Our Research

The research programme of the HPRU in Chemical and Radiation Threats and Hazards addresses today’s priority chemical and radiation exposures affecting communities and individuals. It aims to advance our understanding of how contact with dangerous chemicals and radiation, in prolonged or in exceptional exposures, leads to ill health, to deliver timely impact on policy to improve public health protection.

Our four research Themes integrate basic science, molecular and cell biology and large-scale population studies. Together these Themes will contribute to generating new knowledge and understanding on: exposure-response relationships and their quantification based on occupational, patient and population cohorts; discovery of biological markers of chemical and radiation

exposure, effect and susceptibility and their application in risk mitigation; novel in vitro methods for the identification of radiation and chemical causes of cancer, circulatory diseases and neurological dysfunction; and developing approaches to assess the efficacy of decontamination and safe inactivation/storage methods for highly toxic chemical agents.

This Theme will improve understanding of the health impact of exposures to natural and man-made sources of radiation, including cancer risks near nuclear installations, effects from using telecommunications devices (mobile phones and police radios) and the role of ionising radiation and ultraviolet light in cardiovascular disease. For more details see here.
This Theme will enhance understanding of how chemical and radiation exposures cause disease by studying molecules found in blood or urine (biomarkers) that tell us about contact with specific agents. We will study biomarkers of ionising radiation used in healthcare (e.g. CT scans), common man-made chemicals (e.g. flame retardants, organophosphates, persistent organic pollutants) and chemical exposures near brownfield sites. For more details see here.
This Theme will deliver new knowledge on how chemicals damage cells (human or the micro-organisms that live within us) to cause disease. We will apply this learning in three real- world settings: reproductive health near brownfield sites, long-term health among workers exposed to radiation and exposures to trace levels of pesticides in food. For more details see here.
This Theme will investigate novel highly toxic chemicals, how best to protect people from the effects of these agents (including decontamination after contact) and how to remove them from the environment. This will include study of household mould, chemicals in drinking water and chemical warfare agents. For more details see here.
In addition to these core Themes, several cross-cutting programmes ensure the HPRU delivers broad impact beyond its research outputs, by involving the communities which are the subject of its research, training the next generation researchers, by promoting the translation of research outcomes into policy and responding to emerging public health challenges.