Scientists are to undertake a £1.2m study into the impact of chemical pollution in Yorkshire’s rivers.
The research aims to identify the most dangerous chemicals emitted into county waterways and the role they play on wildlife loss.
Chemical pollution in the rivers Aire, Calder, Derwent, Don, Nidd, Ouse, Swale, Ure and Wharfe will be analysed.
Professor Alistair Boxall said the study ‘will bring us closer to halting the loss of biodiversity in UK rivers’.
He said the data suggests that chemical pollution from “wastewater discharges, transportation, urban environments, agriculture and mining” has contributed to failures of existing quality standards.
Professor Boxall, who is leading the study, said it would address the need for more effective ways to ‘assess, predict and manage the impacts of chemicals now and in decades to come’.
He said identifying the most harmful chemicals would put chemical manufacturers in a better position to produce substances that would benefit society and not negatively impact the natural environment.
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A spokesman for the University of York said the chemicals are discharged into rivers and streams daily through “domestic and industrial wastewater, personal care products and pharmaceuticals, as well as from the application of pesticides”.
They said the research team aimed to use their findings to identify ways to “better monitor and mitigate the impact of chemicals on water quality and nature loss, both now and in the future.”
The project, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, is one of five new research projects awarded an £8.4 million grant to study the impact of pollution on UK rivers.
Officials said researchers from York, Sheffield and Durham will work with representatives from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and the Health and Safety Executive.
They said industry partners including Unilever and Network Rail and the National Trust and Rivers Trust charities would also take part in the study.
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