Understanding and assessing geochemical hazards in the environment has been a part of the BGS portfolio of research for over 50 years. We have an international reputation for looking at the relationships between the natural environment, pollution and human health. This allows us to:
- understand the bioaccessibility and environmental availability of contaminants and their relationship to human and animal health
- characterise and understand the sources of natural and anthropogenic contamination in the surface environment
- assess the influence of ordinary environmental factors on the geographical distribution of health problems
These relationships are complex to establish and understand, but have a major impact on every person, every day of our lives as we interact with our surroundings. Some of these relationships are obvious and more easily understood whereas others, the silent hazard, are not easily observed and take longer to manifest. This research aims to build a cross-disciplinary framework and body of knowledge, to better understand the impacts of geochemical hazards of soil on human health under our four research themes.
The interdisciplinary nature of our research allows us to work with a wide range of sectors (UK and international), including government, local authority and land development. It is an umbrella for collaborative working with the medical and social sciences, engineers, urban planners, contaminated land practitioners and more. As well as collecting soils for specific projects we use the G-BASE soil collection and associated data.
We work with a range of other BGS research areas. These include:
- other BGS colleagues researching geochemical hazards and health issues
- the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry, which also provides laboratory services
- environmental statisticians
- groundwater research
- urban geoscience
Our external collaborators include:
- the BioAccessibility Research Group of Europe (BARGE)
- the International Medical Geology Association
- the Society for Environmental Geochemistry and Health
- UK and international universities and research organisations
- commercial organisations, e.g. Land Quality Management; National Grid
People are exposed to potentially harmful elements in soil and dust during everyday activities, such as gardening, and from dust inhalation.
Geological controls of soil element toxicity on human health
Measuring the concentration of potentially harmful elements in soils and sediments is an important tool for monitoring environmental pollution.
Data modelling is an important part of the wider research around the environment and human health.
Geochemical hazards and deprivation
Can soil contamination affect deprivation or even crime?
Publications and research papers
Our research papers can be found using the NERC Open Research Archive, BGS staff web pages and using the ORCID or Google Scholar resources.
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