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The indoor home dust biome: characterising and communicating chemical hazards within our home (Ref: SF20/APP/DEAN)

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

About the Project

There is a gap in our understanding of physical, chemical and biological characteristics of household dust, which has direct relevance to human health. As a result there is a need to investigate household dust for substances of very high concern (SVHC) to human health and their risks assessed. Specifically, key toxic chemicals (e.g. bisphenols, flame retardants, asbestos etc.) and physical parameters (e.g. particulate matter) need to be determined in household dust and exposure-based risk models determined. Recent industry and government reports have highlighted significant concern from SVHC within home environment, with respect to their carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic properties linked to their persistence, bio-accumulative nature and physical size. This project proposes to collect, analyse and evaluate the implications of indoor home dust for SVHC to assess the risk to human health. By collaboration as part of the Home Biome project ( and, indoor house dust samples will be obtained globally to assess for a range of SVHC including asbestos, flame retardants, PAHs and bisphenols. The project will also assess the human implications and consequences of choice in the indoor home and its subsequent contribution to the occurrence of SVHC. Additional indoor air quality parameters using portable monitors will also be collected. Analysis will be done using analytical instrumentation (GC-MS and microscopy). Extensive data treatment will evaluate the risk to humans (children and adults) using the latest models to estimate potential inhalation and ingestion rates using life cycle analysis. Training and support will additionally include use of relevant analytical instrumentation, sampling techniques, sample preparation and data analysis to undertake complex sample analyses and modelling.

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications should include a covering letter that includes a short summary (500 words max.) of a relevant piece of research that you have previously completed and the reasons you consider yourself suited to the project. Applications that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF20/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 1st July for October start, or 1st December for March start
Start Date: October or March
Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Please direct enquiries to Prof John Dean ()

Funding Notes

Please note, this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend; the studentship is available to Students Worldwide. Fee bands are available at View Website . A relevant fee band will be discussed at interview based on project running costs.


“Mineralogy, solid-phase fractionation and chemical extraction to assess the mobility and availability of arsenic in an urban environment”, P.M. Amaibi, J.A. Entwistle, N. Kennedy, M. Cave, S. Kemp, S. Potgieter-Vermaak, J.R. Dean. Applied Geochemistry, 100 (2019) 244-257.

“An apple a day? Assessing gardeners’ lead exposure in urban agriculture sites to improve the derivation of soil assessment criteria”, J.A. Entwistle, P.M. Amaibi, J.R. Dean, M.E. Deary, D. Medock, J. Morton, I. Rodushkin, L. Bramwell, Environment International, 122 (2019) 130-141.

“Enhancing the interpretation of in vitro bioaccessibility data by using Computer Controlled Scanning Electron Microscopy (CCSEM) at the individual particle level”, J.A. Entwistle, N. Boisa, J.R. Dean and A. Hunt. Environmental Pollution, 228 (2017) 443-453.

“Use of Simulated Epithelial Lung Fluid in Assessing the Human Health Risk of Pb in Urban Street Dust”, J.R. Dean, N.I. Elom and J.A. Entwistle, Science of the Total Environment, 579 (2017) 387-395.

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