will support industry in the development of EDC-free products benefitting both the environment and human health.

Henrik Holbech adds: “ERGO brings together a strong team of multidisciplinary experts from industry, regulatory bodies and research institutes involving 16 partners from Europe, Japan and the United States. ERGO is expected to have far-reaching impacts, not only contributing to improved testing and guidelines, but also contributing to the regulation of EDCs, protecting human and environmental health“.

ERGO is part of a cluster of eight research projects from the Call ‘New Testing and Screening Methods to Identify Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals’ funded by the EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme. Each project is concentrating on a different aspect of new testing and screening methods identifying EDCs. The Joint Launch Event of Projects was held at the European Commission in Brussels on 31st January 2019.

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Contact us:

Project Communications: Avril Hanbidge (

Project Coordinator: Henrik Holbech (