Richard Williams

Richard Williams

Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Maclean Building
Benson Lane
Crowmarsh Gifford
Oxfordshire, OX10 8BB
Tel: +44 (0)1491 692398
E-mail: Richard Williams


Research interests

I have worked at CEH for over 30 years, having completed a BSc in chemical engineering at University College London. My main expertise is in the behaviour and fate of chemicals in the environment and to use this understanding to make predictions of environmental concentrations of these chemicals in aquatic systems and soils. 


Current work

I have particular experience in working with diffuse pollution from agriculture (mainly pesticides) and my current interests are around point source releases from sewage treatment works and industrial effluents (steroid oestrogens, alkyl phenols, phosphorus, pharmaceuticals and nano-particles). 

I combine the environmental concentrations predicted by computer models for chemicals or groups of chemicals to levels of these chemicals which are known to cause environmental harm in order to make risk assessments. One of the most effective ways to convey these risk assessments is through maps of river systems colour coded according to the likely level of harm. To do this CEH has developed spatially explicit river models which generate geographically referenced outputs that can be displayed using mapping software tools.

I also have a long-held interest in modelling dissolved oxygen, Biochemical Oxygen Demand*, ammonia and nitrate in rivers. Currently I am trying to improve the modelling of dissolved oxygen at short time steps (hourly) and relating these concentrations to flow conditions, nutrient availability and growth of macrophytes and algae in the river.


* Biochemical or biological oxygen demand (BOD) is the amount of oxygen required by aerobic bacteria and other micro-organisms to decompose the organic matter in a litre of water. It is used as a measure of the degree of water pollution from sources such as sewage.


Recent publications

For a more comprehensive list, please see the NERC Open Research Archive.

Johnson, Andrew C., Bowes, Michael J., Crossley, Alison, Jarvie, Helen P., Jurkschat, Kerstin, Juergens, Monika D., Lawlor, Alan J., Park, Barry, Rowland, Philip, Spurgeon, David, Svendsen, Claus, Thompson, Ian P., Barnes, Robert J., Williams, Richard J., Xu, Nan. (2011.) An assessment of the fate, behaviour and environmental risk associated with sunscreen TiO2 nanoparticles in UK field scenarios. Sci. Total Environ. 409 (13), 2503-2517. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.03.040

Janna, Hussein, Scrimshaw, Mark D., Williams, Richard J., Churchley, John, Sumpter, John P. (2011.) From Dishwasher to Tap? Xenobiotic Substances Benzotriazole and Tolyltriazole in the Environment. Environmental Science & Technology 45 (9), 3858-3864. 10.1021/es103267g

Palmer-Felgate, Elizabeth J., Mortimer, Robert J.G., Krom, Michael D., Jarvie, Helen P., Williams, Richard J., Spraggs, Rachael E., Stratford, Charlie J. (2011.) Internal loading of phosphorus in a sedimentation pond of a treatment wetland: Effect of a phytoplankton crash. Sci. Total Environ. 409 (11), 2222-2232. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.02.034

Price, Oliver R., Williams, Richard J., van Egmond, Roger, Wilkinson, Mark J., Whelan, Michael J. (2010.) Predicting accurate and ecologically relevant regional scale concentrations of triclosan in rivers for use in higher-tier aquatic risk assessments. Environment International, 36 (6), 521-526. 10.1016/j.envint.2010.04.003

Neal, Colin, Jarvie, Helen P., Williams, Richard, Love, Alison, Neal, Margaret, Wickham, Heather, Harman, Sarah, Armstrong, Linda. (2010.) Declines in phosphorus concentration in the upper River Thames (UK): Links to sewage effluent cleanup and extended end member mixing analysis.Sci. Total Environ. 408 (6), 1315-1330. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.10.055

Neal, Colin, Williams, Richard J., Bowes, Michael J., Harrass, Michael C., Neal, Margaret, Rowland, Philip, Wickham, Heather, Thacker, Sarah, Harman, Sarah, Vincent, Colin, Jarvie, Helen P. (2010.) Decreasing boron concentrations in UK rivers: Insights into reductions in detergent formulations since the 1990s and within-catchment storage issues. Sci. Total Environ. 408 (6), 1374-1385. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.10.074

Price, Oliver R., Williams, Richard J., Zhang, Zhong, van Egmond, Roger. (2010.) Modelling concentrations of decamethylcyclopenta-siloxane in two UK rivers using LF2000-WQX. Environmental Pollution, 158 (2), 356-360. 10.1016/j.envpol.2009.09.013

Boxall, Alistair, Hardy, Anthony, Beulke, Sabine, Boucard, Tatiana, Burgin, Laura, Falloon, Peter, Haygarth, Philip, Hutchinson, Thomas, Kovats, Sari, Leonardi, Giovanni, Levy, Leonard, Nichols, Gordon, Parsons, Simon, Potts, Laura, Stone, David, Topp, Edward, Turley, David, Walsh, Kerry, Wellington, Elizabeth, Williams, Richard. (2010.) Impacts of climate change on indirect human exposure to pathogens and chemicals from agriculture. Ciência & Saúde Coletiva 15, 743-756. 10.1590/S1413-81232010000300017

Balaam, Jan L., Grover, Darren, Johnson, Andrew C., Jurgens, Monika, Readman, James, Smith, Andy J., White, Stefan, Williams, Richard, Zhou, John L. (2010.) The use of modelling to predict levels of estrogens in a river catchment: How does modelled data compare with chemical analysis and in vitro yeast assay results? Sci. Total Environ. 408 (20), 4826-4832. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2010.07.019

Rowney, Nicole C., Johnson, Andrew C., Williams, Richard J. (2009.) Cytotoxic Drugs in Drinking Water: A Prediction and Risk Assessment Exercise for the Thames Catchment in the United Kingdom. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 28 (12), 2733-2743. 10.1897/09-067.1