Enhancing Human Health through Improved Water Quality

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Resource or Project Abstract

Ireland's water resources are important from the perspective of amenity value, agriculture, industry and environmental sustainability, but most fundamentally they are an essential prerequisite for good health and wellbeing. Awareness that water quality and the general environment are central to the agenda of sustainability and equity in the health of the population was central to the design of the project, Enhancing Human Health through Improved Water Quality, which commenced in 2006.It is estimated that between 10 and 30% of the surface water and 15% of groundwater bodies in Ireland are at risk of failing to meet European Union Water Quality objectives; this is a major challenge for government.This project developed an approach for categorising the susceptibility of groundwater sources to microbial contamination in Ireland. This tool may help authorities to assess the risk of contamination in specific aquifers. Mathematical modelling of water catchments to predict the occurrence of faecal contamination was also developed. The model developed is a significant advance in the field, which shows potential but requires further refinement before routine application. A large percentage of the population of rural Ireland are dependent on group water supplies. The project demonstrated that water delivered to homes in the West of Ireland by some group water supplies is contaminated with faecal material most of the time. This is caused by contamination of the source and the failure of effective and consistent water treatment. Molecular methods that differentiate between faeces of human and ruminant origin indicate that the source of contamination appears to be predominantly animals (ruminants). Furthermore, many of the E. coli bacteria contaminating these water supplies are resistant to one or several commonly used antibiotics. The findings underscore the necessity of progressing rapidly with measures to protect sources of group water supplies and to ensure effective and consistent treatment. This project provides new information that has informed a series of recommendations (across a broad range of areas) that can improve our aquatic environment and improve human health. This report represents one step towards the translation of this research into action for improved health. The researchers engaged in the project are happy to engage with partners to find ways to support such actions.

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Contact Information for This Resource

Professor Martin Cormican
National University of Ireland Galway

Dr. Enda Cummins
University College Dublin

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Data, Files, Information Objects Related To This Project Resource

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Attachment Name and Download Link
Offline Print Quality Version    STRIVE_89_Comican_Crypto_prn.pdf  (2.34 Mb)
Project Report Optimised For Online Viewing    STRIVE_89_Comican_Crypto_web.pdf  (1.51 Mb)
Att 3    Executive_Summary_STRIVE_89_Comican_Crypto_web.pdf   (0.04 Mb)
Att 4    Groundwater-Susceptibility-Matrix.png   (0.08 Mb)

Suggested Citation Information

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Author(s)Cormican, M. Cummins, E.
Title Of WebsiteSecure Archive For Environmental Research Data
Publication InformationEnhancing Human Health through Improved Water Quality
Name of OrganisationEnvironmental Protection Agency Ireland
Electronic Address or URL https://eparesearch.epa.ie/safer/resource?id=9dc6b8c1-c5c7-11e1-84ca-005056ae0019
Unique Identifier9dc6b8c1-c5c7-11e1-84ca-005056ae0019
Date of AccessLast Updated on SAFER: 2024-06-17

An example of this citation in proper usage:

Cormican, M. Cummins, E.   "Enhancing Human Health through Improved Water Quality". Associated datasets and digitial information objects connected to this resource are available at: Secure Archive For Environmental Research Data (SAFER) managed by Environmental Protection Agency Ireland https://eparesearch.epa.ie/safer/resource?id=9dc6b8c1-c5c7-11e1-84ca-005056ae0019 (Last Accessed: 2024-06-17)


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Access Information For This Resource

SAFER-Data Display URL https://eparesearch.epa.ie/safer/iso19115/display?isoID=272
Resource KeywordsCryptosporidium, GIS, Galway, Water Quality, waterborne cryptosporidiosis, groundwater, microbial contamination, mathematical modelling, contamination
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project Code2005-CD-H1-M1
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project ThemeWater Quality
Resource Availability: Any User Can Download Files From This Resource
Limitations on the use of this ResourceAny attached datasets, data files, or information objects can be downloaded for further use in scientific applications under the condition that the source is properly quoted and cited in published papers, journals, websites, presentations, books, etc. Before downloading, users must agree to the "Conditions of Download and Access" from SAFER-Data. These appear before download. Users of the data should also communicate with the original authors/owners of this resource if they are uncertain about any aspect of the data or information provided before further usage.
Number of Attached Files (Publicly and Openly Available for Download): 4
Project Start Date Sunday 1st January 2006 (01-01-2006)
Earliest Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Sunday 1st January 2006 (01-01-2006)
Most Recent Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Friday 1st June 2012 (01-06-2012)
Published on SAFERWednesday 4th July 2012 (04-07-2012)
Date of Last EditWednesday 4th July 2012 at 12:17:31 (04-07-2012)
Datasets or Files Updated On Wednesday 4th July 2012 at 12:16:21 (04-07-2012)

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Geographical and Spatial Information Related To This Resource

Description of Geographical Characteristics of This Project or Dataset
During the project, water and effluent samples were examined for the presence of antimicrobial agents and for faecal indicator bacteria that had acquired resistance to antimicrobial agents. Water from a number of locations, including rivers, lakes, hospital effluent, municipal sewage and effluent from a wastewatertreatment plant was tested. There was a particular focus on effluent from hospitals and related urban sewage systems. Samples were collected from the following sites: 1 Hospital effluent from two hospitals and municipal sewage upstream and downstream of these institutions. 2 Rivers and lakes from six counties including those in the vicinity of and remote from urban areas. 3 Source and piped water from three rural group water supplies. 4 Seawater into which treated and untreated sewage was emitted. 5 Soil and/or slurry samples from intensive farms. 6 River samples upstream and downstream of these farms. 7 Samples from different stages of the secondary wastewater-treatment process at a secondary wastewater-treatment plant; to determine the impact of each stage of treatment on the presence of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria and antimicrobial agents.

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Supplementary Information About This Resource

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Lineage information about this project or dataset
Ireland's relatively abundant supply of fresh water constitutes a key resource in terms of its human health, economic, amenity and aesthetic value. Most people in Ireland have access to sanitation and to safe drinking water. The situation with respect to drinking water has shown progressive improvement in recent years as reflected in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report, The Provision and Quality of Drinking Water in Ireland A Report for the Year 2010 (EPA, 2010). Obligations with respect to protecting water quality in Ireland are specified in the European Commission (Water Policy) Regulations 2003 (S.I.722 of 233), which transposed the requirements of Directive 2000/60/EC into Irish law. This directive has established a Europewide framework for community action in the field of water policy (the Water Framework Directive [WFD]). This report provides an overview of a large-scale project with the objective of providing evidence and developing methods to guide policy to improve human health through improved water quality. This project also aimed to develop a partnership between academic researchers, local authorities and health care providers to enhance the capacity for research on environment and health. The establishment of a Centre for Health from Environment at the Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway represents an important expression of that developing capacity. This project was one of the largest projects to date in Ireland linking the environment with health.
Supplementary Information
This project used geographical information system (GIS) technology to investigate the relationships between variation in notified cases of cryptosporidiosis and water supply with regard to social deprivation and environmental factors. At the basic level, the system was valuable in presenting spatial information about cases of infection during a major waterborne outbreak of cryptosporidiosis in Galway in 2007. The development and deployment of the Groundwater Susceptibility Matrix (see attachment) to monitor factors influencing the susceptibility of aquifers to contamination yielded several mportant findings


Martin Cormican, Enda Cummins, Dearbhaile Morris, Martina Pendergast, Diarmuid O?Donovan and Vincent O'Flaherty by Centre for Health from Environment, Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland Galway & School of Biosystems Engineering, University College Dublin
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