On 1 June 2007 the European Commission (EC) initiated its European chemicals legislation, REACH – Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & restrictions of Chemicals regulation to protect Europeans from misinformation and harmful chemicals. In 2022, it stands as one of the most comprehensive and protective regulatory frameworks for chemicals in the world and celebrates its fifteenth anniversary today on 1 June 2022. It continues to significantly improve the protection of human and environmental health by banning hazardous chemicals, encouraging innovation and keeping the European Union’s chemical industry competitive.
As science evolves, new threats are constantly being discovered and therefore a large majority of Europeans remain cautious about the impact chemicals may have on their health, wildlife and the environment. In response to these realities and aiming at ambitious environmental and health objectives by 2030 the EC launched Europe’s Green Deal, targeting the issues through the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and the Zero Pollution Action Plan. Among the different planned actions, several topics were launched under Horizon 2020 to fund projects on the matter.
In the European Union (EU), legislation requires screening and testing of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) according to the EU test methods regulation. 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. Currently, 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. ERGO aims to improve hazard assessment of EDCs for the protection of human health and the environment by breaking down the wall that 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) by demonstrating that it is feasible to extrapolate effects of EDCs across the vertebrate classes, i.e. an adverse effect observed in a fish or amphibian will also raise concern for an adverse effect in humans.