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The River Eden is one of the most beautiful rivers in the UK, if not all of Europe. It is host to a wide variety of different plant and animal species and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Many communities live on or near the River Eden or one of its tributaries. Human impact on the landscape often has unintended or unforeseen consequences on ecosystems, including rivers. Agriculture, primarily through the use of fertilisers, changes the ecology of river systems which affects all plant and wildlife as well as humans.
Over time, pollutants accumulate in the River Eden through farming practices, something that has been of concern to local communities and scientists alike. In order to monitor and develop ways for decreasing diffuse pollution from agriculture, researchers from Durham, Lancaster, Newcastle, the Centre for Hydrology and Ecology, Askham Bryan College (Newton Rigg) and the Eden Rivers Trust, have come together with communities, including farmers, to develop new ways to monitor and improve river water quality. The project known as the Eden Demonstration Test Catchment, or EdenDTC for short, has installed 10 river monitoring stations to monitor the water quality of the River Eden. The EdenDTC has made live, real-time data about the River Eden freely available online. Read more
Terry McClure, who is studying for an MA in Risk, Health and Public Policy, explains how some insurance companies are using computer modelling and information about people’s lifestyle choices found on the internet to evaluate health-related risks. This could largely affect whether some people are able to receive life insurance coverage in the future. This form of ‘predictive modelling’ could also disproportionately affect poor people who may be perceived as a riskier clientele and denied coverage.
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Insurers Test Data Profiles to Identify Risky Clients. Wall Street Journal
Life insurance: Life in the fast lane. The Actuary
A recent study co-authored by Dr Mylène Riva and Prof Sarah Curtis, Director of Frontier Knowledge in IHRR, looks at the health inequalities experienced by communities who live in former coalfields, when compared with other communities in England. While some coalfield communities are doing better than others, possibly demonstrating individual resilience, people living in coalfield communities are more prone to limiting long-term illnesses such as asthma or chronic arthritis. The importance of this research is that it reveals how socioeconomic conditions impact the physical health of communities and in this case the impact can be quite large. According to the study, people living in coalfield communities are 27 percent more likely to report a limiting long-term illness compared to other communities in England. Read more
The project Regenerating Brownfield Land Using Sustainable Technologies (ROBUST) in IHRR is researching efficient, environmentally sustainable methods to restore land that was previously used for industry that may have high or low concentrations of contaminants in the soil.
In Part 1 of the ROBUST podcast series available on the project’s website, Dr Steve Robertson, an associate researcher on ROBUST, explains what is brownfield land and how it can be redeveloped for future use.
On this blog we have explored research on arsenic contaminated drinking water in Bangladesh in an interview with Dr Manzurul Hassan who was a visiting researcher in IHRR last year, and is a colleague of Prof Peter Atkins based in the Dept of Geography in Durham University who also works on the arsenic problem. Arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh is without a doubt one of the worst environmental problems in the world today affecting the health of millions of people in Bangladesh and other countries in Southeast Asia.