Human Pathogens in the Environment

The ESHH lab aims to quantify the survival, persistence, and distribution of pathogenic viruses, bacteria and protozoa in the environment, including in water, sediment, soil, faeces, and vegetation, that are harmful to humans. This is used to:

  • Understand exposure routes
  • Develop risk assessments
  • Design guidelines and tools for environmental management

The Human Pathogens in the Environment research portfolio falls within a broader remit of environmental pollutant studies.



rq-ppProfessor Richard Quilliam
Professor of Environment and Health


oliverDr David Oliver
Associate Professor


me.jpgDr Heather Price


vanessa.jpgDr Vanessa Moresco
Postdoctoral researcher


picture18Sarah Buckerfield
PhD Student


jJonathan Fletcher
PhD Student


profile-picture-4.jpgHeather Purshouse
PhD Student


Emmanuel_AfolabiEmmanuel Afolabi
PhD Student



Natalie Boyd Williams
PhD Student




Critical zone science in China

Microbial hitch-hikers of marine plastics: the survival, persistence and ecology of microbial communities in the ‘Plastisphere’’ (£1.85m; NERC; PI Professor Richard Quilliam)

Value-added marketing of mangrove oysters as an alternative livelihoods strategy for female gatherers in Sierra Leone (in collaboration with the Institute of Aquaculture)

Understanding hydrological and land-use controls on microbial pollution & human health risks in the South West China karst region

Optimising multi-pollutant phytoremediation strategies to sustainably improve raw water quality

Opportunities and barriers for recovering value from faecal sludge in African cities

Quantifying the risk of wildlife contributions to diffuse microbial pollution in agricultural catchments

The role of human excreta in building sustainable rural futures

Exploiting insects as feed for sustainable salmon farming – identifying the risks of pathogen transfer within the production chain (completed)


Selected Publications

Price, H., Adams, E., Quilliam, R. (2019). The difference a day can make: the temporal dynamics of drinking water access and quality in urban slums. Science of the Total Environment, 671, 818-826. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.03.355

Quilliam RS, Taylor J & Oliver DM (2019). The disparity between regulatory measurements of E. coli in public bathing waters and the public expectation of bathing water quality, Journal of Environmental Management, 232, 868-874. DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.11.138

Adams, E., Price, H., Stoler, J. (2019) Urban slums, drinking water and health: trends and lessons from sub-Saharan Africa. In: Handbook of Global Urban Health, Routledge (in press).

Fletcher J, Willby NJ, Oliver DMQuilliam RS (2019). “Phytoremediation using Aquatic Plants” in Shmaefsky, BR. (Ed), Phytoremediation – In-Situ Applications (Advanced Concepts & Strategies in Plant Sciences), Springer Nature. ISBN978-3-030-00099-8. In press.

Rodrigues A, Oliver DM,  McCarron A, Quilliam RS (2019). Colonisation of plastic pellets (nurdles) by E. coli at public bathing beaches. Marine Pollution Bulletin 139, 376-380. DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2019.01.011

Buckerfield SJ, Waldron S, Quilliam RS, Naylor LA, Li S & Oliver DM (2019). How can we improve understanding of faecal indicator dynamics in
karst systems under changing climatic, population, and land use
stressors? – Research opportunities in SW China. Science of the Total Environment 646, 438-447. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.07.292

Oliver DM, Bartie PJ, Heathwaite AL, Reaney SM., Parnell JAQ & Quilliam RS(2018). A catchment-scale model to predict spatial and temporal burden of E.colion pasture from grazing livestock. Science of the Total Environment,  616-617, 678-687. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.10.263

Swinscoe I, Oliver DM, Gilburn AS & Quilliam RS (2018). The seaweed fly (Coelopidae) can facilitate environmental survival and transmission of E. coli O157 at sandy beaches. Journal of Environmental Management, 223, 275-285. DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.06.045