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The University of Southampton
Environmental Healthcare Unit


The Environmental Healthcare Unit (EHU) was established, within the School of Biological Sciences, in November 2000, with Professor C.W. Keevil as Director.

The Unit investigates the survival and metabolism of microorganisms in environmental, food, water and clinical samples, including biofilms. In addition, work is concerned with prion diseases, with a particular focus on decontamination procedures and surgical instrument decontamination.

Using ACDP containment level 1, 2 and 3 laboratory facilities, work is carried out on pathogenic bacteria and prion infected animal and human tissues. Past and present studies have included investigations into the bacterial persistence and survival in drinking water systems and associated biofilms, prevalence of pathogens on salad crops and efficacy of washing methods, the use of copper alloys in the reduction of surface contamination and the efficacy of disinfection methods, antifouling strategies for marine sensor devices and studies on the detection of prion proteins and subsequent decontamination from surgical surfaces.

Using specialised microscopy and molecular methods in conjunction with standard microbiology approaches, focus is given to the development of new methods for use in complex samples, particularly biofilms, the assessment of bacterial viability states and improved approaches for the decontamination and disinfection of surfaces and surgical instruments.

The emphasis of all the work is to provide real world solutions by studying complex real world samples.

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