Government is too slow on car pollution

Our Head of School and a lead researcher on air pollution, Dr Kirsty Smallbone, has urged the Government to bring forwards its plans to ban new diesel and petrol cars from 2040.

She said: “Let’s go for 10 years time, plenty of time for the market to adjust, for a changeover in van and car fleet renewals and plenty of time for the government to develop incentive schemes to encourage vehicle trade-ins to meet the deadline.”

Dr Smallbone said over 50,000 people die each year in the UK from air pollution-related diseases, costing the NHS is around 16% of its total budget: “Why is this not declared a public health crisis public health crisis which demands immediate action?

“After all, liver diseases related to heavy drinking kill 12,300 people per year and this is considered a public health emergency.”

Dr Smallbone and lecturer Dr Kevin Wyche are studying ultra-fine particles which can pass through the lung alveoli and contaminate organs including the brain.

Their data comes from the university’s state-of-the-art £250,000 advanced air pollution monitoring station based at its campus in Falmer and funded by the EU’s Interreg IVB NWE programme and the University of Brighton as part of the Joint Air Quality Initiative (JOAQUIN, www.cleanerairbetterhealth). Continue reading

Re-naturing cities

Dr Mary Gearey, Research Fellow in our school, joined 40 other British and Brazilian researchers for a four day, Newton funded workshop in July, exploring methods, strategies and theories in support of ‘re-naturing cities’. The event was held in Goiania, Brazil, Mary tells us more about it here.

The Newton funded workshop brought together researchers from a wide range of disciplines including Architecture, Ecology, Public Health, Urban Planning, Human Geography, Soil Science and Land Management to share expertise around developing green infrastructure in highly dense urban spaces. My work on public perceptions in support of urban wetlands expansion contributed to a series of round-table seminars which explored a wide range of subjects from improving green roof structures to expand biodiversity, to extending community participation in developing public spaces through growing fruit, vegetables and flowers in street side rain gardens.

Complementing existing ‘grey’ infrastructure – the buildings, roads, transport networks which are the fundamentals of city spaces – with ‘green’ infrastructure – city parks, tree lined greenway cycle paths and wilder areas such as urban wetlands – offers urban dwellers the chance to improve their health and well-being in a range of ways. From cooling down the ‘heat island’ effect of cities, both now and with a view to future climate change impacts, as well as improving air and water quality, expanding nature into cities via urban parks, green ‘wedges’ of land set aside for plants and trees and softening buildings through living walls and mobile gardens housed in skips, offers city dwellers a respite from noise and traffic fumes and improves access to nature for everyone, not just wealthier residents.

This Newton funded workshop has demonstrated that the research I currently undertake within SET exploring the value of wetlands for local communities as part of a Natural England Research Council (NERC) project alongside Professors Neil Ravenscroft and Andrew Church has an international resonance and impact, and highlights the wonderfully diverse range of work undertaken by University of Brighton researchers.

This is my second time in Brazil, disseminating and undertaking research on behalf of SET and the University of Brighton. In November I worked with Physical Geographers at UNIVALI University in the South of the country, supported by a Santander Bank travel grant.

Both times in Brazil I’ve got close up and personal with the wildlife; last time it was a surprise encounter with a rainforest bush rat in a rangers’ toilet, this time with this very cute monkey (pictured). We found him in our hosts’ campus at the Federal University of Goias and thought he was adorable, rolling around on the floor and clapping his hands– until we discovered he was working a con act with another monkey who was going through people’s bags searching for food when we were distracted. What a cheeky monkey!

It’s time to take air pollution seriously

The air monitoring station (LtoR) Kevin Wyche Kirsty Smallbone Keith Taylor and Debra Humphris

Our Vice-Chancellor has called on the Government to take more notice of evidence pointing to an air pollution crisis facing the planet.
Professor Debra Humphris was commenting after scientists from our school presented new research showing how society was facing a “public health timebomb”.
They told how air pollution is linked to 50,000 premature deaths in the UK every year, 9,400 in London and 430,000 in the EU as a whole, through heart disease, asthma, and even dementia.
Lead researchers, Dr Kirsty Smallbone, Head of the School of Environment and Technology, and lecturer Dr Kevin Wyche, are studying ultra-fine particles which can pass through the lung alveoli and contaminate organs including the brain.
Their data comes from the university’s state-of-the-art £250,000 advanced air pollution monitoring station based at its campus in Falmer and funded by the EU’s Interreg IVB NWE programme and the University of Brighton as part of the Joint Air Quality Initiative (JOAQUIN, www.cleanerairbetterhealth). Continue reading

Brains at the Bevy

Join Dr Kirsty Smallbone, our Head of School, for a talk and a bevy at the next Brains at the Bevy event on 26 July, 6-7pm. Kirsty will be talking about ‘Local Air Pollution: Our Health and Our Environment.”

“Those most at risk from local air pollution are the elderly, children and those with heart or lung conditions. Without preaching, I would like to talk about the problems of air pollution, where it comes from, how it affects us, our children, our parents and our environment and importantly, discuss what may be the best ways to reduce our exposure to it,” explains Kirsty.

Brains at the Bevy are a series of short and enlightening talks from local academics and all are welcome to attend. The talks take place at The Bevendean Community Pub in Moulsecoomb and each talk will last around an hour with plenty of time for questions and discussion. 

These free talks are organised by the Bevy and Community University Partnership Programme at the University of Brighton and funded by the Sussex Learning Network. Tea and coffee will be provided during the talk and everyone is welcome to stay on afterwards to enjoy the lovely food and drink available at the Bevy.

See you there!

Support for female researchers in STEMM

As part of International Women in Engineering Day 2017, Dr Mary Geary, research fellow in our school, shares her experience of a career in STEMM research and the support she received from the University of Brighton on returning to STEMM research after a career break.

Find out more here.

“Air Pollution – Plans to Tackle a Public Health Emergency” Monday 17 July 2017 – 18.00 – 20.00 hours – Brighthelm Centre

Venue:  Brighthelm Centre, North Road, Brighton BN 1YD (Stanmer Room)

You’re invited to a public meeting to discuss one of the most pressing environmental and health issues in Britain today; air pollution.

Air pollution is a public health emergency. Poor air quality is linked to diseases such as stroke, lung cancer, respiratory diseases and heart disease as well as 40,000 premature deaths in Britain every year. Levels of nitrogen dioxide, primarily from diesel traffic, have exceeded EU legal limits in almost 90% of urban areas in the UK since 2010 – they are particularly bad across Sussex and the South East.

Join Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for South East England and Dr Kirsty Smallbone, Head of School at Brighton University’s School of Environment and Technology to discuss how we can clean up our air.

Here is an abstract from Keith Taylor’s keynote speech

“As a member of both the European Parliament’s Transport and Environment committees, I am confronted on a daily basis with the discrepancy between the current approach to ensure mobility across Europe and the pressure this puts on our air and resources and the planet’s climate. Brussels and London, two cities between which I regularly travel, are proven to be among the most polluted and congested cities in all of Europe. Our transport sector is on an unsustainable path that puts at stake our climate, public health and life quality.

It is crystal clear that we are facing a very serious public health crisis. Air quality finally and urgently needs to be put at the core of the Government’s agenda. There is no more time to waste – we need bold policies and stringent implementation of measures to reduce air pollution.”

Our expert panellists will address the urgency with which we need to tackle the air quality challenge we face and discuss measures that can reduce dangerous air pollution levels in Brighton, and across the country.

Refreshments will be provided.

This event is FREE to attend, but places are limited, so please register your interest via Eventbrite http://: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/air-pollution-plans-to-tackle-a-public-health-emergency-tickets-34514246039.

Speakers:
Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South East England
Dr Kirsty Smallbone, Head of School at the School of Environment and Technology, University of Brighton

Moderator: Jo Prior, Regional Liaison Officer to Keith Taylor MEP

 

 

Moulsecoomb Campus Open Day

Open days are a great way to find out about the local area and the campus where you will be studying. You will also be able to hear more about your chosen subject and talk to our staff and current students.

If you are thinking of beginning your studies in 2018 come along to our campus open day on Saturday 17 June. Find out more about open days on our website.

School BBQ

Take a well earned break from end of semester revision and join us for some fun outdoor games, a BBQ and a some drinks on Friday 19 May. Open to all students and staff in our school. Let Daisy Kyle in the school office know if you are coming along.
See you there!
Dr Cyprian Njue , Student Support and Guidance Tutor

Dinosaur expert’s double award

The University of Brighton’s dinosaur expert, Dr Susannah Maidment, has won two top awards.

Dr Susannah Maidment has collected the Palaeontological Association’s Hodson Award for her 10 years research following her PhD and her contribution to science.

Her nominee said: “Susie is an outstanding early career palaeontologist who has made several highly significant and substantial novel research contributions. She has developed a strong international research reputation, generated significant external grant funding, and played an important role in promoting palaeontology through her outreach and media activities.”

Dr Maidment has also received an award from the Geological Society’s Lyell Fund, given to contributors to the earth sciences on the basis of noteworthy published research.

Her nominee said: “Susie is an outstanding palaeontologist with a track record of collaborative, multidisciplinary research that spans biology, palaeontology, sedimentology, and stratigraphy.

“She has already made numerous significant achievements in her career, as demonstrated by a series of well-regarded and cited high-profile papers. She brings a rare combination of laboratory and fieldwork skills to her research, and is an excellent communicator of her science to academia and the wider public. Susie is firmly on course to develop into a true international leader within palaeobiology

Dr Maidment’s research hit the headlines in 2015 when she and a collaborator discovered blood cells preserved in 75-million-year-old dinosaur bone.

She said: “I’m extremely honoured and absolutely delighted to receive these awards. As a new member of staff, I hope to be able to build on these awards and develop an internationally-recognised research group in palaeobiology at the University of Brighton.”

For more information on Dr Maidment’s research click here

Source: Dinosaur expert’s double award

Our INTREPID Dr Geary

Barcelona’s water of life: el agua de la vida!

Dr Geary travelled to Barcelona last month as part of an EU ‘Co-operation in Science and Technology’ initiative called the INTREPID training school. Here is her diary of the trip.

In the famous Catalan fairy story ‚‘The Water of Life‘, also known by its original name ‘El agua de la vida’, only the deliverance of the water of life, sourced from a magic spring in the hills, can save a family from being turned to stone by an evil giant. It is the daughter of the family who outsmarts the ogre and restores life with the water. The life of her own family, of her petrified neighbours and of her surroundings are all rejuvanated as the water she spills on the return from the mountain turns everything green and fecund and frees the people from the giant’s curse. That water is still seen as the very essence of Catalan life is clear throughout the urban fabric of its capital city.

Wedged between the Mediterranean Sea and the estuaries of the Llobregat and Besos rivers and with the Serra de Collserola mountain range as its backdrop, Barcelona is a water-centric city fiercely proud of its heritage. As the economic powerhouse of Catalonia, its historic wealth was built around its port, driving its shipping, mercantile, leather and textile industries. The evidence of that financial prowess – Barcelona’s architectural splendour – attracts millions of tourists every year. Power, water, wealth have historically connected together to forge a city of almost 2 million residents; whose population rises threefold every year with almost 6 million visitors per annum.

As one of those 6 million visitors I travelled to Barcelona in early February this year as part of an EU ‘Co-operation in Science and Technology’ initiative called the INTREPID training school. My fellow Sustainable Futures researchers and I were collaborating to work together in a four day workshop, sharing experiences and learning together how interdisciplinary collaboration is at the heart of undertaking sustainability research. Working across disciplines – we were a disparate group of ecologists, urban planners, civil engineers, environmental lawyers, social scientists amongst others –we discussed how it is possible to try to make connections amidst and outside of our own scientific perspectives to find holistic pragmatic solutions to urgent, real world problems. As a Research Fellow based in SET, understanding how communities understand, articulate and action changes in their local water environments is crucial. It helps me contextualise how macro influences are interpreted and responded to, and what steps and strategies policy makers and governance bodies need to undertake to make sustainability science comprehensible and relevant. Continue reading