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Health issues for coalfield areas

Researchers have called for regeneration of coalfield communities after highlighting health and economic problems that still blight them.

The team from Durham University said that communities were continuing to face such issues even decades after pits had closed.

The study found that people living in some of these areas have a greater chance of developing long-term limiting illnesses such as chronic arthritis, asthma and back problems.

The Durham researchers said that targeted regeneration could be central to recovery in such areas.

The findings reinforce calls for increased and more focused government assistance, particularly in poorer, predominantly rural coalfield communities.

Co-author of the Durham study, Professor Sarah Curtis from the department of geography, said: "A lot can be learned from the success stories and regeneration schemes that have worked well. It will be helpful to share knowledge about the conditions fostering that success."

The results, published in the journal Health and Place, also reveal that some less-deprived coalfield areas are faring relatively well in terms of health.

That some of these areas have weathered the economic storm better in terms of health suggested that regeneration efforts and the resilience of local communities may be helpful for health and wellbeing, as well as for the economy and jobs.

Researchers at Durham University's Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience, Dalhousie University, Canada, and Teesside University, surveyed 26,100 people including 4,750 from the country's 55 coalfield areas for the study.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Durham University