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Home > WaterR2B > Sectors > Health and Emergency Services

Health and Emergency Services

Globally, many of the greatest threats to human health are directly related to safe drinking water, or to water borne or water dependent diseases. The availability of safe drinkable water and effective wastewater treatment to more than 99% of the UK population delivers a huge health and hence economic benefit to the nation.  These health benefits are one of the unique selling points for UK expertise on international markets. In addition to understanding the impact of the natural environment upon human health, it is often our freshwater ecosystems that provide early warning of dangerous levels of pollution reaching the natural environment.  Many of the pharmaceuticals that are prescribed for human ailments pass through the body and enter the natural environment via the wastewater treatment network. The genomic resources of the freshwater environment are also providing an invaluable resource for the development of medicinal and other biotech products. Many of the recent pandemic threats to the UK have had their origin in small mutations of naturally occurring viruses that are dependent upon freshwater organism for their development or onward transmission. 

Emergency services require best available information about areas, buildings and individuals at greatest risk from a range of hazards. In addition to the fire, ambulance, police and local government civil defence organisations, a range of other operators are developing their capacities to respond to extreme storms, flooding and snow fall.  These include organisations providing services for motorists such as the AA and RAC, to IT firms providing a range of real time monitoring services to property owners, motorists, etc.. UK Government initiatives following the disruption caused by volcanic ash in April 2010, are encouraging the growth of the market for new tools to anticipate and manage civil emergencies related to natural hazards.

 
 
2 comments
Sector: Health and Emergency Services
In many parts of the world groundwater is used for drinking, cooking and irrigating crops, and the level of arsenic it contains is a major health risk. Continual exposure to high concentrations of arsenic in water can result in people developing cancers, ischaemic heart disease and compromised immune systems. This is particularly marked in countries such as Bangladesh, where it is estimated that tens of thousands of people die prematurely each year because of chronic exposure to this carcinogenic hazard. However, risks also exist in the UK, for example to users of private water supplies in the South West of England, and to groups with a high rice diet.
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Sector: Health and Emergency Services
The UK is a densely populated small island. Its small rivers allow limited dilution of any chemical that enters them. Because of this, aquatic life here faces more risk of exposure to pharmaceuticals than in most developed nations.
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Sector: Health and Emergency Services
Point source discharges of pollutants from sewage works or industry are responsible for 16% of failures by rivers to meet WFD targets, and at high concentrations may be damaging to wildlife and human health.
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Sector: Health and Emergency Services
In England and Wales, the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) has responsibility for checking that water companies supply water that is safe to drink and meets regulatory standards.
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Sector: Health and Emergency Services
Monitoring water quality, and early detection of unwanted toxins, is essential in a wide range of areas including public and industrial water supplies, wastewater discharges from industry, and the output of wastewater treatment plants.
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Sector: Health and Emergency Services
Clean drinking water is essential to life. However, there are many areas of the undeveloped world where people are still drinking water that is contaminated, either because the proper water infrastructure is not in place or because disasters, environmental and otherwise, have prevented access.
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Sector: Health and Emergency Services
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that around a quarter of all humankind is carrying intestinal parasites, as a direct result of inadequate sanitation.
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