Major research to enhance health through improved water quality

Mar 16 2006 Posted: 00:00 GMT
The Environmental Change Institute, NUI Galway, has been awarded over €1 million in funding by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a major research project to investigate water quality and its relationship to human health.

'Enhancing Human Health through Improved Water Quality' is an interdisciplinary research programme that brings together scientists, doctors and engineers from NUI Galway, University College Dublin and the Department of Public Health, Health Services Executive-West. It will be launched by the EPA at 10.30am on Thursday 16th March 2006 at the Environmental Change Institute (ECI).

The programme of research, which is a series of linked projects, will examine the relationship between drinking water supply and the occurrence of Cryptosporidium infection in the West of Ireland, and the effect of seasonal and environmental factors on ground water quality. One of the projects will investigate methods to show if contamination of water comes from human or animal waste, and determine methods to predict when contamination of water supplies is most likely to happen. The programme will also examine drinking water, bathing water and waste water for antibiotic residues and antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Professor Martin Cormican, from the Department of Bacteriology at NUI Galway's Medical School and lead researcher, said the study represented a major opportunity to improve our understanding of the link between our use, or sometimes misuse, of water and our health.

"We depend on water in our homes, in industry and in farming to clean and flush away waste which may end up in our environment. On the other hand, to live long and to live well, we need to draw from that same environment water that is clean and safe to drink. If we want to do both of these things with water, we need to put in place systems to make sure that we do not drink tomorrow what we flush away today."

Speaking at the launch, Deputy Director General of the EPA Dr Padraic Larkin said: "This is a key research project for the EPA which brings together a diverse group of leading researchers from environment and health sciences to work on this critical issue for Ireland. I look forward to the results of this project being utilised in the future to deliver the highest possible quality of water in Ireland".

Professor Emer Colleran, Director of the ECI said: "The ECI is delighted with its success in attracting this significant research funding from the EPA who recognise the benefit of bringing together experts in the fields of environmental and health research. Protection of our water bodies and provision of water supplies require a multidisciplinary research approach. The project will link together researchers from different disciplines in a unique project focused on the improvement of water quality in Ireland."

Since the establishment of the ECI, academic staff associated with the research programme has attracted over €30m in additional funding from both national and international sources. In addition to the long-term support of environmental research at NUI Galway, the ECI is continuing to support existing environmental courses and is contributing to the development of new undergraduate and postgraduate courses.



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