Clean water and sanitation
Our research is advancing our understanding and assessment of naturally-occurring (e.g., arsenic) and man-made (e.g., microplastics) sources of water pollution worldwide, and how these affect health of humans and freshwater ecosystems.
Our work is developing policy and technological solutions to address pollution and contamination challenges, through which we are helping to improve access to clean water supplies and effective sanitation services for millions globally.
Our current key areas of research include:
Contaminant transport analysis
Sewage and industrial waste discharge are key causes of water pollution, in particular around major urban centres. We are trying to understand the social and material factors that result in flows of unflushables and microfibers from UK households. We were commissioned by Anglican Water to investigate the nature of the unflushables challenge and review action to date. You can read and review action to date which resulted in a workshop report and a final report.
Another pressing environmental challenge for our water ways is plastic pollution. We are looking at the assemblage and transport of microplastics in our rivers and their journey to their final location on the sea bed.
Groundwater arsenic in S/SE Asia
Arsenic is a well known acute poison and we have interdisciplinary teams looking at its place in the ground, its transport into our food system and subsequent remediation. Researchers in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science are working in Cambodia, India and Myanmar to understand how the environment effects groundwater quality, identifying barriers to effective remediation, and developing improved decision support systems for groundwater remediation, with an aim to improve access to safer and more sustainable drinking water supplies. Watch a talk by Laura Richards where she discusses her recent research in this area.
Water pollution detection
Water pollution is a major global problem not only for out aquatic ecosystems, the pollutants can seep through and reach the groundwater, which might end up in our households as contaminated water we use in our daily activities, including drinking. Research in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences is looking at how we can use macroinvertebrates as bioindicators for aquatic health. By looking at their assemblage structure and composition they can show the impact of human activities on the natural environment. Watch a talk by Cecilia Medupin where she talks about the strategies needed to sustainably manage, protect or restore these aquatic organisms for the future.
Research specialisms: Water quality modelling and management, urban drainage, flood risk assessment, sediment processes, catchment management.
Research specialisms: Water quality from catchment to tap, instrumentation, big data.
Bart van Dongen
Reader in Organic Chemistry
Research specialisms: Removal of organic pollutants from drinking/waste water, arsenic pollution in aquifer systems, mobilisation of permafrost derived organic matter through the great Russian Arctic river, dissolved organic matter from peatland.
Professor of Physical Chemistry
Research specialisms: Water purification, desalination, capacitive de-ionisation, membranes.
Research specialisms: ICP-MS speciation, LC-MS/MS pesticides analysis.
Research specialisms: Hydraulics, water supply, control, optimisation, dynamics.
Research specialisms: River ecology, biodiversity, macroinvertebrates, water quality, rivers, public engagement and knowledge transfer.
BNFL Research Chair
Research specialisms: Radionuclides, effluent treatment, industry links, impact case study.
Research specialisms: Metal pollution, wastewater, bioremediation, nutrient recycling, plant and microbial processes.
Professor of Environmental Geochemistry
Research specialisms: Water quality, exposure ,health, arsenic, food, hydrogeochemistry, biogeochemistry.
Research specialisms: Geochemistry, basin management, drinking water quality, carbon runoff from peatlands, disinfection by products.
Professor of Physical Geography
Research specialisms: Heavy metals, microplastics, sustainable urban drainage, green/blue infrastructure.
Professor of Contemporary Theatre
Research specialisms: Community and stakeholder engagement (arts based), flood resilience, river stewardship, community engagement, storytelling, sited performance.
Research specialisms: Low cost water filtration systems, improved slow sand filters for water and wastewater treatment, removal of microplastics in water and wastewater, water-rock interaction.
Research specialisms: Climate change, pollution/oil spills, flow, fish physiology, cardiorespiratory responses to changes in water conditions in fish, climatic effects on fish.
Professor of Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation
Research specialisms: Physiology, pollution, abstraction, wildlife, population biology.
Roy Albert Wogelius
Professor of Geochemistry
Research specialisms: Radionuclides, heavy metals, plastics, diffusion, adsorption, contaminant mass transfer.