Pharmaceutical burden in UK soils- A snap shot in time.

Supervisor: Dr Felicity Elder

Department: School of Geography, University of Leeds


Organic fertilisers, manure and slurry can contain a wide variety of emerging chemical pollutants including human and veterinary medicines, personal care products, pesticides and industrial chemicals depending on their origin, with the fate and persistence of these chemicals poorly understood within the soil environment.

This project will fall under the SPADE project, currently funded through the University of Leeds Enhancing Research Culture fund. SPADE will provide a snapshot in time for the pharmaceutical burden in UK soils treated with organic fertilisers. We anticipate 150 – 200 soil samples will be shipped to the University of Leeds ready for chemical analysis. This summer placement project has therefore been designed with a clear objective of completing pharmaceutical analysis on sub- section of soil samples where organic fertilisers have been used from across the UK to contribute to the successful delivery of this project. This will include the extraction of pharmaceuticals from soil and their quantification using analytical chemistry techniques including liquid chromatography mass spectrometry. The summer placement student will work closely with PDRAs leading this project to gain laboratory experience in this research area.

This work will also feed into public engagement and knowledge exchange activities that are planned as part of the project. Offering a student, not just the chance to gain experiences with key environmental chemistry techniques but also to be a part in public engagement activities with farmers to promote knowledge exchange.