Environmental Engineering Research Centre
School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering

Antonia O'Neill


A risk assessment of arsenic in various environments

Originally from Belfast, I went to school at St. Dominic’s Grammar School for Girls in the west of the city.  In 2004 I moved to Norwich, England to study Meteorology and Oceanography at the University of East Anglia (UEA).  During my third year I studied at the University of California, Santa Cruz, majoring in Earth Sciences.  On graduating from UEA in 2008, I returned to Belfast to study an MSc in Water Resources Management at Queen’s University Belfast.  I graduated in winter 2009 and began my PhD in the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering in January 2010.  During this interim period I entered the CIWEM New Members Paper Competition, with a paper adapted from my MSc thesis, presented at the final and won.  The paper, entitled ‘Phosphorus retention in a constructed wetland system used to treat dairy wastewater’, was published in April 2011 in Bioresource Technology.  In January 2010 I attended a British Council funded convoy to Malaysia, under the PMi2 scheme.   Following this three week trip I remained in Malaysia and worked as a faculty member in TATI University College, Malaysia.  I have presented at two conferences and won an award for Best Presentation in my group at the UMIES Conference in Kuala Lumpur in July 2011.  My research aims to assess the risks associated with arsenic in diverse environments.  In July 2011, I travelled to Cambodia, under the Sir Thomas Dixon Scholarship and as a partner of the DelPHE 797 project, to conduct a site study addressing the risk associated with consuming food cooked in arsenic contaminated water.  Another aspect of my research is quantifying the risk of arsenic exposure to golf course users following application of a seaweed fertiliser.  I am specifically interested in quantifying human risk and exposure to arsenic as a result of both natural and anthropogenic contamination, and finding alternative practical solutions the problem.  

Published paper:

Bioresource Technology 102 (2011) 5024–5031   

CIWEM New Members Paper 2010 winner:


Cambodian arsenic project: