Andrew D. W. Tongue

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Doctoral Researcher

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) are a group of halogenated organic chemical additives that, for several decades, have been applied to a comprehensive range of potentially-combustible manufactured products worldwide, including plastics, wood, paper, textiles, furnishings, building materials and electrical goods, to meet and comply with fire safety codes, standards and regulations.

BFRs are highly resistant to degradation and are therefore capable of long-range transport, bioaccumulation in tissues and potential trophic magnification. Certain BFRs have also been shown to have high toxicity in humans and wildlife. Widespread BFR-contamination of terrestrial and marine biotic and abiotic receptors has been documented globally.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, has designated the penta- and octa- polybrominated diphenyl ether compounds (PBDEs) as persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

This project tests the hypothesis that emissions from waste materials in landfill constitute an important source of BFR-contamination in UK avian receptors, with black-headed gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus the designated study taxon.

This project operates alongside similar North American initiatives headed by Environment Canada; it is anticipated that comparative work will be undertaken relating to North American taxa.

Potential collaborators are welcome to contact me at


  • PG Cert, PG Dip, MSc EDM (Open) The Open University
  • PG Dip City University
  • BSc (Hons) The University of Bristol


I previously worked as a Senior Research Assistant with the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science and as a Consultant Ornithologist with RPS Group Plc.

At RSPB, my research spanned two primary areas: yellow wagtail Motacilla flava utilisation of ‘Skylark Plots’ – undrilled patches in autumn-sown wheat fields, and aspects of the Environmental Impact Assessment Process relating to the potential impacts of offshore renewables on avian receptors. I also played a role in the recent launch of the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science.

At RPS Group Plc I worked on a range of projects across the UK.

Doctoral research

PhD title
Birds as bio-indicators of flame retardant emissions from landfill
Supervisors Professor Stuart Harrad (University of Birmingham), Dr James Reynolds (University of Birmingham), Dr Kim Fernie (Environment Canada)


Research interests

Avian ecotoxiology, farmland bird conservation and Environmental Impact Assessment.

Other activities

I am a keen birder and bird ringer; I am Research Officer for Cambridgeshire Bird Club.  I have been involved in hosting three recent British Ornithologists’ Union conferences and have presented research posters at the European Ornithologists Union Conference, the British Ecological Society’s Annual Meeting and the Cambridge Student Conference on Conservation Science.


Paper in progress with RSPB Centre for Conservation Science on yellow wagtail utilisation of Skylark Plots in autumn-sown cereals.