This event took place on Wednesday 31 March 2021.
We are delighted to welcome you to the Inaugural Professorial Lecture of Professor Sean Comber.
Metals, phosphates and pharmaceuticals entering our rivers and seas can have considerable consequences for nature and human health, requiring an assessment of their risks and regulation to reduce or mitigate their effects. But these measures can also have a cost on society and industries. Brexit now requires the UK Government to consider what regulations could, or should, be introduced to regulate the pollution, and how far do we go to protect the environment?
Sean Comber, Professor of Environmental Chemistry, explores whether these pollutants pose any cause for concern and how water quality holds up against the environmental standards currently in place. He reflects on the impact of the South West’s mining history and the threshold for how much metal can enter our waterways before they cause a toxicity problem.
Inversely, Sean questions whether the significant costs predicted to reduce phosphate levels are actually good value for money, and highlights the challenges facing regulation of pharmaceuticals, which exacerbate the risk of antibiotic resistance hotspots in the environment.
Sean’s expertise spans more than 30 years, starting as a consultant for the water industry; he remains a consultant and brings this extensive industry knowledge, alongside established partnerships, to his portfolio of applied research. His work has had considerable impact, with his work on quantifying the sources of chemicals to water underpinning the UK’s decision to invest £4 billion to reduce chemical pollution entering UK rivers. The model not only accurately predicts the origin and significance of a pollutant but can also run scenarios to identify the most cost-effective solutions for improving water quality.
The event will conclude with a Q&A session where Sean will answer questions submitted by attendees.
You are welcome to join us for the University of Plymouth’s Inaugural Professorial Lecture series, which provide a milestone event in a professorial career. Through these we can promote and celebrate the academic reputation and achievements within their research.
This event is open to the public and free to attend. It will be hosted online and you will receive a joining link via email after you have registered and before the event begins. Please join the call via the link provided 5 minutes before the event begins.