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Professor Robert Chilcott - University Alliance. Hatfield, England, GB

Professor Robert Chilcott

Professor of Toxicology | University of Hertfordshire

Hatfield, England, UNITED KINGDOM

His research into chemical exposure has informed policy guidance for emergency response teams in the event of chemical attack.

Areas of Expertise (6)

Counter Terrorism


Toxic Chemicals





Professor Robert Chilcott is Professor of Toxicology in the Toxicology Research Group at the University of Hertfordshire’s Department of Clinical and Pharmaceutical Sciences. His research explores how we respond to incidents involving the deliberate or accidental release of toxic chemicals - and exploring ways of improving survival chances for those who have been exposed to these chemicals. He has examined chemical warfare agents and Toxic Industrial Chemicals (known as TICs). He works with UK police forces and coroners’ offices, and contributes to counter-terrorism investigations.

Robert’s early career involved working with toxins and chemical warfare agents for the UK’s Ministry of Defence. He went on to work in public health responses to toxic incidents within the UK’s Department of Health. His PhD looked at ways of protecting the skin from sulphur mustard burns. He has been interviewed by media on a range of chemical warfare and toxic chemical incidents - including responding to claims that using disinfecting chemicals might help to prevent COVID-19 contamination and speculation on potentially poisonous contents in jewellery.

Media Mentions (5)

Where does vanilla flavouring come from and what has it got to do with beavers’ anal secretions?

Metro  online


According to Robert Chilcott from the University of Hertfordshire: ‘Fortunately, German chemists discovered that vanillin (one of the chemicals responsible for the taste of vanilla) could be extracted from the humble conifer.

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Coronavirus: Trump’s disinfectant and sunlight claims fact-checked

BBC  online


"Injecting bleach or disinfectant at the dose required to neutralise viruses in the circulating blood would likely result in significant, irreversible harm and probably a very unpleasant death," says Rob Chilcott, professor of toxicology at the University of Hertfordshire."

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'Injecting bleach kills!': UK scientists issue warning after Trump coronavirus comments

Yahoo! News Australia  online


Professor Rob Chilcott, Professor of Toxicology at the University of Hertfordshire, said: “Injecting bleach or disinfectant at the dose required to neutralise viruses in the circulating blood would likely result in significant, irreversible harm and probably a very unpleasant death.

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Hatfield’s University of Hertfordshire to find out the most effective PPE

Welwyn Hatfield Times  online


Professor Robert Chilcott, director of the Toxicology Research Group at the University of Hertfordshire, said: “It is critically important that healthcare professionals are using the best protection available to them and have confidence that their PPE will remain effective against the virus, no matter what they’re doing and where they’re working.

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Seven sunscreen chemicals enter bloodstream after one use: Report

9 News Australia  online


"The skin is not a perfect barrier and so absorption of small amounts of chemicals from sunscreens (and indeed other skin care products such as cosmetics) is to be expected," said Rob Chilcott, a professor of toxicology at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK.

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Multimedia Appearances





Professor Robert Chilcott: Toxicological Sciences



Accomplishments (3)

Winner of the Times Higher Education Award for STEM Research Project of the Year


Office of the Vice Chancellor Research Team of the Year Award


Joint Recipient of the Best Practice award for the European Union’s Health Programme


Education (3)

Imperial College London: Ph.D. 1999

University of Birmingham: M.Sc., Toxicology 1992

University of Sheffield: B.Sc., Biochemistry and Physiology 1991

Affiliations (5)

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology
  • Chartered Biologist
  • European Registered Toxicologist
  • Media spokesperson for the UK Register of Toxicologists

Articles (5)

Decontamination and Management of Contaminated Hair following a CBRN or HazMat Incident

Toxicological Studies

2019 This in vitro study evaluated the “triple protocol” of dry decontamination, the ladder pipe system (a method for gross decontamination), and technical decontamination for the decontamination of hair following chemical contamination.

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Sebomic identification of sex- and ethnicity-specific variations in residual skin surface components (RSSC) for bio-monitoring or forensic applications

Lipids in Health and Disease

2018 “Residual skin surface components” (RSSC) is the collective term used for the superficial layer of sebum, residue of sweat, small quantities of intercellular lipids and components of natural moisturising factor present on the skin surface.

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Hybrid in vitro diffusion cell for simultaneous evaluation of hair and skin decontamination: temporal distribution of chemical contaminants

Scientific Reports

2018 Most casualty or personnel decontamination studies have focused on removing contaminants from the skin. However, scalp hair and underlying skin are the most likely areas of contamination following airborne exposure to chemicals.

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UK's initial operational response and specialist operational response to CBRN and HazMat incidents: A primer on decontamination protocols for healthcare professionals

Emergency Medicine Journal

2018 The UK is currently in the process of implementing a modified response to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear and hazardous material incidents that combines an initial operational response with a revision of the existing specialist operational response for ambulant casualties.

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Evaluation of US Federal Guidelines (Primary Response Incident Scene Management [PRISM]) for Mass Decontamination of Casualties During the Initial Operational Response to a Chemical Incident

Annals of Emergency Medicine

2018 The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical and operational effectiveness of US federal government guidance (Primary Response Incident Scene Management [PRISM]) for the initial response phase to chemical incidents.

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