The CONPAT research consortium has been set up to investigate the sustainable use of aquatic resources and to explore ways of securing the future supply of drinking water, with special reference to human health risks. The aim is to identify interdisciplinary links between the microbiological and chemical contamination of natural and built water systems, the quantitative assessment of water-borne health risks, the reduction of adverse health effects and economic impacts, and risk communication. Furthermore, the consortium will be aiming to produce scientific evidence and tools that can help predict the transport of pollutants in waterways and drinking water production systems, assess their health effects, evaluate the economic consequences of risk management and improve risk communication.
The search for sources of contamination and the modelling of contaminant transport in surface waters will focus on the Kokemäenjoki water course downstream from Tampere. As regards groundwater, the research focus will on the artificial groundwater recharge area of Virttaankangas esker, which produces drinking water for the Turku region. In the empirical section of the research, water samples will be analysed to determine concentrations of disease-causing microbes and consumer chemicals such as medications and sweeteners as well as variations in water quality. Mathematical models will be applied to study the transport of microbes and contaminants in waterways, the health effects of microbes and contaminants in drinking water, and economic costs under different risk management options. Other areas of focus will include risk attribution, risk communication and risk governance, which will be studied both from a conceptual vantage point and by collecting empirical material on how the media, experts and various stakeholders view and understand risk.
The CONPAT consortium director is Docent Ilkka Miettinen from the Department of Environmental Health at the National Institute for Health and Welfare. Principal investigators for the consortium projects are Professor Timo Huttula from the Freshwater Centre at the Finnish Environment Institute and Docent Juha Honkatukia from the Policy Analysis and Modelling Unit at the Government Institute for Economic Research. The CONPAT website address is http://fi.opasnet.org/fi/Conpat.