Dr David O’Connor


Dr. O’Connor is a lecturer in sustainable land management in the School of Real Estate & Land Management at the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester, UK. He gained his PhD from Cambridge University where he also worked as a postdoctoral researcher. Between 2016 and 2020 he worked at Tsinghua University, Beijing. David’s research involves pollution issues relating to brownfield development as well as agricultural land degradation. His principle is that land requires careful stewardship in order to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. David’s research in this subject has led to 49 SCI articles in journals including Nature, Science, Nature Sustainability, Nature Reviews: Earth & Environment. He is currently serving as an Associate Editor for Soil Use and Management, and as an editorial board member for the Journal of Hazardous Materials and Science of the Total Environment.


Research interests

  • Biochar production, modification and its application in soil systems
  • Microplastic (MP) distribution, fate and transport in terrestrial systems
  • Distribution and behaviour of heavy metal(loid)s in soil and risk management
  • Sustainable remediation of contaminated land involving environmental and socio-economic sustainability appraisal of environmental remediation strategies
  • Green synthesis of nanoparticles for environmental applications
  • Nature based solutions (NBS) for contaminated land management and brownfield redevelopment
  • Greener remediation technologies that reduce the environmental impacts of land management
  • Stabilization agents for heavy metal immobilization within contaminated soils


  • 3026 Contemporary Issues in Property & Society
  • 3300 Research Project/Dissertation
  • 4007 Dissertation
  • 4244 Research and Dissertation


Academic journal papers

  • Metal contamination and bioremediation of agricultural soils for food safety and sustainability. Hou, D., O’Connor, D., Igalavithana, A.D. et al. Nature Reviews Earth & Environment 1, 366–381 (2020).
  • Trade war threatens sustainability. D Hou, D O'Connor, C Sonne, YS Ok. Science 364 (6447), 2019, 1242-1243
  • More haste, less speed in replenishing China's groundwater. D O'Connor, D Hou. Nature 569 (7757), 2019, 487-487
  • The effects of iniquitous lead exposure on health. D O’Connor, D Hou, YS Ok, BP Lanphear. Nature Sustainability, 2020, 3 (2), 77-79
  • Sustainable soil use and management: An interdisciplinary and systematic approach. D Hou, NS Bolan, DCW Tsang, MB Kirkham, D O'Connor. Science of The Total Environment, 2020, 138961
  • The Need to Prioritize Sustainable Phosphate‐based Fertilizers. Da Tian, Zhen Li, David O'Connor, Zhengtao Shen. January 2020. Soil Use and Management. DOI: 10.1111/sum.12578
  • The development of groundwater research in the past 40 years: A burgeoning trend in groundwater depletion and sustainable management. X Jia, D Hou, L Wang, D O'Connor, J Luo. Journal of Hydrology, 2020, 125006
  • Exogenous phosphorus treatment facilitates chelation-mediated cadmium detoxification in perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.). H Jia, D Hou, D O’Connor, S Pan, J Zhu, NS Bolan, J Mulder. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 2020, 389, 121849
  • Sulfur-modified biochar as a soil amendment to stabilize mercury pollution: An accelerated simulation of long-term aging effects. B Zhao, D O'Connor, Z Shen, DCW Tsang, J Rinklebe, D Hou. Environmental Pollution, 2020, 114687
  • Effects of excessive impregnation, magnesium content, and pyrolysis temperature on MgO-coated watermelon rind biochar and its lead removal capacity. J Zhang, D Hou, Z Shen, F Jin, D O'Connor, S Pan, YS Ok, DCW Tsang et al. Environmental Research, 2020 183, 109152
  • A numerical model to optimize LNAPL remediation by multi-phase extraction. S Qi, J Luo, D O'Connor, Y Wang, D Hou. Science of The Total Environment, 2020 718, 137309
  • Modeling the risk of U(VI) migration through an engineered barrier system at a proposed Chinese high-level radioactive waste repository. X Cao, L Zheng, D Hou, D O'Connor, L Hu, J Wu. Science of The Total Environment 707, 2020, 135472
  • A green biochar/iron oxide composite for methylene blue removal. P Zhang, D O’Connor, Y Wang, L Jiang, T Xia, L Wang, DCW Tsang, et al. Journal of hazardous materials, 2020, 384, 121286
  • Blood lead levels among Chinese children: The shifting influence of industry, traffic, and e-waste over three decades. Y Zhang, D O'Connor, W Xu, D Hou. Environment International, 2020, 135, 105379
  • New trends in biochar pyrolysis and modification strategies: feedstock, pyrolysis conditions, sustainability concerns and implications for soil amendment. L Wang, YS Ok, DCW Tsang, DS Alessi, J Rinklebe, H Wang, O Mašek, et al. Soil Use and Management, 2020, In Press
  • Remediation of mercury contaminated soil, water, and air: A review of emerging materials and innovative technologies. L Wang, D Hou, Y Cao, YS Ok, FMG Tack, J Rinklebe, D O'Connor. Environment international, 2020, 134, 105281
  • Influence of groundwater table fluctuation on the non-equilibrium transport of volatile organic contaminants in the vadose zone. S Qi, J Luo, D O'Connor, X Cao, D Hou. Journal of Hydrology, 2020, 580, 124353
  • Temporal effect of MgO reactivity on the stabilization of lead contaminated soil. Z Shen, S Pan, D Hou, D O'Connor, F Jin, L Mo, D Xu, Z Zhang, DS Alessi. Environment international, 2019, 131, 104990
  • Risk evaluation of biochars produced from Cd-contaminated rice straw and optimization of its production for Cd removal. Z Shen, X Fan, D Hou, F Jin, D O'Connor, DCW Tsang, YS Ok, DS Alessi. Chemosphere, 2019, 233, 149-156
  • Solidification/stabilization for soil remediation: an old technology with new vitality. Z Shen, F Jin, D O’Connor, D Hou. Environmental science & technology, 2019, 53 (20), 11615-11617
  • Phytoremediation: Climate change resilience and sustainability assessment at a coastal brownfield redevelopment. D O'Connor, X Zheng, D Hou, Z Shen, G Li, G Miao, S O'Connell, M Guo. Environment international, 2019, 130, 104945
  • Lead contamination in Chinese surface soils: source identification, spatial-temporal distribution and associated health risks. Y Zhang, D Hou, D O’Connor, Z Shen, P Shi, YS Ok, DCW Tsang, Y Wen, et al. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, 2019, 49 (15), 1386-1423
  • Groundwater depletion and contamination: Spatial distribution of groundwater resources sustainability in China. X Jia, D O'Connor, D Hou, Y Jin, G Li, C Zheng, YS Ok, DCW Tsang, J Luo. Science of The Total Environment, 2019, 672, 551-562
  • Strengthening social-environmental management at contaminated sites to bolster Green and Sustainable Remediation via a survey. D O'Connor, D Müller-Grabherr, D Hou. Chemosphere, 2019, 225, 295-303
  • Microplastics undergo accelerated vertical migration in sand soil due to small size and wet-dry cycles. D O'Connor, S Pan, Z Shen, Y Song, Y Jin, WM Wu, D Hou. Environmental pollution, 2019, 249, 527-534
  • High stress low-flow (HSLF) sampling: A newly proposed groundwater purge and sampling approach. Y Wang, D Hou, S Qi, D O'Connor, J Luo. Science of The Total Environment, 2019, 664, 127-132
  • Mercury speciation, transformation, and transportation in soils, atmospheric flux, and implications for risk management: A critical review. D O'Connor, D Hou, YS Ok, J Mulder, L Duan, Q Wu, S Wang, FMG Tack, et al. Environment international, 2019, 126, 747-761
  • Nature based solutions for contaminated land remediation and brownfield redevelopment in cities: a review. Y Song, N Kirkwood, Č Maksimović, X Zhen, D O'Connor, Y Jin, D Hou. Science of the Total Environment, 2019, 663, 568-579
  • Green synthesis of nanoparticles for the remediation of contaminated waters and soils: Constituents, synthesizing methods, and influencing factors. Y Wang, D O’Connor, Z Shen, IMC Lo, DCW Tsang, S Pehkonen, S Pu, .et al. Journal of cleaner production, 2019,
  • One-pot green synthesis of bimetallic hollow palladium-platinum nanotubes for enhanced catalytic reduction of p-nitrophenol. Y Wang, Q Li, P Zhang, D O'Connor, RS Varma, M Yu, D Hou. Journal of colloid and interface science, 2019, 539, 161-167
  • Assessment of sources of heavy metals in soil and dust at children's playgrounds in Beijing using GIS and multivariate statistical analysis. Y Jin, D O'Connor, YS Ok, DCW Tsang, A Liu, D Hou. Environment international, 2019, 124, 320-328
  • Spatial distribution of lead contamination in soil and equipment dust at children's playgrounds in Beijing, China. T Peng, D O'Connor, B Zhao, Y Jin, Y Zhang, L Tian, N Zheng, X Li, D Hou. Environmental pollution, 2019, 245, 363-370
  • Lead-based paint remains a major public health concern: A critical review of global production, trade, use, exposure, health risk, and implications. D O'Connor, D Hou, J Ye, Y Zhang, YS Ok, Y Song, F Coulon, T Peng, et al. Environment international, 2018, 121, 85-101
  • Lead-based paint in children's toys sold on China's major online shopping platforms. Z Shen, D Hou, P Zhang, Y Wang, Y Zhang, P Shi, D O'Connor. Environmental Pollution 241, 2018, 311-318
  • Sustainable in situ remediation of recalcitrant organic pollutants in groundwater with controlled release materials: A review. D O'Connor, D Hou, YS Ok, Y Song, AK Sarmah, X Li, FMG Tack. Journal of Controlled Release, 2018, 283, 200-213
  • Farmers' perceptions and adaptation behaviours concerning land degradation: A theoretical framework and a case‐study in the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau of China. K Liu, D Huisingh, J Zhu, Y Ma, D O'Connor, D Hou. Land degradation & development, 2018, 29 (8), 2460-2471
  • Green and size-specific synthesis of stable Fe–Cu oxides as earth-abundant adsorbents for malachite green removal. P Zhang, D Hou, D O’Connor, X Li, S Pehkonen, RS Varma, X Wang. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 2018, 6 (7), 9229-9236
  • Sulfur-modified rice husk biochar: a green method for the remediation of mercury contaminated soil. D O'Connor, T Peng, G Li, S Wang, L Duan, J Mulder, G Cornelissen, et al. Science of the total environment, 2018, 621, 819-826
  • Biochar application for the remediation of heavy metal polluted land: a review of in situ field trials. D O'Connor, T Peng, J Zhang, DCW Tsang, DS Alessi, Z Shen, NS Bolan, et al. Science of the total environment, 2018, 619, 815-826
  • A sustainability assessment framework for agricultural land remediation in China. D Hou, Z Ding, G Li, L Wu, P Hu, G Guo, X Wang, Y Ma, D O'Connor, et al. Land Degradation & Development, 2018, 29 (4), 1005-1018
  • Effect of pyrolysis temperature, heating rate, and residence time on rapeseed stem derived biochar. B Zhao, D O'Connor, J Zhang, T Peng, Z Shen, DCW Tsang, D Hou. Journal of Cleaner Production, 2018, 174, 977-987
  • Climate change mitigation potential of contaminated land redevelopment: A city-level assessment method. D Hou, Y Song, J Zhang, M Hou, D O'Connor, M Harclerode. Journal of Cleaner Production, 2018, 171, 1396-1406
  • Environmental and socio-economic sustainability appraisal of contaminated land remediation strategies: A case study at a mega-site in China. Y Song, D Hou, J Zhang, D O'Connor, G Li, Q Gu, S Li, P Liu. Science of the Total Environment, 2018, 610, 391-401
  • Targeting cleanups towards a more sustainable future. D O'Connor, D Hou. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, 2018, 20 (2), 266-269
  • High efficiency removal of methylene blue using SDS surface-modified ZnFe2O4 nanoparticles. P Zhang, I Lo, D O'Connor, S Pehkonen, H Cheng, D Hou. Journal of colloid and interface science, 2018, 508, 39-48
  • Integrated GIS and multivariate statistical analysis for regional scale assessment of heavy metal soil contamination: A critical review. D Hou, D O'Connor, P Nathanail, L Tian, Y Ma. Environmental Pollution, 2017, 231, 1188-1200
  • Incorporating life cycle assessment with health risk assessment to select the ‘greenest’cleanup level for Pb contaminated soil. D Hou, S Qi, B Zhao, M Rigby, D O'Connor. Journal of Cleaner Production, 2017, 162, 1157-1168
  • Comparing the adoption of contaminated land remediation technologies in the United States, United Kingdom, and China. D Hou, D O'Connor, A Al‐Tabbaa. Remediation Journal, 2014, 25 (1), 33-51
  • Modeling the diffusion of contaminated site remediation technologies. D Hou, D O’Connor, A Al-Tabbaa. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, 2014, 225 (9), 2111

Book Chapters

  • Sustainable Remediation and Socio-Environmental Management at Contaminated Sites. D Hou, D O'Connor, Y. Jin. March 2020. DOI: 10.1201/9780429322563-2. In book: Soil and Groundwater Remediation Technologies
  • Post-Remediation Site Management. D Hou, D O'Connor, Y Song. March 2020. DOI: 10.1201/9780429322563-18. In book: Soil and Groundwater Remediation Technologies
  • Green and sustainable remediation: past, present, and future developments. D Hou and D O'Connor. January 2020. DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-817982-6.00002-1. In book: Sustainable Remediation of Contaminated Soil and Groundwater
  • The use of biochar for sustainable treatment of contaminated soils. Z Shen, Y Zhang, O McMillan, D O’Connor, D Hou. January 2020. DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-817982-6.00006-9. In book: Sustainable Remediation of Contaminated Soil and Groundwater
  • Sustainability assessment for remediation decision-making. D O’Connor and D Hou. January 2020. DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-817982-6.00003-3. In book: Sustainable Remediation of Contaminated Soil and Groundwater
  • Green and sustainable remediation: concepts, principles, and pertaining research. D Hou and D O'Connor. January 2020. DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-817982-6.00001-X. In book: Sustainable Remediation of Contaminated Soil and Groundwater