Cash boost for pollution research

A research project looking to make our cities and their residents healthier and cleaner has received a £1.8 million cash boost.

The four-year project investigating the effects of urban pollution on human health and the environment will be led by the University of Surrey and has been awarded the grant from the EPSRC under its Sustainable Urban Environment programme.

The project aims to provide a tool for government, industry and NGOs to assess, and where possible avoid, the impact of development and manufacture.

Prof Adisa Azapagic of the university’s Centre for Environmental Strategy is leading the project, Pollutants in the Urban Environment (PUrE), in collaboration with colleague Prof Stephan Jefferis and Ruth Wolstenholme of the Scotland and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research.

“Pollution in cities can pose potentially serious threats to both human health and the environment,” said Prof Azapagic.

“Reducing these threats requires a better understanding of the links between sources, pollutants and human activities and identification of actions needed for a more sustainable management of urban pollution.

“Developing an integrated decision-support framework to enable addressing these challenges is one of the main aims of the PUrE project.”

She said the finished tool would enable users to predict pollution risks for every stage of a product’s lifetime from the manufacturing process, while it is being used and following its eventual disposal.

Users will be able to enter details of a process or product and
the system will outline potential pollutants and, where appropriate, possible solutions.

Prof Azapagic said the system could have practical applications for everyone from consumers concerned about what they were putting in their shopping basket to industrialists looking to launch a new product.

“The decision-support framework will provide guidance and allow them to make their own conclusions,” she said.

“It will also be able to compare similar products and hopefully offer alternative solutions.”

For further information or to find out how to participate in the study contact project coordinator Carol Pettit at [email protected]

By Sam Bond

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