‘Biofuels’ and respiratory health – the potential of the archaeological record


  • Dr Lisa-Marie Shillito

    Newcastle University

Project summary

Biofuels have been seen as sustainable alternatives to burning fossil fuels. However, the use of silica-rich renewables can have detrimental effects on urban air quality and respiratory health. We will explore this tension by applying modern air quality modelling to an archaeological settlement, where previous research shows a significant shift in fuels used over 1,000 years, alongside decreasing settlement density. 

We will enhance our understanding of the long-term relationship between ‘biofuel’ burning, settlement density, and respiratory health. We will also look at public understanding of the detrimental effects of these fuels, which are considered ‘cleaner’ than fossil fuels. The nature of the archaeological record enables a long-term perspective and can be used as a tool for communicating health issues to communities at risk. 

The key goals are to establish a network of interdisciplinary collaborators from archaeology, civil engineering and modern environmental health research, and conduct feasibility studies to support an application for a larger award.