Select Committee on Science and Technology Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex A


IssueContribution from Nature of contributionIn collaboration with
Parkinson's DiseaseCentre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) In brain tissue from patients who had developed Parkinsonism, selected organochlorine compounds (of both industrial and agricultral origin) were found to be higher than in normal tissue or that from patients with other neurological conditions. A more extensive study is in hand to confirm and test hypotheses generated by the pilot study. Argyll and Bute Hospital, Scotland
Water Quality (General)University Groups, CEH A number of aspects of water quality are being considered by the URGENT programme Water Companies, Environment Agency, Local Councils
Water Quality (Ground water Crypto-sporidium hazard in drinking water) British Geological Survey (BGS)Development of practical hazard assessment procedures applicable to waterborne Cryptosporidium; provision of advice to central government (DETR/DoH) and a regulator (DWI); identification of the key future research areas. Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI)
Water Quality (arsenic in drinking water) BGS
World Bank
BGS work in Bangladesh has revealed that some 20-30 million people are exposed to naturally-occurring high concentrations of arsenic in groundwater, which provides drinking water for more than 95 per cent of the rural population in Bangladesh. A $44 million World Bank loan to the Government of Bangladesh has been made aimed at understanding the problem and implementing a large-scale mitigation programme. Through a DFID, contract in collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh, local consultants and other agencies
Air Quality (particulates)University Groups, CEH A number of projects looking at factors which affect the level of particulates in the urban environment including modelling of distribution within the URGENT Programme. Large consortium including Local Authorities, Automotive companies and Pollution Control companies
Air Quality (Lead pollution)BGS Determination of different environmental sources of lead pollution by analysing air filters. Implications for air quality monitoring in relation to legislation on lead in petrol.   
Natural radioactivityBGS Produced maps which identify where risks from indoor radon are greatest. Benefit to local and national government plus educational and construction sectors.   
Radioactive waste risk assessmentBGS
Environment Agency
Joint Japanese collaborative study examining the importance of microbes in influencing the geochemical processes in the area around a nuclear waste repository. The parameters derived have been used by international radioactive waste industries. Japan
Drug discoveryCEHDrug discovery company "Evolutec" established, based on research at CEH. Received venture capital and was valued at £4.5 million at start up.   
DNA research (see also Hydrothermal vent communities) University Groups, Southampton Oceanography Centre Possible ways to enhance DNA repair in humans within the BRIDGE programme. US, Russian and UK research ships
Chiral organic compoundsBGS Research into chiral compounds principally the herbicide Mecoprop, which is polluting a public water supply borehole in Anglia. The BGS is looking at changes in the ratio of the chiral forms (also known as enantiomers) as an indication of in situ biodegradation. This is because one form is biologically more active than the other and degrades much faster. Future work may include the investigation of how such compounds may invert from one form to another in groundwater and consequently become more toxic to humans.   
Environmental baseline study of stream sediments, stream waters and soils BGSNational baseline geochemical survey of the environment. Systematic collection of soils, stream waters and stream sediments of the Nation and analysis for a range of chemical elements. Establishment of regional background levels and variations related to factors such as bedrock geology. Recognition of potential hazards due to natural trace element toxicity and deficiency and anthropogenic contamination.   
Contaminated landUniversity Groups, BGS, CEH Biochemical techniques for rapid assessment of soil health techniques have been developed with earthworm based biomarkers and microbial biosensors. These techniques indicate the bioavailability of chemicals in contaminated land and should prove relevant to human health risk assessment. Research into pollutant transfer processes within the URGENT programme. Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Local Councils, consultants
Contaminants from human burialsBGS Examined the distribution of contaminants associated with human burials in an urban cemetery, in relation to concerns over siting of new cemeteries and the new EU groundwater directive. Environment Agency
Detection of faecal coliformsCEH Developed sensitive and reliable methods for detection of faecal coliforms in aquatic and terrestrial environments. North West Water Authority expressed interest in utilising CEH expertise to monitor specific pathogens outside their areas of expertise and accredited monitoring systems. This should enable new accredited techniques to be developed.   
Risks associated with contaminated land Teaching Company SchemeCardiff University and Celtic Technology Ltd collaborated in development of improved methods for assessing the risks associated with contaminated land. Will help development of strategies for treating such land. Project has significantly improved the company's capability in this area and feed-back from their customers has shown that the methods work well and result in significant cost savings. Cardiff University and Celtic Technology
Environmental OestrogensCEH The first study of the properties controlling fate and behaviour of steroid oestrogens has been completed. These data have been used to make the first predictions of likely steroid concentrations in UK rivers. Environment Agency
Hydrothermal vent communitiesSOC Animals living around hydrothermal vents are exposed to very toxic chemicals. The animals survive by having resistant genetic material and by having opportunistic lifestyles, allowing them to grow and breed very rapidly. Their genetic modifications are potentially significant to biotechnology and medical research.   
Tooth and bone analysisNERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory NIGL has established a method for the analysis of phosphates, which reflects the composition of dietary water. This varies both with location and climate. Tooth phosphate is particularly valuable since different teeth form and record information at different stages of life.   
Hepatitis CCEHWhen viruses enter cells they do so by using a specific interaction with a protein to the cell surface. By making such proteins using recombinant technology a simple test can be estabished for the first stage of virus entry so enabling screening for compounds that may prevent virus uptake.   

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