The three simple atoms that constitute a water molecule, H2O, play a crucial role for human health and well-being. While 70% of the earth is covered with water, only 2-3% is fresh water suitable for human use, and 97% of that resource is captured in glaciers etc. Still, about 60% of the human body is water, while for our brains it is 75% and for our lungs it is 90%. In other words, water is very fundamental for human life.
Due to human pressures and rapid population growth more and more countries have to consider how to make best use of their water resources, which is challenging due to the complex interrelations between water quality and quantity.
AU Tapwater will endeavor to build a trans-faculty knowledge cluster around water supply and drinking water management, by developing collaborative links that enable novel approaches to integrated analysis for the water sector. It will target the profound needs to optimize drinking water management in a more holistic way, balancing technical requirements with as well the health aspects as the economic costs of management and supply.
In Denmark we have an advanced infrastructure for monitoring of drinking water quality which with population registries allows us to improve our understanding of how various exposures may or may not be affecting public health over time. Most of the international drinking water standards, even within the EU, have been established based on risk assessments related to acute exposures, while the long-term implications of chronic exposures are often not well understood.
With this network we want to create a platform for utilizing this exceptional Danish basis in order to generate research-based contributions to international management principles for drinking water. Linking the geo-coded population registries hosted by CIRRAU with the Danish JUPITER public drinking water supply database is the principal tool to derive more fine-tuned epidemiological evidence on the public health implications of the key inorganic constituents, such as fluoride, arsen, iodine, iron, nitrate, calcium, magnesium and cadmium. In order to understand how implications can be managed in the technical system of water supply, we will rely on risk assessment approaches developed in recent years that can assign monetary values to health implications for inclusion in wider economic analysis of the benefits and costs of the various technical options available.
Technical options for drinking water treatment are numerous, but a proper assessment requires that the relative benefits are well understood. Use of nano-membranes for filtering or treatment of specific inorganics as Arsenic are among the options, the costs for which must be compared to the societal value of reducing the relevant risks.
The scientific scope of the network encompasses as well the public health issues, the scientific-technical properties of the supply system as well as the management aspects (economic and legislative) of water supply.