Skip to content

Development of robust inhalation simulation procedures for measuring exposure to potentially harmful elements from soil particulates

Human exposure to soil-dust can be climate driven in that airborne particulates can be transported (and deposited great distances from the point of origin) through the atmosphere by weather and climatic patterns. The impact of air quality and particulate matter on human health is well recognized. Particle loading plays a significant role in the detrimental health effects but quantification of dissolved potentially harmful elements (PHE) from the particles into the bloodstream is also critical. Following the trapping of larger particles in the trachea, small bronchi and bronchioles particles (<10µm) migrate further into the respiratory bronchioles and alveoli and are dissolved in the fluids becoming bioaccessible and able to pass through the lung wall into the circulatory system.

Current methods used to assess the hazard exposure from particulates and dust are crude and do not represent the physico-chemical environment of the respiratory system.

The aim of this research is to develop physiologically relevant in-vitro methods to quantify PHE release into lung fluids and gain an understanding of the chemical speciation of the PHE released into the lung fluid.

Research will focus on:

  • Developing a dynamic flow-through inhalation systems to simulate the release of PHE into lung fluid.
  • Studying the effect of lung fluid chemistry, reaction time, solid to liquid ratio on PHE solubility and the dynamics of PHE passing through the lung wall using osmotic pressure cells incorporating lung fluid and simulated blood plasma.

The student will benefit from wider interaction within research groups at Lancaster and BGS and international collaborators with personal development opportunities available through the organisations. With this PhD there is the potential to work with our international colleagues as part of an overseas placement, e.g. Portugal, Brazil.

The successful applicant will be expected to present their results at BGS science events and have the opportunity to present at an international conference.

The researcher will also benefit from the wider ENVISION training programme and will be eligible for NERC funded training courses.

Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in environmental science or applied chemistry.

For further information please email Joanna Wragg:, Mark Cave: or Kirk Semple: