Professor Crispin Halsall

Director, Faculty Director of Natural Sciences

Research Overview

Crispin is an environmental chemist who has a deep interest in how synthetic organic chemicals behave in the environment. He is particularly interested in assessing and reducing the risks posed by some of these chemicals to both the wider environment and to human health.

He researches the fate of industrial chemicals, pesticides and pharmaceuticals and those factors that affect their longevity in the environment, including in remote regions like the Arctic!

Published research

Crispin has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers (see tabs below) on chemical pollutants and their fate. Many of these papers are focused on pollutant transport and accumulation within cold regions, particularly the Arctic where the combined stressors of climate-change and persistent chemicals are impacting foodwebs, notably marine wildlife. Much of this science feeds into international efforts to assess the risks posed by chemical substances and, where the evidence is strongest, ultimately curb their production and use. Aspects of chemical risk and how this is undertaken is another area of Crispin’s research portfolio alongside understanding fundamental chemical fate processes in the environment.

Funding organisations and recent projects include:

  • Arctic pollution research: The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) 'Changing Arctic Ocean' and the EISPAC project; EU’s 7th Framework Programme - ArcRisk project
  • Pesticide photodegradation: Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), The British Council
  • Pharmaceuticals in aquatic systems and analytical instrumentation: Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), United Utilities and other private sector organisations
  • Plastic polymer fate in soil systems and the measurement of microplastics

Current research projects include:

  • Accumulation of ‘emerging’ chemical contaminants in the snowpack;
  • Analytical determination of antibiotics in aquatic systems and novel degradation/removal processes;
  • Pesticide photo-degradation on crop surfaces;
  • Improving the chemical risk assessment process for policymakers

Listen to Crispin talking about the impact of chemical pollutants on wildlife on Monty Don’s ‘Shared Planet’ series on BBC Radio 4 or read more about this research. A really interesting science story on the fate of perfluoroalkylated substances (PFASs) in sea ice (PFASs includes chemicals like PFOS and PFOA that are used in the production of 'nonstick' polymers) can be read here


Crispin is the Director of Natural Sciences in the Faculty of Science & Technology. He also serves as theme leader for the Atmosphere, Climate & Pollution (ACP) grouping in Lancaster Environment Centre.

National/international roles include:

  • Member of the Arctic Monitoring Assessment ‘POPs expert group’;
  • Review Panel member of the Research Council of Norway;
  • Recent member of the NERC peer-review college;
  • Member of SETAC’s ‘Friends of the UN’ observer scientist cohort
  • Editorial board member of the journal ‘Toxics’


Crispin’s teaching profile has included:

  • An undergraduate course on Biogeochemical Processes as part of the LEC BSc degree schemes in Earth, Environmental Science and Geography
  • Two highly popular Masters postgraduate courses in Chemical Risk Assessment and Environment Toxicology

Outside interests

When Crispin is not in the department he can be found running in the Bowland Fells (Fjell (Nordic) = hill) and is a member of Bowland Fell Runners. Crispin’s tries to compete in at least one category-A 'long' fell race each year. Recent notable races that he has run include the Yorkshire Three Peaks, the Duddon Valley and the Ennerdale Horseshoe fell races. In 2017 Crispin successfully completed the ‘Bob Graham Round'.