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

Brighton joins global efforts to tackle antimicrobial resistance

The university’s Professor Huw Taylor has joined world experts to draw up an action plan to fight antimicrobial resistant (AMR) disease transmission through the water cycle.

More than 700,000 people worldwide die every year from infection from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the threat is increasing every year. A UK government report warns that by 2050, 10 million people worldwide will be suffering from life-threatening infections from these bacteria if the issue is not urgently tackled.

Professor Taylor, Professor of Microbial Ecology, in 2015 led an international team that advised the World Health Organization (WHO) on how to address the potential spread of Ebola through the water cycle through improved emergency sanitation measures.

He is now lending his expertise to this new world-wide effort to tackle the problem of antimicrobial resistance and recently joined a host of experts at a meeting in the Netherlands organised by the WHO and KWR, a leading international water research institute.

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!

“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

 

 

Castles and Roses: University of Brighton research project

University of Brighton research project helps Canal and River Trust develop canal heritage in post-industrial Manchester 

As part of the European Waterways Heritages project, SECP researchers Abigail Wincott and Paul Gilchrist, with PI Professor Neil Ravenscroft, have unveiled three new canal heritage trails for three under-appreciated areas of Manchester.

For the two-year project, the team looked at everything from developers’ brochures to 19th century novels to understand how canal heritage heritage has been envisioned in post-industrial regeneration projects. The research has been used to identify untapped resources which can help local groups use heritage for leisure, tourism and community-building projects.

The team found that existing local development of these inland waterways as heritage assets has  emphasised a particular kind of Victorian industrial heritage, with an almost complete neglect of other forms, in particular the heritage of the canal boats and the people who have lived and worked on the canals, and used them for leisure, even in the industrial heyday. Why many towns and cities have 19th century industrial and mercantile heritage, canal boats are unique to canal network and their omission is a wasted opportunity.

The canal boat aesthetic challenges the dominant aesthetic of industrial heritage in two ways. It appears domestic and feminine, painted in pretty, clashing colours with floral scenes. Intimate domestic details are often on display on the outside of the boats, like plant pots, shoes and mugs of tea.

The vivid and clashing colours and the castles and roses style of decoration have also often been assumed to be foreign in origin, but they are part of a long British tradition of working people decorating the vehicles of their trades with impressive carving and art work.

Together with a range of local community groups and the Canal and River Trust, who manage the waterways, the Brighton team have produced multimedia heritage trails that put the boats back into canal heritage.

These local stakeholders hope the trails will tempt locals to walk the canals and reclaim their very special canalside heritage.

The trails are available on the Izi.travel website and mobile app, and will soon be released on a bespoke app, designed by colleagues in the Netherlands. The materials have been uploaded to a database and GIS maps, which can be handed over to local organisations to continue to produce their own heritage itineraries and allow them to capitalise on the unique heritage of Britain’s canal network.

The trails can be found on the project blog:

https://waterwaysheritage.wordpress.com/

Twitter updates: @wwheritage

 

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

Your country’s air needs you!

“Everyone has a part to play in reducing air pollution that is killing as many as 50,000 people every year in the UK,” says Dr Kevin Wyche, lecturer on our Geography BA(Hons) course.

He was commenting on BBC Sussex Radio about latest figures showing pollution levels in parts of Brighton and Hove remain above EU and UK standards, and how London breached its limits for the entire year only a few days into 2017.

Dr Wyche, who with Dr Kirsty Smallbone launched a £250,000 advanced air quality monitoring station at Falmer in 2015, said reducing pollution was a complex issue: “It’s politically sensitive – should we ban all cars from city centres? It’s not politically favourable for a politician to say that.”

All of us, he said, has a part to play in cutting pollution: “We all like to use our cars and we all have gadgets at home which use electricity which comes from power stations which are pumping out all sorts of different gases and particles into the atmosphere.”

The Joaquin Advanced Air Quality Station (JAAQS), opened by Brighton MP Caroline Lucas, is the first in the UK which can detect harmful nano-sized particles and their gaseous precursors.

Dr Wyche expects to publish its first year’s findings from the station in the next few weeks and there are plans for UK’s first outreach programme taking their work into primary and secondary schools. A website on the station’s work is scheduled to be launched next month. Continue reading