Menu Close

Fiona E. McNeill

Professor, Physics and Astronomy, McMaster University

I am a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at McMaster University. I build biomedical devices to painlessly assess people's body burden of toxic metals. I use the technology in population studies to see whether exposure to poisonous metals can be linked to specific health effects.
I have studied lead (Pb) exposure for over 30 years, using an x-ray-based technique, and am very interested in how lead affects women's health. My work has shown effects of lead on blood pressure, menopause and pregnancy. Happily, in collaboration with Health Canada, I found that lead exposure in Canada has dropped by half since the early 1990s. Public health measures have reduced women's risk from lead.
I am also interested in the metabolism of lead in women: how lead is absorbed, where it is stored in the body and whether stored lead is released during pregnancy and menopause. This has led to an interest in the absorption of lead compounds through the skin. I am now testing the appearance of 18th century makeup recipes and whether lead in makeup could have been absorbed through the skin.


  • 1997–present
    Professor, McMaster University


  • 1989 
    University of Birmingham, U.K., Ph.D. in Physics


  • 2019
    Elemental analysis in living human subjects using biomedical devices, DR Chettle, FE McNeill Physiological Measurement 40 (12), 12TR01
  • 2017
    The decrease in population bone lead levels in Canada between 1993 and 2010 as assessed by in vivo XRF, FE McNeill, M Fisher, DR Chettle, M Inskip, N Healey, R Bray, CE Webber, ... Physiological measurement 39 (1), 015005
  • 2005
    Impact of occupational exposure on lead levels in women, M Popovic, FE McNeill, DR Chettle, CE Webber, CV Lee, WE Kaye Environmental health perspectives 113 (4), 478-484
  • 2002
    109Cd K x ray fluorescence measurements of tibial lead content in young adults exposed to lead in early childhood, FE McNeill, L Stokes, JAA Brito, DR Chettle, WE Kaye Occupational and environmental medicine 57 (7), 465-471
  • 2002
    Association between bone lead concentration and blood pressure among young adults, F Gerr, R Letz, L Stokes, D Chettle, F McNeill, W Kaye American journal of industrial medicine 42 (2), 98-106
  • 1998
    Neurotoxicity in young adults 20 years after childhood exposure to lead: the Bunker Hill experience., L Stokes, R Letz, F Gerr, M Kolczak, FE McNeill, DR Chettle, WE Kaye Occupational and environmental medicine 55 (8), 507-516

Grants and Contracts

  • 2021
    The study of 18th Century Cosmetics
    Principal Investigator
    Funding Source:
    Anonymous Philanthropic Donation
  • 2021
    The development of biomedical devices for the study of toxic metals
    Funding Source:
    Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada