Centre for Environmental Health and Sustainability

Metals in dust and soils and health

The aim of this project is to investigate exposures to metals from soils and dust and assess potential health risks. 

Metals in household dust arise from contaminated soils and we have previously found correlations between local soil contaminants, indoor dust and biomonitoring samples. Environmental public health surveillance in England has found high exposures to heavy metals, such as arsenic (As), lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd) through soil and dust. Development of fine resolution soil metal maps can highlight areas for investigation. A new HPRU PhD studentship will characterise soil and indoor dust metal contaminants in England at fine resolution to allow epidemiological risk assessments. 

Higher exposures to metals such as As, Pb and Cd are associated with various health outcomes. However, other potential health risks may arise from the impact of metals on bacteria and viruses. Previous work at UoL has shown that copper increases antimicrobial resistance (AMR) acquisition in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. In order to better characterise health risks from metal pollution, the effect of metals on host-pathogen interactions, including bacterial interactions, AMR properties, host immune response and epithelial integrity will be studied in laboratory settings. 

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