Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Stuart Harrad’s specific research foci are: the assessment of human exposure with persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and its impacts on environmental and human health. This covers pollution of a wide range of environmental matrices, e.g.: air (indoor and outdoor), indoor dust, food, human and wildlife tissues, sediment, and soil. Particular foci in recent years have been the presence of POPs in the waste stream and the implications for the Circular Economy, as well as using novel in vitro techniques to study human dermal exposure to POPs. Specific contaminants of interest are: brominated flame retardants, chlorinated organophosphate esters, and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). His current research projects include:

Assessing human dermal exposure to POPs;
The presence of halogenated flame retardants and PFAS in waste childcare articles, electronics, furnishings and building materials;
Temporal trends in environmental contamination with POPs as indicators of the impact of regulatory control measures;
Establishing baseline contamination of sediments and soils with emerging contaminants;
Enhancing understanding of the interactions between microplastics and POPs in the environment
Exploring the balance between fire risk and the risk of exposure to chemical flame retardants - informing potential revision of the UK Furniture fire safety regulations

Professor Harrad welcomes enquiries from prospective doctoral researchers in his areas of interest.

1995 …2024

Research activity per year

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Personal profile


Stuart came to Birmingham in September 1994, becoming Professor of Environmental Chemistry in 2011. Over that time, he has provided lead supervision to over 50 PhD students (from 21 different countries), co-ordinated 12 major international projects, and been PI of ~30 other research projects. Funders of his research are diverse, including: industry and consultancies, Defra, the Drinking Water Inspectorate, the Environment Agency, the EU, the European Chemical Industry Council, the Food Standards Agency, INNOVATE-UK, the Irish Environmental Protection Agency, and the NERC. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed papers, brought around £5.4M research project funding to Birmingham, and led two REF Impact Case Studies related to the influence of his research on national and international policy on POPs and related chemicals. Teaching interests cover all aspects of POPs and related contaminants and Stuart has also authored a textbook on "How to Conduct your Research Project in Environmental Science". He is Editor-in-Chief of two peer-reviewed journals: Emerging Contaminants, and The Journal of Environmental Exposure Assessment. He is also a member of Defra's Hazardous Substances Advisory Committee.  


BSc Applied Chemistry - de Montfort University (Leicester Polytechnic) 1984;

Msc in Analytical Chemistry - UEA, 1985;

PhD in Levels and sources of chlorinated dioxins in the UK environment - UEA, 1989

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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