Our research

Understanding the risk from chemicals is pivotal for ensuring their sustainable use while protecting people, the environment and delivery of ecosystem services.

Our research aims to provide the scientific understanding needed to develop chemical hazard and risk assessment, understand the effects that pollutants have, and develop effective mitigation and restoration strategies. Our work covers a wide range of inorganic and organic chemicals that are released to land, freshwater and the atmosphere, and includes understanding the potential risks associated with engineered nanoparticles, plastics and pharmaceuticals linked to the development of antimicrobial resistance.

World-class science and innovation

  • The Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme (PBMS) quantifies contaminants in sentinel birds of prey. This work helps us understand how and why environmental concentrations of pollutants vary spatially and temporally, and the risks they pose to wildlife.
  • Plastics research to understand the sources, transport and effects of microplastics (plastics <5mm) in freshwater and terrestrial systems. Microplastics in oceans are well studied, but there is less information on their presence in soils, rivers and lakes, where they can be ingested by organisms and lead to the uptake of associated chemicals such as plasticisers.
  • Understanding the extent to which pharmaceuticals, metals, biocides and herbicides contribute to driving antimicrobial resistance in the environment.
  • Providing modelling tools to assess the water quality status across Europe and North Africa with the capability to assess the implications of proposed policy initiatives and climate change.
  • Through a series of UKRI and EU-funded projects we work to establish specialised risk assessment methods for nano-enabled materials and products. We determine how their environmental distribution, concentration, form and toxicity relate to the different physical and chemical properties of nanoparticle-containing materials used in everyday products (e.g. healthcare, electronics and cosmetics).

Scientist working in the chemistry laboratory in Lancaster

Science Groups

Our facilities


Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme logo
Long-term monitoring of contaminant levels in selected species of predatory birds
Indicator lichens screenshot from Lichen App
Nitrogen pollution in your local area
Lichen App screenshot
Assessing atmospheric nitrogen pollutants
CEH, Lancaster University and CRAES researchers
Continued efforts between the UK and China to improve the environmental science to policy process
Wildlife trap camera deployed in the Chernobyl exclusion zone
Integrating the science needed for improved radioactivity assessments for humans and wildlife
Attendees at COMET workshop
Integrating research on radiation impacts on humans, the human food chain and the environment
STAR project logo
Influencing the course of radioecology science
Caution radioactive materials sign image: shutterstock
Protecting humans and the environment from radiation
An example slide from Steve's presentation on nanoparticles research.
Advice on how to approach nanoparticles as they are developed
Dead forest near Chernobyl with radioactivity warning sign
Radiochemical measurements
Honeybees, image by Shutterstock
A large-scale, pan-European field experiment