Case Study:
Professor Jane Entwistle

Jane is Professor of Environmental Geochemistry at Northumbria University.

How pollution impacts our health

Jane travels the world to collect samples of environmental media such as soils, plants, lake sediments and dusts, which she brings back to her laboratory for analysis. She is interested in understanding how environmental pollution is linked to health, and the samples she collects help her examine this connection.

“We need to explore these relationships in more detail. Environmental exposures to pollutants are complex; complex geochemically and complex geographically.”

As research linking the environment to human health is starting to mature, Jane and her colleagues across the world are starting to understand the many ways we come in contact with pollutants in our everyday lives, even before we are born!

Geography, allotments and dust

At primary school Jane’s favourite subject was geography, as she was keen to learn about the earth and the environment. She took geography, biology and geology as A-levels and went to study physical geography at university.

“Learning about soils and plants at school inspired me to go to University, where I was encouraged to go into research, a career I had never considered until then.”

More recently Jane has been studying the levels of lead in soil across urban agricultural sites, like allotments. In high concentrations, lead can be bad for your health. Jane is also interested in studying indoor pollutants by studying dust samples from people’s houses.

Jane leans over a vegetable bed

Jane’s advice to young people

“Stick with it. Decide on an area of particular interest but keep your reading and learning broad; the environment needs people who see issues holistically.”


Jane enjoys being outdoors as much as she can. She particularly likes running and gardening. Here’s a photo of her in an allotment collecting soil samples.