Researchers Get Their Claws into Prawn Research

Researchers Get Their Claws into Prawn Research-image

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Enhancing the survival of discards and developing hatchery technologies Researchers at NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute are part of a new of €2.4 million EU project that aims to develop and enhance the sustainability of the prawn fishery. The research will focus on developing hatchery and ranching technologies, and enhancing the survival of discards. The latter is a contentious issue in ongoing EU Common Fisheries Policy negotiations. Nephrops norvegicus, also known as ‘Dublin Bay prawn’, ‘langoustine’ or ‘scampi’ will be the specific focus of the ‘NEPHROPS’ project. It is being led by NUI Galway and the Orkney Fisheries Association, and will bring together expertise from the fishing industry, technologists and academia across Europe to explore the potential for enhancing the sustainability of inshore fisheries. “The mortality of prawns is generally the result of poor handling and inappropriate discard protocols,” explains Dr Anne Marie Power, a Lecturer in Zoology at NUI Galway. As part of this project we will be developing ways of enhancing the survival of discards from fisheries.” After capture by trawl or creel undersized prawns (often as much as 45% of the catch) may be thrown back and it is estimated that 75% of discards from trawl fishing may die. Another aspect of the project is to develop hatchery technology suitable for use by groups of local fishermen interested in enhancing their fishery by releasing juveniles onto suitable grounds. “In order for this research to be successful, we will need to understand better what makes good grounds for prawns, how they behave when they are released and what can be done to enhance survival at the critical release stage”, said Dr Power. The main areas of work for researchers at the Ryan Institute are the identification of suitable inshore prawn habitats, as well as mapping and tagging studies to examine movement of animals. Growth trials will be conducted at the University’s Carna Aquaculture Research facility. The project leaders within NUI Galway are Dr Anne Marie Power and Professor Mark Johnson, who is also overall scientific leader for the NEPHROPS consortium. Professor Johnson commented: “Nephrops is a really important fishery in Ireland due to its economic value. This is a great opportunity to work with industrial partners, especially pot fishermen, to provide more opportunities to sustainably develop the resource.” The project will also include close liaison with Dr Colm Lordan of the Marine Institute. The University’s element of the project is worth €540,000. Other research institutions involved are University of Hull, Swansea University, Goteborg University and the Technology Institute in Norway.The research has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme managed by REA Research Executive Agency under grant agreement no. 286903.   For more information and a full list of contacts visit: ENDS

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Former NUI Galway Student to Present Channel 4 Coverage of the Paralympics in London

Former NUI Galway Student to Present Channel 4 Coverage of the Paralympics in London-image

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Daráine Mulvihill a former student of the Ard-Dioplóma i gCumarsáid Fheidhmeach, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge will this week form part of Channel 4’s Paralympics coverage of the London Games which began on 29 August. Daráine, who hails from Ashbourne, Co. Meath was awarded the ESB/Rehab Young Person of the Year Award in 2002 and was a member of the State Council, working in an advisory capacity to the President.   In 2006 while completing her postgraduate studies with NUI Galway, Daráine was awarded the RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta Gold Medal for achieving the highest standard on the Ard-Dioplóma i gCumarsáid Fheidhmeach.  While commenting on her time at NUI Galway, Daráine said: “I very much enjoyed my year with Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, learning many new and invaluable skills which are now central to my new role with Channel 4.” After finishing the Ard-Dioplóma i gCumarsáid Fheidhmeach, Daráine worked in the RTÉ children’s programming department as well as the BBC and the international sports channel ESPN.  Viewers can tune into Channel 4’s Paralympics coverage, featuring Daráine from the 29th August through until the 9th of September. ENDS Iar-mhac Léinn de chuid OÉ Gaillimh mar Láithreoir ag Channel 4 do na Cluichí Paralimpeacha Beidh Daráine Mulvihill, iar-mhac léinn de chuid Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge mar láithreoir leis an gcainéal teilifíse, Channel 4, le linn na gcluichí Paralimpeacha a thosaigh an 29 Lúnasa. Is as Baile Trasna, Cill Dhéagláin, Co. na Mí, do Dharáine.  Bronnadh Gradam BSL/Rehab Ghaiscíoch Óg na Bliana uirthi in 2002 agus bhí sí ina ball den Chomhairle Stáit, údarás comhairle a thugann cúnamh don Uachtarán. D’fhreastal Daráine ar an tArd-Dioplóma i gCumarsáid Fheidhmeach, OÉ, Gaillimh in 2005 – 2006 agus bronnadh Bonn Óir Raidió na Gaeltachta uirthi don té is fearr a bhain caighdeán amach ar an gcúrsa.  Agus í ag tagairt don tréimhse a chaith sí leis an Acadamh, dúirt Daráine gur: “Thaitin an bhliain a chaith mé san Acadamh go mór liom, bhain mé scileanna den scoth amach agus gan an cúrsa ní bheadh mé ag tabhairt faoin ról atá agam anois.” D’éirigh le Daráine obair a fháil in RTÉ tar éis di an cúrsa a chur i gcrích agus  tá obair déanta ag Daráine ó shin i leith leis an BBC agus leis an gcainéal spóirt, ESPN, i measc go leor eile.  Beidh Daráine le feiceáil ar an scáileán agus í i mbun tráchtaireachta le Channel 4 do na cluichí Paralimpeacha atá ar siúl ón 29 Lúnasa – 09 Meán Fómhair i Londain. CRÍOCH

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Latest Maps of Coral Reefs to Inform Conservation Policy

 Latest Maps of Coral Reefs to Inform Conservation Policy-image

Friday, 31 August 2012

The newest and most detailed maps showing the predicted location of coral reefs in Irish waters were revealed at a conference in NUI Galway this week.  The maps are expected to prove very useful to policymakers, and draw heavily on information contained in the Irish National Seabed survey seafloor bathymetry map – one of the most extensive maps ever produced by a maritime nation. They were presented by NUI Galway PhD candidate, Anna Rengstorf, at a four-day international marine conference ‘Ecosystem Based Management and Monitoring in the Deep Mediterranean and Norht Atlantic’ which concludes today. Over 70 scientists and stakeholders from 15 countries attended the event at NUI Galway to discuss the latest scientific research from two European Union funded projects - CoralFISH and Deepfishman - devoted to the management of deep-sea resources.  The aim of the conference is to produce concrete proposals for the implementation of improved management of deep-sea fisheries and indeed other deep-sea resources taking into account the need to conserve biodiversity. The conference is very timely as the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs, Mde. Damanaki has proposed changes to the Deep-Sea Access Regime governing the licensing of boats wanting to fish deep-sea species. The Commissioner has proposed that trawling and all bottom contact fishing gears should be phased out over a two year period. This has been met with applause by conservationists but with less enthusiasm by fishermen. Dr Anthony Grehan, of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, who is hosting the conference said: “The need to develop the tools and a strategy for the implementation of maritime spatial planning is becoming increasingly urgent.  Competition for deep-sea resources is becoming more intense while the need to ensure adequate conservation of biodiversity - and genetic variety - is a priority for the future health of the planet.”  One approach that is gaining favour is the development of habitat suitability modeling that takes information about where species or habitats occur from detailed maps and extrapolates it to produce predicted distribution maps over much larger areas. NUI Galway is one of the pioneers of applying this approach in the deep-sea.  The maps produced by Ms Rengstorf, who is a Geological Survey of Ireland Griffiths Programme post-graduate awardee, will feed into this approach. Dr Grehan who supervises the project said, “these maps are statistically robust and reduce the need for expensive field mapping while providing sufficient detail for policymakers and managers to enable activity zoning as a key component in the implementation of a any future maritime spatial plan.” Dr Grehan added this is definitely the way forward and will likely become a key component of the implementation of the ‘Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth - An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland’.  The Government plan was launched by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD at the Marine Institute, Galway last month with the intention of doubling the value of Ireland’s ocean wealth to 2.4% of GDP by 2030 and increasing the turnover from our ocean economy to more than €6.4bn by 2020. -ends-

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Invertebrates on the brink

Invertebrates on the brink-image

Friday, 31 August 2012

New report reveals conservation status of the world’s invertebrates One fifth of the world’s invertebrates may be heading for extinction according to ‘Spineless’, a report published today (Friday 31 August) by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), in conjunction with IUCN and the IUCN Species Survival Commission.  Digging up earthworms, chasing butterflies and collecting clam shells could become a thing of the past if enough isn’t done to protect invertebrates. And if they disappear, humans could soon follow. These critters form the basis of many of the essential benefits that nature provides; earthworms recycle waste nutrients, coral reefs support a myriad of life forms and bees help pollinate crops. More than 12,000 invertebrates from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species were reviewed by conservation scientists who discovered freshwater species to be under the highest risk of extinction, followed closely by terrestrial and marine invertebrates. Dr Louise Allcock of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway was one of the co-authors of the report.   The findings from this initial group of global, regional and national assessments provide important insight into the overall status of invertebrates. Together they indicate that the threat status of invertebrates is likely very similar to that of vertebrates and plants. Invertebrates are at risk from a variety of threats.  Molluscs such as thick shelled river mussels suffer from pollution from agricultural sources and dam construction, which affects the quality of the water they live in.  Crayfish such as the noble crayfish, are at risk from the impact of invasive species and diseases.  What starts off as a local decline could lead to a global extinction, and recognising the growing pressures on invertebrates is critical to informing more effective conservation.  Dr Ben Collen, head of the Indicators and Assessments unit at ZSL says: “Invertebrates constitute almost 80 per cent of the world’s species, and a staggering one in five species could be at risk of extinction. While the cost of saving them will be expensive, the cost of ignorance to their plight appears to be even greater”. The highest risk of extinction tends to be associated with species that are less mobile and are only found in small geographical areas. For example, vertebrate amphibians and invertebrate freshwater molluscs both face high levels of threat – around one third of species. In contrast, invertebrate species which are more mobile like dragonflies and butterflies face a similar threat to that of birds, and around one tenth of species are at risk. ZSL’s Director of Conservation, Professor Jonathan Baillie added: “We knew that roughly one fifth of vertebrates and plants were threatened with extinction, but it was not clear if this was representative of the small spineless creatures that make up the majority of life on the planet. The initial findings in this report indicate that 20% of all species may be threatened.  This is particularly concerning as we are dependent on these spineless creatures for our very survival.” Invertebrates not only provide a bewilderingly rich and varied component of the natural world, they are our natural capital; the engineers of the many benefits which humans accumulate from an intact and fully functioning environment. “In the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) we are now trying to expand the number of invertebrates species assessed for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species,” said Dr Simon Stuart, Chair, IUCN Species Survival Commission. “The early results of this work are included in this book. I very much hope that the expansion of conservation-related information on invertebrates will give them a much higher conservation profile in future.” “We need to successfully communicate the significance and value of invertebrate life, if we are to rescue the many thousands of threatened species from the brink of extinction.” said Richard Edwards, Chief Executive of Wildscreen, an IUCN Red List partner working to help raise the public profile of the world’s threatened species, through the power of wildlife imagery. “This important report highlights the impact we are having on the world’s invertebrate biodiversity, species we all rely on for healthy natural systems, sustainable livelihoods and human well-being." Human demand for resources is continually increasing the pressure on invertebrate populations. This report paints a clear picture of how biodiversity is changing, and will enable experts to implement successful conservation plans for those invertebrates which are struggling to survive. ZSL will be presenting ‘Spineless: Status and Trends of the World’s Invertebrates’ at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Jeju on 7 September.   ENDS

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July 2012

NUI Galway Physicist Wins International Award

NUI Galway Physicist Wins International Award-image

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

NUI Galway’s Professor Colin O’Dowd has been awarded the Appleton Medal by the Institute of Physics for his ‘distinguished research in environmental and atmospheric physics’. In particular, the NUI Galway physicist was lauded for his work on the formation and transformation of aerosols, the tiny particles which can effect cloud formation and impact climate change. Sir Edward Appleton was a British physicist who received the Nobel Prize in 1947 for his achievements in ionospheric physics. His experiments proved the existence of a layer of ionised gas in the upper atmosphere, known now as the Appleton layer. The Institute of Physics, which has its headquarters in London, awards the medal every two years to identify and honour physicists who are today making remarkable contributions to science. At NUI Galway, Colin O’Dowd is Professor in the School of Physics and Director of the Ryan Institute’s Centre for Climate & Air Pollution Studies. Commenting on his award, he said: “It is a great honour to be recognised by as prestigious an organisation as the Institute of Physics, especially as this particular accolade dates back to 1941. This award is an indicator of the international standing of research carried out at NUI Galway.” Professor O’Dowd is internationally renowned for his research into atmospheric composition, air pollution and climate change and has previously received the Smoluchowski Award and a Doctorate of Science from the University of Manchester for his research achievements.  Much of his work involves NUI Galway’s Mace Head atmospherics research station, which is one of the most advanced and sophisticated research stations of its kind. Data from Mace Head, located in Connemara, is used by climatologists and modellers around the world to predict global climate change. Previously, Professor O’Dowd’s research has been recognised through the award of Fellow of both the Institute of Physics and the Royal Meteorological Society and with Membership of the Royal Irish Academy, the latter being regarded as the highest academic honor within Ireland. -ends-

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Stem Cells have Commercial Potential for Ireland

Stem Cells have Commercial Potential for Ireland-image

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Ireland has the capacity to be an international centre for commercialisation in the field of regenerative medicine, delegates at an international stem cell conference in NUI Galway heard today. Reflecting this potential, new Irish company Orbsen Therapeutics is developing proprietary technologies designed to isolate stem cells. The NUI Galway spin-out is targeting the rapidly maturing and expanding regenerative medicine market, which is expected to grow to $118 billion next year. Frank Barry is Professor of Cellular Therapy at NUI Galway, Director of Orbsen Therapeutics, and organiser of the Mesenchymal Stem Cell Conference which opened yesterday. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are a type of adult stem cell, and this event brings together the world’s leading scientists in the field to discuss their latest ideas and findings. This is the first major stem cell conference to take place in Ireland, and is looking at all aspects of adult stem cells, from basic biology to manufacturing to clinical trials and therapeutics. Stem cells hold great promise as an alternative to drugs and surgical procedures for treating a wide range of medical conditions including heart disease, arterial disease of the limbs, diabetes complications, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. The treatment potential of stem cells is linked to their natural capacity to dampen inflammation and promote healing, repair and regeneration of damaged tissues. According to Professor Barry: “Ireland has a strong research base in adult stem cell therapy and has the capcacity for advanced stem cell bioprocessing. There is huge potential in this market and we anticipate that there will be extraordinary growth over the next 5-10 years. There are currently over 400 regenerative medicine products on the market with many more in development.” Orbsen Therapeutics has developed a clear pipeline of clinical indications which they hope, using their proprietary technologies, to bring through to clinical trial over the coming years. These include osteoarthritis, acute lung injury syndrome, diabetic foot ulcer, critical limb ischemia and others.   “Combining the utility, novelty and the value of its technologies, Orbsen is well placed to take advantage of the many opportunities in this fast moving and important emerging market”, said Brian Molloy, CEO of Orbsen Theraepeutics. Orbsen Therapeutics Limited was formed as a spin out company to develop and commercialise new intellectual property built up by researchers at the SFI-funded Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway. Scientists at NUI Galway are investigating how adult stems cells might be used to develop new treatments for vascular disease, osteoarthritis and lung injury. The University has become a leading centre of translational research in adult stem cells involving its National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) and REMEDI. The conference is supported by Orbsen Therapeutics, Science Foundation Ireland, NUI Galway and Fáilte Ireland. -ends-

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NUI Galway Crew First in their Class in 2012 Round Ireland Yacht Race

NUI Galway Crew First in their Class in 2012 Round Ireland Yacht Race-image

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

A crew of ten NUI Galway students and graduates finished sixth place in the overall standings, and first in their class, in the 2012 Round Ireland Yacht Race. The team, one of the youngest to compete in the competition, was the second Irish boat to cross the finishing line in their 38-ft racing yacht which they chartered especially for the race. The Round Ireland Yacht Race is a 1400km non-stop circumnavigation of Ireland by sea and is held every two years. The NUI Galway crew completed the race in 5 days, 2 hours and 6 minutes. NUI Galway crew member, Joan Mulloy, said: “It was a tough race and very closely fought with a boat the same as ours in our class. The training and preparation paid off as we consistently had better boat speed than our competitors. The last two days of the race were very tough with light winds and a strong current against to us to start. The wind then picked up and we had an upwind slog down the Irish Sea.” Ms Mulloy added: “Wicklow Sailing Club surely was a welcome sight and after five days and two hours at sea we were very happy to see here family and friends waiting for us on the pier. A massive thank you is owed to all of our supporters and those who followed us on the live race tracker.” The NUI Galway crew was made up of students and graduates from various disciplines including engineering, science and commerce. NUI Galway crew skipper Cathal Clarke said: “I am delighted that we have come away with a result that reflects the effort put in by the whole crew in training, preparation and during the race. On behalf of the crew I would express gratitude both to the University and the wider community for the enthusiasm and strong support we have received; it has made the whole campaign possible.” Pat Morgan, Vice-President for the Student Experience at NUI Galway, said: “We are hugely proud of the NUI Galway crew. The determination and drive of this crew is to be admired, especially given that they are one of the youngest crews to participate in the race. They have worked very hard and displayed incredible determination and dedication over recent months in their preparation for the race. The University actively promotes leadership and team building skills and is delighted to support this crew to further develop these attributes as they compete in the Round Ireland Race. We congratulate them on this great success.” -ENDS-    

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President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins finds Alma Mater in Global Village

President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins finds Alma Mater in Global Village -image

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

NUI Galway Pavilion attracts thousands of visitors at Volvo Ocean Race Finale Festival The relocation of NUI Galway’s Quadrangle to the Global Village last week, created somewhat of a stir locally where the University created a partial replica of its Quadrangle building, to front its Pavilion at the Global Village during the Volvo Ocean Race. NUI Galway graduate and now President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins paid a special visit to see for himself how his Alma Mater looked in South Park. The Global Village is a free exhibition arena, open for the duration of the festival, located in South Park. The NUI Galway pavilion has been a central attraction, recreating a sense of the University’s iconic Quadrangle building, which dates back to 1845. Inside, the NUI Galway pavilion looks to the future, with interactive demonstrations and exhibitions showcasing the cutting-edge innovation and research for which the University has a world-wide reputation. “This is the largest sporting event in Ireland this year, and a wonderful opportunity to promote all that is great about Galway”, said NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne. “The event had almost 100,000 visitors to the City last time round, over half of whom came from abroad, with significant international media reach also. Our whole-hearted involvement, in the volunteering aspects of this event and in the exhibitions, is a reflection of the importance of reaching such a world-wide audience.” The NUI Galway pavilion, which will remain until the end of the festival, features four zones based on themes of Exploration, Innovation, Creativity and Go Global as well as Ideas Lab. Activities also include an Alumni Family Day to which all NUI Galway graduates are invited on Sunday, 8 July. NUI Galway has also been the official education partner of Volvo Ocean Race Galway’s volunteering programme, bringing its considerable experience in the field of volunteering and community engagement to the event to recruit the ‘small army’ of volunteers needed to support the overall festival. As well as NUI Galway having a presence in the Innovation and Marine Pillars at the Global Village, a separate Speaker Session pavilion in the Global Village has featured some of NUI Galway’s experts. In addition, the Inmarsat Film Lecture in association with NUI Galway’s Huston School of Film & Digital Media takes place on Thursday, 5 July, presenting a unique sense of what is required of an extreme sports reporter onboard a multi-million dollar round the world racing yacht. Official Festival App The official ‘Volvo Ocean Race Festival Galway’ App, specifically designed for the event, was the creation of a team of researchers based at the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) in NUI Galway. The free app, billed as a must for all visitors to Galway during the festival, providing maps, a full festival programme and lots of visitor information about Galway City. With tens of thousands of visitors in Galway for the festival, the app allows individuals to make the most of the experience, while able to track their friends and network with groups. Vice-Director of DERI, Professor Manfred Hauswirth, said: “This app demonstrates the leading role of DERI in cyber-physical systems. DERI technology makes real-world sensor input easy to use in any application.” With over 140 researchers, DERI is the largest web science institute of its kind in the world, but were thrilled to get behind this local project as DERI’s Brian Wall explains: “We really embraced the whole concept of ‘get onboard’ for the festival, so developed this unique app which is a must for every visitor.” The app is available for free from the Apple App Store and from the Google Play Android store. The app will be updated and improved as new information becomes available so please check for updates during the festival. Find out more about the University’s involvement at  -ends-

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Galway Arts Festival and NUI Galway’s Volunteer and Selected Partnership

Galway Arts Festival and NUI Galway’s Volunteer and Selected Partnership-image

Monday, 2 July 2012

Galway Arts Festival and NUI Galway announced details of their 2012 partnership on Monday, 2 July. This is the second year of the partnership and will focus on several different initiatives. NUI Galway will partner the 35th Galway Arts Festival’s Volunteer Programme where the University is one of the leaders in the field of volunteerism through its ALIVE programme. SELECTED is an artist development strand of the Festival for emerging artists and producers developed by NUI Galway and the Festival in 2011. The programme will be expanded and developed in 2012 and will see six students from the MA in Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway take part in the initiative, which will allow them full access to every aspect of the Festival.  The programme will offer the students the opportunity to see how a Festival of this magnitude is put together while also attending shows, post-show talks and getting a hands-on experience from performers and organisers. The students will also have the opportunity to meet with visiting international Festival Directors. Commenting on the SELECTED Programme, Galway Arts Festival's Artistic Director, Paul Fahy said, "SELECTED is amongst the most exciting of initiatives that the Festival has introduced in the past few years. It affords participants a brilliant opportunity to see a wide variety of the programme on offer and to gain insight through a series of seminars with world leading producers, curators, directors and artists of the professional arts world. Taking part in these seminars are key executives from Edinburgh Festival, London’s National Theatre and leading Irish artists and producers amongst many others.” NUI Galway’s Dr Patrick Longergan added, “NUI Galway is delighted to be involved in the SELECTED programme again this year. SELECTED gives our students the opportunity to meet with some of the world's great artists in one of the world's great arts festivals. That involvement has a massive impact, not only on our students' education but also on their future careers as writers, directors, producers and so on. SELECTED is one of the key examples of how our drama and theatre programmes set out to blend excellent academic tuition with world-class practical experiences. It is also one of the major ways in which NUI Galway is involved in the Galway Arts Festival - allowing us to play our part in making Galway Ireland's cultural capital, and in developing future generations of Irish artists.” In 2012 NUI Galway will also partner with the Festival on a new strand of programming called First Thought Talks. This new initiative will feature a series of lectures, talks and “in conversations with” on the subject of creativity and will take place during this year’s Festival. Festival Chief Executive, John Crumlish commented, "The Festival is delighted that NUI Galway will once again be partnering the Festival on a number of initiatives. The continuing support for both the Festival Volunteer and SELECTED programmes is very important and also very exciting while the new partnership focused on The First Thought Talks will permit this new strand of programming to develop significantly over the next number of years.” For further information on the festival, bookings and GAFTV previews and exclusive interviews visit Ends    

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Major New Research, funded by the EPA, Details New Links Between Water Quality and Health

Major New Research, funded by the EPA, Details New Links Between Water Quality and Health-image

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published the results of significant research completed by a NUI Galway research team led by Professor Martin Cormican.  The research details new links between water quality and health. The report, entitled Enhancing Human Health through Improved Water Quality, provides an overview of this research and includes new data on: How the growing global emergency of antibiotic resistant bacteria is connected to our water.  It demonstrates how widespread the problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria has become and adds to the evidence that there is a need to extend current campaigns to reduce the use of antibiotics in human and animal healthcare.  The findings of this part of the research will feature on RTE’s The Science Squad tomorrow, Thursday, 5 July, at 8.30pm. How DNA technology can be used to find disease-causing bacteria and viruses in water.  It demonstrates how bacterial contamination of water can be tracked back to sources such as humans or animals (e.g. cows or pigs), leading to faster corrective actions. How heavy rainfall can result in sudden changes in water quality as bacterial contamination gets washed into groundwater from farm sources and septic tanks.   The research is also important for families and businesses using private wells as it shows how poorly protected wells or water treatment can have an adverse impact on their health. Key recommendations include: Reducing the use of antibiotics in human and animal healthcare. Classifying water sources - to highlight those at greatest risk. Applying computer models to predict changes in water quality, so that it is possible to plan and respond. Implementing total quality management systems approach to water treatment plants, as operational failure is identified as a major risk. The need for proper well construction and water treatment and protection of water sources from contamination from farms, septic tanks or other sources. Dara Lynott, EPA Director, said: “The rainfall that renews our rivers, lakes and ground water is the foundation for good health as well as an important resource for tourism, farming and industry.  It is important to recognise and deal with the threats to water quality and health which are highlighted in this project. But it is also important to see the opportunities identified for Ireland to develop and provide tools for monitoring and addressing the challenge of protecting our water resources.” Professor Martin Cormican, NUI Galway, lead author of the report, said: “Water is an increasingly scarce resource in an increasingly crowded world.  We are privileged to have a lot of it and we have tended to take it for granted.  This project is part of a process of developing the science and the policies to treat water for what it is – the foundation of life and health for the people of Ireland and a tremendous sustainable natural asset in our engagement with the rest of the world.” This research was conducted in the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway and in UCD, with partners in the HSE and local authorities.  The full report, Enhancing Human Health through Improved Water Quality, is available on the EPA website at: ENDS  

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