The BlueHealth project brings together a multi-disciplinary consortium to investigate how aquatic environments affect the health of Europe’s population.
It will take an international, interdisciplinary and multi-sector approach to health promotion and disease prevention, investigating the relationships between ‘blue infrastructure’ and health and wellbeing.
Led by Professor Lora Fleming, the project will involve institutions from across Europe over its four and a half year lifespan.
‘Blue infrastructure’ refers to the network of natural and man-made aquatic environments that provide a range of services, such as transportation and fresh water provision.
To date, there has been no systematic attempt to detail the potential impacts of blue infrastructure on health promotion and disease prevention, nor to develop guidelines on how health should be considered when developing blue infrastructure interventions.
BlueHealth will address this gap.
The majority of Europeans live in cities built on inland waterways and lakes, or in close proximity to the coast. BlueHealth will focus on these urban ‘blue’ environments to understand the health and wellbeing opportunities they might present, including factors such as urban cooling and recreation.
It will also consider the challenges these environments present, through flooding events, chemical pollution and microbial incubation and dissemination, for example.
BlueHealth will investigate these competing trade-offs and quantify the health impacts of interventions and policy initiatives, as well as examining the economic costs of health promotion and disease prevention associated with blue infrastructure.
The research team will assess the effects of large scale projects such as dockland regeneration in Estonia and flood-proofing in the Netherlands, as well as smaller initiatives like canal cycle paths in Italy and coastal walking here in the UK.
The study will also explore how virtual aquatic and coastal environments could be used in hospitals in Sweden and the UK to improve patients’ wellbeing.
The complete list of institutions involved is:
University of Exeter Medical School, UK
Fundacio Centre De Recerca En Epidemiologia Ambiental – Creal, Spain
Lunds Universitet, Sweden
Eesti Maaulikool, Estonia
National Institute for Public Health and The Environment, Netherlands
World Health Organization, Germany
Aristotelio Panepistimio Thessalonikis, Greece
Istituto Superiore Di Sanita, Italy
Centro Euro-Mediterraneo Sui Cambiamenti Climatici Scarl, Italy
BlueHealth has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 666773.