GCU researchers tackle water pollution in Brazil

13 April 2015

GCU researchers tackle water pollution in Brazil

Sao Paulo in Brazil

Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) are to tackle poor water quality standards in Brazil, where there is considerable concern about the long-term impact of water pollution on ecosystems and human health. 

Reduction of pollution and river water quality improvement has become a major focus in the management of water resources internationally.

Improved analytical capabilities and ecotoxicological understanding have highlighted new threats to water quality, including micropollutants in the form of pharmaceutical residues and industrial chemicals.

GCU will work with the Universidade Federal do ABC in São Paulo and Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná in Curitiba to collaborate on a cross-disciplinary project which draws together environmental science, (waste) water engineering, eco-toxicological analysis, and stakeholder engagement expertise. The GCU team will be led by Professor Ole Pahl and Dr Paul Teedon.

With funding from the British Council’s official development assistance programme, the researchers aim to develop effective scientific methods and direct engagement with key Brazilian stakeholders to inform debates for the improvement of river-basin management and of water quality.

The project will contribute to Brazilian economic and social development and population welfare in terms of solutions to problems of aquatic micropollutants.

The ‘Water Environment Micropollutant Science Initiative’ study, lasting for two years, will contribute to advances in the identification, quantification and removal of potentially toxic substances in water. The investment comes as Brazil prepares for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The British Council’s Newton Institutional Links grants are to establish links between higher education, research institutions and businesses with the aim of translating research to drive economic development and social welfare in partner countries.

Professor Ole Pahl said: “This project is a first step in bringing together national and regional debate on the topic of micropollutants in water. In Europe, much of the emphasis is currently on antimicrobial resistance and hormones, whereas in the USA it is on cytostatic (anti-cancer) drugs. This project will provide an opportunity to add a South American dimension to these debates and enrich the international exchange on the important issue of water quality and environmental and human health.”

Dr Paul Teedon said: “Brazil has a complex epidemiological profile where (infectious and parasitic) diseases originating in poverty and those associated with processes of modernisation appear simultaneously. This project follows on from our European work here at GCU on the NoPILLS research project.”

‘NoPILLS’ was a two-year £7 million study to raise awareness of the presence of pharmaceutical residues in waste water and explore new methods of reducing them. It used computer games, among other methods, to communicate the impact of pharmaceutical consumption and disposal habits. The findings of the NoPILLS project will be presented later this year at a conference in Brussels (www.no-pills.eu).

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