Research Themes & Projects
Chemicals in the environment
Environmental chemical contaminants such as 'dioxins’ (PCDD/Fs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) belong to the generic group of organic molecules which are popularly called 'persistent organic pollutants’ (POPs) or 'persistent, bioaccumulatory and toxic ’ substances (PBTs).
Polar environments are particularly vulnerable to contamination by semi-volatile organic compounds due to the ability of these chemicals to undergo long range transport (in air and ocean currents) and accumulate in compartments such as surface ocean waters, snow/ice, tundra soils and vegetation.
Forests have been identified to play an important role in the environmental fate of Organic Pollutants (POPs). Vegetation has been shown to influence both POP air concentrations and the exchange fluxes of persistent organics between the atmosphere and soil.
Long-range atmospheric transport and ocean currents can deliver POPs to the surface waters of the open oceans. The capacity of the oceans to store POPs and their response to changes in atmospheric concentrations is dependent to many chemical, physical and biological factors in space and time.
The ability of certain POPs to undergo long range atmospheric transport (LRAT) has resulted in the negotiation of international protocols (e.g. UN/ECE, UNEP) for their reduction or elimination, to reduce the risks to regional and global environments.
We have compiled a physical chemicals database for selected POPs.
We have pioneered the development and utilisation of novel visualisation techniques for understanding organic chemical behaviour within the environment; by using the innovative coupling of two-photon excitation microscopy and sample autofluorescence (TPEM-AF).
According to Defra, nanotechnology presents a major opportunity for the economic and sustainable development of the UK. Current predictions estimate the value of the global nanotechnology industry at $1 trillion by 2015.
We have pioneered the development and utilisation of novel visualisation techniques for understanding the behaviour of organic chemical and nanoscale materials within the environment; by using the innovative coupling of two-photon excitation microscopy and sample autofluorescence.