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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, Volume 11, Issue 5 (May 2014), Pages 4555-5566

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Open AccessArticle An Interactive Wireless Communication System for Visually Impaired People Using City Bus Transport
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4560-4571; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504560
Received: 20 February 2014 / Revised: 9 April 2014 / Accepted: 15 April 2014 / Published: 25 April 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (936 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Visually impaired people have difficulty accessing information about public transportation systems. Several systems have been developed for assisting visually impaired and blind people to use the city bus. Most systems provide only one-way communication and require high-cost and complex equipment. The purpose [...] Read more.
Visually impaired people have difficulty accessing information about public transportation systems. Several systems have been developed for assisting visually impaired and blind people to use the city bus. Most systems provide only one-way communication and require high-cost and complex equipment. The purpose of this study is to reduce the difficulties faced by visually impaired people when taking city buses, using an interactive wireless communication system. The system comprised a user module and a bus module to establish a direct one-to-one connection. When the user inputs 4-digit numbers, the user module immediately sends out the information. If the bus module receives the matched bus number, it buzzes and the warning LED flashes to notify the bus driver that someone is waiting to board on the bus. User tests were conducted by two visually impaired people in a simulated vehicle and a city bus. The success rate of interactive wireless communication, recognizing the arrival of the bus and boarding the correct bus reached 100% in all of the tests. The interactive wireless communication aid system is a valid and low-cost device for assisting visually impaired people to use city buses. Full article
Open AccessArticle A Survey Aimed at General Citizens of the US and Japan about Their Attitudes toward Electronic Medical Data Handling
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4572-4588; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504572
Received: 11 February 2014 / Revised: 27 March 2014 / Accepted: 11 April 2014 / Published: 25 April 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1250 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Objectives: To clarify the views of the general population of two countries (US and Japan), concerning the handling of their medical records electronically. Methods: We contacted people nationwide in the United States at random via Random Digit Dialing (RDD) to [...] Read more.
Objectives: To clarify the views of the general population of two countries (US and Japan), concerning the handling of their medical records electronically. Methods: We contacted people nationwide in the United States at random via Random Digit Dialing (RDD) to obtain 200 eligible responders. The questionnaire was for obtaining the information on their attitudes towards handling of their medical records, disclosure of the name of disease, secondary usage of information, compiling their records into a lifelong medical record, and access to their medical records on the Internet. We had also surveyed people of Shizuoka prefecture in Japan using same questionnaires sent by mail, for which we obtained 457 valid answers. Results: Even in an unidentifiable manner, US people feel profit-oriented usage of medical data without specific consent is not acceptable. There is a significant difference between usage of unidentifiable medical data for profit (about 50% feel negatively) and for official/research purposes (about 30% feel negatively). About 60% of the US responders have a negative view on the proposal that unidentifiable medical information be utilized for profit by private companies to attain healthcare cost savings. As regards compiling a lifelong medical record, positive answers and negative answers are almost equally divided in the US (46% vs. 38%) while more positive attitudes are seen in Japan (74% vs. 12%). However, any incentive measures aimed at changing attitudes to such a compiling including the discount of healthcare costs or insurance fees are unwelcomed by people regardless of their age or health condition in both surveys. Regarding the access to their own medical record via the Internet, 38% of the US responders feel this is unacceptable while 50.5% were willing to accept it. Conclusions: Participants from the US think that the extent of the sharing their identifiable medical records should be limited to the doctors-in-charge and specified doctors referred to by their own doctors. On the other hand, Japanese people find it acceptable for doctors of the same hospital to share their medical records. Even in unidentifiable manner, people in both countries think the profits resulting from the secondary use of medical records should be returned to the public or patients. With regard to compiling a lifelong medical record, participants from the US provided both positive answers and negative answers, while more positive attitudes were observed in Japan. However, any incentives or measures aimed at changing attitudes towards such a compilation, including provision of a discount on healthcare costs or insurance fees, were not welcomed by participants from US as well as those from Japan, regardless of their age or health condition. Full article
Open AccessArticle Cyanobacterial Xenobiotics as Evaluated by a Caenorhabditis elegans Neurotoxicity Screening Test
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4589-4606; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504589
Received: 7 February 2014 / Revised: 8 April 2014 / Accepted: 14 April 2014 / Published: 25 April 2014
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (1101 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In fresh waters cyanobacterial blooms can produce a variety of toxins, such as microcystin variants (MCs) and anatoxin-a (ANA). ANA is a well-known neurotoxin, whereas MCs are hepatotoxic and, to a lesser degree, also neurotoxic. Neurotoxicity applies especially to invertebrates lacking [...] Read more.
In fresh waters cyanobacterial blooms can produce a variety of toxins, such as microcystin variants (MCs) and anatoxin-a (ANA). ANA is a well-known neurotoxin, whereas MCs are hepatotoxic and, to a lesser degree, also neurotoxic. Neurotoxicity applies especially to invertebrates lacking livers. Current standardized neurotoxicity screening methods use rats or mice. However, in order to minimize vertebrate animal experiments as well as experimental time and effort, many investigators have proposed the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as an appropriate invertebrate model. Therefore, four known neurotoxic compounds (positive compounds: chlorpyrifos, abamectin, atropine, and acrylamide) were chosen to verify the expected impacts on autonomic (locomotion, feeding, defecation) and sensory (thermal, chemical, and mechanical sensory perception) functions in C. elegans. This study is another step towards successfully establishing C. elegans as an alternative neurotoxicity model. By using this protocol, anatoxin-a adversely affected locomotive behavior and pharyngeal pumping frequency and, most strongly, chemotactic and thermotactic behavior, whereas MC-LR impacted locomotion, pumping, and mechanical behavior, but not chemical sensory behavior. Environmental samples can also be screened in this simple and fast way for neurotoxic characteristics. The filtrate of a Microcystis aeruginosa culture, known for its hepatotoxicity, also displayed mild neurotoxicity (modulated short-term thermotaxis). These results show the suitability of this assay for environmental cyanotoxin-containing samples. Full article
Open AccessArticle Biofilm Formation and Antimicrobial Susceptibility of Staphylococcus epidermidis Strains from a Hospital Environment
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4619-4633; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504619
Received: 21 January 2014 / Revised: 8 April 2014 / Accepted: 16 April 2014 / Published: 25 April 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (358 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The hospital environment microflora comprise a wide variety of microorganisms which are more or less pathogenic and where staphylococci are one of the most common types. The aim of the presented study was to evaluate the prevalence of the biofilm forming coagulase-negative [...] Read more.
The hospital environment microflora comprise a wide variety of microorganisms which are more or less pathogenic and where staphylococci are one of the most common types. The aim of the presented study was to evaluate the prevalence of the biofilm forming coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS) in a hospital environment as a risk factor for nosocomial infections. Among 122 isolated and tested strains of CoNS the most frequent were: S. epidermidis—32 strains, S. haemolyticus—31 strains, S. capitis subsp. capitis 21 strains, S. hominis—11 strains, S. cohnii subsp. cohnii—nine strains. In case of CoNS, the main molecule responsible for intercellular adhesion is a polysaccharide intercellular adhesin (PIA), encoded on the ica gene operon. The analysis revealed the presence of the icaADBC operon genes in 46.88% of S. epidermidis isolates. IcaA and icaD were present in 34.38% and 28.13% of strains respectively while IcaC gene was present in 37.50% of strains. IcaB gene was found in 21.88% of S. epidermidis strains. In 15 (63%) strains all icaADBC operon genes were observed. The assessment of antibacterial drugs susceptibility demonstrated that analyzed CoNS strains were highly resistant to macrolides and lincosamides and more sensitive to rifampicin and linezolid. Our data indicates that the hospital environment can be colonized by biofilm forming coagulase-negative staphylococci and transmission of these strains can cause an increased risk of serious nosocomial infections. Full article
Open AccessArticle Drinking Water Quality Guidelines across Canadian Provinces and Territories: Jurisdictional Variation in the Context of Decentralized Water Governance
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4634-4651; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504634
Received: 17 February 2014 / Revised: 8 April 2014 / Accepted: 17 April 2014 / Published: 25 April 2014
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Abstract
This article presents the first comprehensive review and analysis of the uptake of the Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines (CDWQG) across Canada’s 13 provinces and territories. This review is significant given that Canada’s approach to drinking water governance is: (i) highly decentralized [...] Read more.
This article presents the first comprehensive review and analysis of the uptake of the Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines (CDWQG) across Canada’s 13 provinces and territories. This review is significant given that Canada’s approach to drinking water governance is: (i) highly decentralized and (ii) discretionary. Canada is (along with Australia) only one of two Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member states that does not comply with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation that all countries have national, legally binding drinking water quality standards. Our review identifies key differences in the regulatory approaches to drinking water quality across Canada’s 13 jurisdictions. Only 16 of the 94 CDWQG are consistently applied across all 13 jurisdictions; five jurisdictions use voluntary guidelines, whereas eight use mandatory standards. The analysis explores three questions of central importance for water managers and public health officials: (i) should standards be uniform or variable; (ii) should compliance be voluntary or legally binding; and (iii) should regulation and oversight be harmonized or delegated? We conclude with recommendations for further research, with particular reference to the relevance of our findings given the high degree of variability in drinking water management and oversight capacity between urban and rural areas in Canada. Full article
Open AccessArticle Promoting Positive Psychology Using Social Networking Sites: A Study of New College Entrants on Facebook
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4652-4663; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504652
Received: 28 February 2014 / Revised: 10 April 2014 / Accepted: 18 April 2014 / Published: 29 April 2014
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Abstract
This study explores the potential of promoting college students’ positive psychological development using popular online social networks. Online social networks have dramatically changed the ways college students manage their social relationships. Social network activities, such as checking Facebook posts dominates students’ Internet [...] Read more.
This study explores the potential of promoting college students’ positive psychological development using popular online social networks. Online social networks have dramatically changed the ways college students manage their social relationships. Social network activities, such as checking Facebook posts dominates students’ Internet time and has the potential to assist students’ positive development. Positive psychology is a scientific study of how ordinary individuals can apply their strength effectively when facing objective difficulties and how this capability can be cultivated with certain approaches. A positive message delivery approach was designed for a group of new college entrants. A series of positive messages was edited by university counselors and delivered by students to their Facebook social groups. Responses from each posted positive messages were collected and analyzed by researchers. The responses indicated that: (1) relationships of individual engagement and social influence in this study can partially explain the observed student behavior; (2) using class-based social groups can promote a positive atmosphere to enhance strong-tie relationships in both the physical and virtual environments, and (3) promoting student’s positive attitudes can substantially impact adolescents’ future developments, and many positive attitudes can be cultivated by emotional events and social influence. Full article
Open AccessArticle Effects of Nutrition and Exercise Health Behaviors on Predicted Risk of Cardiovascular Disease among Workers with Different Body Mass Index Levels
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4664-4675; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504664
Received: 30 December 2013 / Revised: 31 March 2014 / Accepted: 21 April 2014 / Published: 29 April 2014
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Abstract
Workplace health promotion programs should be tailored according to individual needs and efficient intervention. This study aimed to determine the effects of nutrition and exercise health behaviors on predicted risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) when body mass index (BMI) is considered. In [...] Read more.
Workplace health promotion programs should be tailored according to individual needs and efficient intervention. This study aimed to determine the effects of nutrition and exercise health behaviors on predicted risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) when body mass index (BMI) is considered. In total, 3350 Taiwanese workers were included in this cross-sectional study. A self-reported questionnaire was used to measure their nutrition and exercise behaviors. Data on anthropometric values, biochemical blood determinations, and predicted CVD risk (using the Framingham risk score) were collected. In multiple regression analyses, the nutrition behavior score was independently and negatively associated with CVD risk. Exercise was not significantly associated with the risk. However, the interactive effect of exercise and BMI on CVD risk was evident. When stratified by BMI levels, associations between exercise and CVD risk were statistically significant for ideal weight and overweight subgroups. In conclusion, nutrition behavior plays an important role in predicting the CVD risk. Exercise behavior is also a significant predictor for ideal weight and overweight workers. Notably, for underweight or obese workers, maintaining health-promoting exercise seems insufficient to prevent the CVD. In order to improve workers’ cardiovascular health, more specific health-promoting strategies should be developed to suit the different BMI levels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Behavior and Public Health)
Open AccessArticle A Lightweight Web of Things Open Platform to Facilitate Context Data Management and Personalized Healthcare Services Creation
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4676-4713; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504676
Received: 26 February 2014 / Revised: 11 April 2014 / Accepted: 14 April 2014 / Published: 29 April 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1485 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the last few years, many health monitoring systems have been designed to fullfil the needs of a large range of scenarios. Although many of those systems provide good ad hoc solutions, most of them lack of mechanisms that allow them to [...] Read more.
In the last few years, many health monitoring systems have been designed to fullfil the needs of a large range of scenarios. Although many of those systems provide good ad hoc solutions, most of them lack of mechanisms that allow them to be easily reused. This paper is focused on describing an open platform, the micro Web of Things Open Platform (µWoTOP), which has been conceived to improve the connectivity and reusability of context data to deliver different kinds of health, wellness and ambient home care services. µWoTOP is based on a resource-oriented architecture which may be embedded in mobile and resource constrained devices enabling access to biometric, ambient or activity sensors and actuator resources through uniform interfaces defined according to a RESTful fashion. Additionally, µWoTOP manages two communication modes which allow delivering user context information according to different methods, depending on the requirements of the consumer application. It also generates alert messages based on standards related to health care and risk management, such as the Common Alerting Protocol, in order to make its outputs compatible with existing systems. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Lessons from Community Mental Health to Drive Implementation in Health Care Systems for People with Long-Term Conditions
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4714-4728; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504714
Received: 19 March 2014 / Revised: 8 April 2014 / Accepted: 11 April 2014 / Published: 30 April 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (227 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper aims to identify which lessons learned from the evidence and the experiences accruing from the transformation in mental health services in recent decades may have relevance for the future development of healthcare for people with long-term physical conditions. First, nine [...] Read more.
This paper aims to identify which lessons learned from the evidence and the experiences accruing from the transformation in mental health services in recent decades may have relevance for the future development of healthcare for people with long-term physical conditions. First, nine principles are discussed which we first identified to guide mental health service organisation, and all of which can be potentially applied to long term care as well (autonomy, continuity, effectiveness, accessibility, comprehensiveness, equity, accountability, co-ordination, and efficiency). Second, we have outlined innovative operational aspects of service user participation, many of which were first initiated and consolidated in the mental health field, and some of which are now also being implemented in long term care (including case management, and crisis plans). We conclude that long term conditions, whether mental or physical, deserve a long-term commitment from the relevant health services, and indeed where continuity and co-ordination are properly funded implemented, this can ensure that the symptomatic course is more stable, quality of life is enhanced, and the clinical outcomes are more favourable. Innovations such as self-management for long-term conditions (intended to promote autonomy and empowerment) need to be subjected to the same level of rigorous scientific scrutiny as any other treatment or service interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health Care)
Open AccessArticle Psychological Health and Life Experiences of Pregnant Adolescent Mothers in Jamaica
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4729-4744; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504729
Received: 3 February 2014 / Revised: 3 April 2014 / Accepted: 17 April 2014 / Published: 30 April 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (209 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A recent Jamaican school-based survey revealed that 23.1% of 13–15 year-olds, had attempted suicide one or more times during the last 12 months. Research that links adolescent pregnancy and suicidal behaviour is lacking in Jamaica. Psychological distress and suicidal behaviours amongst pregnant [...] Read more.
A recent Jamaican school-based survey revealed that 23.1% of 13–15 year-olds, had attempted suicide one or more times during the last 12 months. Research that links adolescent pregnancy and suicidal behaviour is lacking in Jamaica. Psychological distress and suicidal behaviours amongst pregnant adolescents elsewhere in the Americas has been documented at prevalence of between 13.3%–20%. The purpose of the study was to explore the experiences and the impact of pregnancy on pregnant adolescent psychological health. Individual interviews and focus groups were conducted with adolescents in two Jamaican antenatal clinics. One clinic was designed as a ‘Teen Pregnancy Clinic’ and the other used the standard antenatal clinic design. The following themes were identified: decision-making, resilience, social support, community support system, distress, and perceptions of service. Participants reported positively on the specific interventions tailored to their needs at the Teen Clinic. Although motherhood is valued, none of the pregnancies in this study were planned by the mother. Of the 30 adolescents interviewed, seven cases were referred for counseling due to their need for emotional and psychological support. One of the adolescents reported recent sexual violence and another reported having experienced childhood sexual abuse. Historically, Jamaican adolescent mothers faced barriers to education, self determination, and family planning. Empowering, adolescent-centred healthcare and comprehensive reproductive health education may mitigate psychosocial distress. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue IJERPH: 10th Anniversary)
Open AccessArticle The Impact of Parental Knowledge and Tanning Attitudes on Sun Protection Practice for Young Children in Germany
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4768-4781; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504768
Received: 27 February 2014 / Revised: 4 April 2014 / Accepted: 28 April 2014 / Published: 5 May 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (257 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Public health campaigns have improved knowledge on UVR-associated skin cancer risk and increased sun protection awareness. However, tanned skin is still a common beauty ideal. The relationship between knowledge, attitudes and protective behavior is not fully understood yet. A population-based survey was [...] Read more.
Public health campaigns have improved knowledge on UVR-associated skin cancer risk and increased sun protection awareness. However, tanned skin is still a common beauty ideal. The relationship between knowledge, attitudes and protective behavior is not fully understood yet. A population-based survey was thus performed in the district of Erlangen involving 2,619 parents of 3- to 6-year old children. By means of a self-administered standardized questionnaire parental knowledge about risk factors for skin cancer, their attitudes towards tanning and details of protective measures taken for their children were assessed. The study analyzed specifically the impact of parental tanning attitudes on sun-protective measures for their children while controlling for parental knowledge about skin cancer risk factors. While parental knowledge was significantly (inversely) associated with agreement to the statement “Tanned skin is healthy skin”, this was not the case for “Tanning makes me look better”. Overall, tanning affirmative attitudes were inversely associated with protective measures taken for the children, whereas parental knowledge had a positive impact on sun protection at the beach only. Multivariable analyses provided evidence for an effect of parental attitude on protective behavior independent of parental knowledge. Tanning attitudes and tanned skin as the misguided ideal of beauty need to be addressed in future public health campaigns to enhance the effectiveness of preventive activities in changing sun protective behavior. Full article
Open AccessArticle Facilitators and Barriers to Effective Smoking Cessation: Counselling Services for Inpatients from Nurse-Counsellors’ Perspectives — A Qualitative Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4782-4798; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504782
Received: 22 January 2014 / Revised: 29 April 2014 / Accepted: 29 April 2014 / Published: 6 May 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (191 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Tobacco use has reached epidemic levels around the World, resulting in a world-wide increase in tobacco-related deaths and disabilities. Hospitalization presents an opportunity for nurses to encourage inpatients to quit smoking. This qualitative descriptive study was aimed to explore nurse-counsellors’ perspectives of [...] Read more.
Tobacco use has reached epidemic levels around the World, resulting in a world-wide increase in tobacco-related deaths and disabilities. Hospitalization presents an opportunity for nurses to encourage inpatients to quit smoking. This qualitative descriptive study was aimed to explore nurse-counsellors’ perspectives of facilitators and barriers in the implementation of effective smoking cessation counselling services for inpatients. In-depth interviews were conducted with 16 nurses who were qualified smoking cessation counsellors and who were recruited from eleven health promotion hospitals that were smoke-free and located in the Greater Taipei City Area.  Data were collected from May 2012 to October 2012, and then analysed using content analysis based on the grounded theory approach. From nurse-counsellors’ perspectives, an effective smoking cessation program should be patient-centred and provide a supportive environment. Another finding is that effective smoking cessation counselling involves encouraging patients to modify their lifestyles. Time constraints and inadequate resources are barriers that inhibit the effectiveness of smoking cessation counselling programs in acute-care hospitals. We suggest that hospitals should set up a smoking counselling follow-up program, including funds, facilities, and trained personnel to deliver counselling services by telephone, and build a network with community smoking cessation resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Substance and Drug Abuse Prevention)
Open AccessArticle Spatio-Temporal Variation and Prediction of Ischemic Heart Disease Hospitalizations in Shenzhen, China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4799-4824; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504799
Received: 11 March 2014 / Revised: 28 April 2014 / Accepted: 29 April 2014 / Published: 6 May 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2210 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Ischemic heart disease (IHD) is a leading cause of death worldwide. Urban public health and medical management in Shenzhen, an international city in the developing country of China, is challenged by an increasing burden of IHD. This study analyzed the spatio-temporal variation [...] Read more.
Ischemic heart disease (IHD) is a leading cause of death worldwide. Urban public health and medical management in Shenzhen, an international city in the developing country of China, is challenged by an increasing burden of IHD. This study analyzed the spatio-temporal variation of IHD hospital admissions from 2003 to 2012 utilizing spatial statistics, spatial analysis, and space-time scan statistics. The spatial statistics and spatial analysis measured the incidence rate (hospital admissions per 1,000 residents) and the standardized rate (the observed cases standardized by the expected cases) of IHD at the district level to determine the spatio-temporal distribution and identify patterns of change. The space-time scan statistics was used to identify spatio-temporal clusters of IHD hospital admissions at the district level. The other objective of this study was to forecast the IHD hospital admissions over the next three years (2013–2015) to predict the IHD incidence rates and the varying burdens of IHD-related medical services among the districts in Shenzhen. The results show that the highest hospital admissions, incidence rates, and standardized rates of IHD are in Futian. From 2003 to 2012, the IHD hospital admissions exhibited similar mean centers and directional distributions, with a slight increase in admissions toward the north in accordance with the movement of the total population. The incidence rates of IHD exhibited a gradual increase from 2003 to 2012 for all districts in Shenzhen, which may be the result of the rapid development of the economy and the increasing traffic pollution. In addition, some neighboring areas exhibited similar temporal change patterns, which were also detected by the spatio-temporal cluster analysis. Futian and Dapeng would have the highest and the lowest hospital admissions, respectively, although these districts have the highest incidence rates among all of the districts from 2013 to 2015 based on the prediction using the GM (1,1). In addition, the combined analysis of the prediction of IHD hospital admissions and the general hospital distributions shows that Pingshan and Longgang might experience the most serious burden of IHD hospital services in the near future, although Futian would still have the greatest number and the highest incidence rate of hospital admissions for IHD. Full article
Open AccessArticle Surveillance of Social and Geographic Inequalities in Housing-Related Issues: The Case of the Eastern Townships, Quebec (Canada)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4825-4844; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504825
Received: 21 February 2014 / Revised: 25 April 2014 / Accepted: 28 April 2014 / Published: 6 May 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (348 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Even though health inequalities are conditioned by many aspects of the environment, much of the existing research focuses on the social environment. This emphasis has the effect to neglect other environmental aspects such as its physical dimension. The physical environment, which is [...] Read more.
Even though health inequalities are conditioned by many aspects of the environment, much of the existing research focuses on the social environment. This emphasis has the effect to neglect other environmental aspects such as its physical dimension. The physical environment, which is linked to housing conditions, may contribute to the uneven distribution of health. In this study, we examined 19 housing-related issues among a representative sample of 2,000 adults residing in a Quebec (Canada) health region characterized by a mix of rural, semi-rural, and urban areas. The distribution of these issues was examined according to socioeconomic and geographic indicators of social position. Summary measures of inequalities were assessed. Our results showed that the prevalence of nearly all housing-related issues was higher among low-income households compared to more affluent ones. Highly educated individuals showed better housing conditions, whereas different issues tended to cluster in deprived or densely populated areas. To conclude, we observed steep gradients between social class and poor housing conditions. This may explain a substantial part of health inequality on the regional scale. The surveillance of housing-related issues is therefore essential to properly inform and mobilize local stakeholders and to develop interventions that target vulnerable groups on this level. Full article
Open AccessArticle A GIS Based Approach for Assessing the Association between Air Pollution and Asthma in New York State, USA
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4845-4869; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504845
Received: 9 January 2014 / Revised: 29 April 2014 / Accepted: 30 April 2014 / Published: 6 May 2014
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (1872 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Studies on asthma have shown that air pollution can lead to increased asthma prevalence. The aim of this study is to examine the association between air pollution (fine particulate matter (PM2.5), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and ozone (O3 [...] Read more.
Studies on asthma have shown that air pollution can lead to increased asthma prevalence. The aim of this study is to examine the association between air pollution (fine particulate matter (PM2.5), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and ozone (O3)) and human health (asthma emergency department visit rate (AEVR) and asthma discharge rate (ADR)) among residents of New York, USA during the period 2005 to 2007. Annual rates of asthma were calculated from population estimates for 2005, 2006, and 2007 and number of asthma hospital discharge and emergency department visits. Population data for New York were taken from US Bureau of Census, and asthma data were obtained from New York State Department of Health, National Asthma Survey surveillance report. Data on the concentrations of PM2.5, SO2 and ground level ozone were obtained from various air quality monitoring stations distributed in different counties. Annual means of these concentrations were compared to annual variations in asthma prevalence by using Pearson correlation coefficient. We found different associations between the annual mean concentration of PM2.5, SO2 and surface ozone and the annual rates of asthma discharge and asthma emergency visit from 2005 to 2007. A positive correlation coefficient was observed between the annual mean concentration of PM2.5, and SO2 and the annual rates of asthma discharge and asthma emergency department visit from 2005 to 2007. However, the correlation coefficient between annual mean concentrations of ground ozone and the annual rates of asthma discharge and asthma emergency visit was found to be negative from 2005 to 2007. Our study suggests that the association between elevated concentrations of PM2.5 and SO2 and asthma prevalence among residents of New York State in USA is consistent enough to assume concretely a plausible and significant association. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue IJERPH: 10th Anniversary)
Open AccessArticle Hematological and Biochemical Data Obtained in Rural Northern Uganda
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4870-4885; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504870
Received: 26 February 2014 / Revised: 21 April 2014 / Accepted: 30 April 2014 / Published: 6 May 2014
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Abstract
Reference intervals for common hematological and clinical chemistry parameters constitute an important basis for health care. Moreover, with increasing priority in drug and vaccine development for infectious diseases in Africa, the first priority is the safety evaluation and tolerability of the candidate [...] Read more.
Reference intervals for common hematological and clinical chemistry parameters constitute an important basis for health care. Moreover, with increasing priority in drug and vaccine development for infectious diseases in Africa, the first priority is the safety evaluation and tolerability of the candidate interventions in healthy populations. To accurately assess health status and address adverse events, clinical reference intervals in the target population are necessary. We report on hematological and biochemical indices from healthy volunteers who participated in a clinical trial in Lira, northern Uganda. Median and nonparametric 95% percentiles on five hematology and 15 biochemistry analytes are shown. Although most hematological analytes conformed to reported reference intervals and trends in Africa, literature review from different African countries highlight the need for a region-specific children reference interval that can be appropriate for the population. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Combination of a Fast Cleanup Procedure and a DR-CALUX® Bioassay for Dioxin Surveillance in Taiwanese Soils
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4886-4904; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504886
Received: 14 March 2014 / Revised: 25 April 2014 / Accepted: 28 April 2014 / Published: 6 May 2014
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Abstract
Our goal was to determine dioxin levels in 800 soil samples collected from Taiwan. An in vitro DR-CALUX® assay was carried out with the help of an automated Soxhlet system and fast cleanup column. The mean dioxin level of 800 soil [...] Read more.
Our goal was to determine dioxin levels in 800 soil samples collected from Taiwan. An in vitro DR-CALUX® assay was carried out with the help of an automated Soxhlet system and fast cleanup column. The mean dioxin level of 800 soil samples was 36.0 pg-bioanalytical equivalents (BEQs)/g dry weight (d.w.). Soil dioxin-BEQs were higher in northern Taiwan (61.8 pg-BEQ/g d.w.) than in central, southern, and eastern Taiwan (22.2, 24.9, and 7.80 pg-BEQ/g d.w., respectively). Analysis of multiple linear regression models identified four major predictors of dioxin-BEQs including soil sampling location (β = 0.097, p < 0.001), land use (β = 0.065, p < 0.001), soil brightness (β = 0.170, p < 0.001), and soil moisture (β = 0.051, p = 0.020), with adjusted R2 = 0.947 (p < 0.001) (n = 662). An univariate logistic regression analysis with the cut-off point of 33.4 pg-BEQ/g d.w. showed significant odds ratios (ORs) for soil sampling location (OR = 2.43, p < 0.001), land use (OR = 1.47, p < 0.001), and soil brightness (OR = 2.83, p = 0.009). In conclusion, four variables, including soil sampling location, land use, soil brightness, and soil moisture, may be related to soil-dioxin contamination. Soil samples collected in northern Taiwan, and especially in Bade City, soils near industrial areas, and soils with darker color may contain higher dioxin-BEQ levels. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Integrating Social Capital Theory, Social Cognitive Theory, and the Technology Acceptance Model to Explore a Behavioral Model of Telehealth Systems
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4905-4925; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504905
Received: 27 February 2014 / Revised: 21 April 2014 / Accepted: 29 April 2014 / Published: 7 May 2014
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Abstract
Telehealth has become an increasingly applied solution to delivering health care to rural and underserved areas by remote health care professionals. This study integrated social capital theory, social cognitive theory, and the technology acceptance model (TAM) to develop a comprehensive behavioral model [...] Read more.
Telehealth has become an increasingly applied solution to delivering health care to rural and underserved areas by remote health care professionals. This study integrated social capital theory, social cognitive theory, and the technology acceptance model (TAM) to develop a comprehensive behavioral model for analyzing the relationships among social capital factors (social capital theory), technological factors (TAM), and system self-efficacy (social cognitive theory) in telehealth. The proposed framework was validated with 365 respondents from Nantou County, located in Central Taiwan. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to assess the causal relationships that were hypothesized in the proposed model. The finding indicates that elderly residents generally reported positive perceptions toward the telehealth system. Generally, the findings show that social capital factors (social trust, institutional trust, and social participation) significantly positively affect the technological factors (perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness respectively), which influenced usage intention. This study also confirmed that system self-efficacy was the salient antecedent of perceived ease of use. In addition, regarding the samples, the proposed model fitted considerably well. The proposed integrative psychosocial-technological model may serve as a theoretical basis for future research and can also offer empirical foresight to practitioners and researchers in the health departments of governments, hospitals, and rural communities. Full article
Open AccessArticle Health Utilities of Type 2 Diabetes-Related Complications: A Cross-Sectional Study in Sweden
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4939-4952; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504939
Received: 24 February 2014 / Revised: 1 April 2014 / Accepted: 4 May 2014 / Published: 7 May 2014
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (194 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This study estimates health utilities (HU) in Sweden for a range of type 2 diabetes-related complications using EQ-5D and two alternative tariffs (UK and Swedish) from 1757 patients with type 2 diabetes from the Swedish National Diabetes Register (NDR). Ordinary least squares [...] Read more.
This study estimates health utilities (HU) in Sweden for a range of type 2 diabetes-related complications using EQ-5D and two alternative tariffs (UK and Swedish) from 1757 patients with type 2 diabetes from the Swedish National Diabetes Register (NDR). Ordinary least squares were used for statistical analysis. Lower HU was found for female gender, younger age at diagnosis, higher BMI, and history of complications. Microvascular and macrovascular complications had the most negative effect on HU among women and men, respectively. The greatest decline in HU was associated with kidney disorders (−0.114) using the UK tariff and stroke (−0.059) using the Swedish tariff. Multiple stroke and non-acute ischaemic heart disease had higher negative effect than a single event. With the UK tariff, each year elapsed since the last microvascular/macrovascular complication was associated with 0.013 and 0.007 units higher HU, respectively. We found important heterogeneities in effects of complications on HU in terms of gender, multiple event, and time. The Swedish tariff gave smaller estimates and so may result in less cost-effective interventions than the UK tariff. These results suggest that incorporating subgroup-specific HU in cost-utility analyses might provide more insight for informed decision-making. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diabetes Prevention: Challenges and Opportunities)
Open AccessArticle Development of a Recombinase Polymerase Amplification Assay for the Detection of Pathogenic Leptospira
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4953-4964; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504953
Received: 21 February 2014 / Revised: 8 April 2014 / Accepted: 30 April 2014 / Published: 8 May 2014
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (267 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Detection of leptospires based on DNA amplification techniques is essential for the early diagnosis of leptospirosis when anti-Leptospira antibodies are below the detection limit of most serological tests. In middle and low income countries where leptospirosis is endemic, routine implementation of [...] Read more.
Detection of leptospires based on DNA amplification techniques is essential for the early diagnosis of leptospirosis when anti-Leptospira antibodies are below the detection limit of most serological tests. In middle and low income countries where leptospirosis is endemic, routine implementation of real-time PCR is financially and technically challenging due to the requirement of expensive thermocycler equipment. In this study we report the development and evaluation of a novel isothermal recombinase polymerase amplification assay (RPA) for detection of pathogenic Leptospira based on TwistAmp chemistry. RPA enabled the detection of less than two genome copies per reaction. Retrospective evaluation revealed a high diagnostic accuracy (sensitivity and specificity of 94.7% and 97.7%, respectively) compared to culturing as the reference standard. RPA presents a powerful tool for the early diagnosis of leptospirosis in humans and in animals. Furthermore, it enables the detection of the causative agent in reservoirs and environment, and as such is a valuable adjunct to current tools for surveillance and early outbreak warning. Full article
Open AccessArticle Effect of Smoking Abstinence and Reduction in Asthmatic Smokers Switching to Electronic Cigarettes: Evidence for Harm Reversal
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4965-4977; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504965
Received: 3 April 2014 / Revised: 24 April 2014 / Accepted: 30 April 2014 / Published: 8 May 2014
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Abstract
Electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) are marketed as safer alternatives to tobacco cigarettes and have shown to reduce their consumption. Here we report for the first time the effects of e-cigs on subjective and objective asthma parameters as well as tolerability in asthmatic smokers [...] Read more.
Electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) are marketed as safer alternatives to tobacco cigarettes and have shown to reduce their consumption. Here we report for the first time the effects of e-cigs on subjective and objective asthma parameters as well as tolerability in asthmatic smokers who quit or reduced their tobacco consumption by switching to these products. We retrospectively reviewed changes in spirometry data, airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR), asthma exacerbations and subjective asthma control in smoking asthmatics who switched to regular e-cig use. Measurements were taken prior to switching (baseline) and at two consecutive visits (Follow-up/1 at 6 (±1) and Follow-up/2 at 12 (±2) months). Eighteen smoking asthmatics (10 single users, eight dual users) were identified. Overall there were significant improvements in spirometry data, asthma control and AHR. These positive outcomes were noted in single and dual users. Reduction in exacerbation rates was reported, but was not significant. No severe adverse events were noted. This small retrospective study indicates that regular use of e-cigs to substitute smoking is associated with objective and subjective improvements in asthma outcomes. Considering that e-cig use is reportedly less harmful than conventional smoking and can lead to reduced cigarette consumption with subsequent improvements in asthma outcomes, this study shows that e-cigs can be a valid option for asthmatic patients who cannot quit smoking by other methods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Electronic Cigarettes as a Tool in Tobacco Harm Reduction)
Open AccessArticle Requiring Pollutant Discharge Permits for Pesticide Applications that Deposit Residues in Surface Waters
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4978-4990; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504978
Received: 3 March 2014 / Revised: 21 April 2014 / Accepted: 4 May 2014 / Published: 8 May 2014
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Abstract
Agricultural producers and public health authorities apply pesticides to control pests that damage crops and carry diseases. Due to the toxic nature of most pesticides, they are regulated by governments. Regulatory provisions require pesticides to be registered and restrictions operate to safeguard [...] Read more.
Agricultural producers and public health authorities apply pesticides to control pests that damage crops and carry diseases. Due to the toxic nature of most pesticides, they are regulated by governments. Regulatory provisions require pesticides to be registered and restrictions operate to safeguard human health and the environment. Yet pesticides used near surface waters pose dangers to non-target species and drinking water supplies leading some governments to regulate discharges of pesticides under pollution discharge permits. The dual registration and discharge permitting provisions are burdensome. In the United States, agricultural interest groups are advancing new legislation that would exempt pesticide residues from water permitting requirements. An analysis of the dangers posed by pesticide residues in drinking water leads to a conclusion that both pesticide registration and pollutant discharge permitting provisions are needed to protect human health and aquatic species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue IJERPH: 10th Anniversary)
Open AccessArticle Mental and Behavioral Disorders Due to Substance Abuse and Perinatal Outcomes: A Study Based on Linked Population Data in New South Wales, Australia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4991-5005; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504991
Received: 30 January 2014 / Revised: 4 May 2014 / Accepted: 5 May 2014 / Published: 8 May 2014
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Abstract
Background: The effects of mental and behavioral disorders (MBD) due to substance use during peri-conception and pregnancy on perinatal outcomes are unclear. The adverse perinatal outcomes of primiparous mothers admitted to hospital with MBD due to substance use before and/or during pregnancy [...] Read more.
Background: The effects of mental and behavioral disorders (MBD) due to substance use during peri-conception and pregnancy on perinatal outcomes are unclear. The adverse perinatal outcomes of primiparous mothers admitted to hospital with MBD due to substance use before and/or during pregnancy were investigated. Method: This study linked birth and hospital records in NSW, Australia. Subjects included primiparous mothers admitted to hospital for MBD due to use of alcohol, opioids or cannabinoids during peri-conception and pregnancy. Results: There were 304 primiparous mothers admitted to hospital for MBD due to alcohol use (MBDA), 306 for MBD due to opioids use (MBDO) and 497 for MBD due to cannabinoids (MBDC) between the 12 months peri-conception and the end of pregnancy. Primiparous mothers admitted to hospital for MBDA during pregnancy or during both peri-conception and pregnancy were significantly more likely to give birth to a baby of low birthweight (AOR = 4.03, 95%CI: 1.97–8.24 for pregnancy; AOR = 9.21, 95%CI: 3.76–22.57 both periods); preterm birth (AOR = 3.26, 95% CI: 1.52–6.97 for pregnancy; AOR = 4.06, 95%CI: 1.50–11.01 both periods) and admission to SCN or NICU (AOR = 2.42, 95%CI: 1.31–4.49 for pregnancy; AOR = 4.03, 95%CI: 1.72–9.44 both periods). Primiparous mothers admitted to hospital for MBDO, MBDC or a combined diagnosis were almost three times as likely to give birth to preterm babies compared to mothers without hospital admissions for psychiatric or substance use disorders. Babies whose mothers were admitted to hospital with MBDO before and/or during pregnancy were six times more likely to be admitted to SCN or NICU (AOR = 6.29, 95%CI: 4.62–8.57). Conclusion: Consumption of alcohol, opioids or cannabinoids during peri-conception or pregnancy significantly increased the risk of adverse perinatal outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health Care)
Open AccessArticle Di-Ethylhexylphthalate (DEHP) Modulates Cell Invasion, Migration and Anchorage Independent Growth through Targeting S100P in LN-229 Glioblastoma Cells
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5006-5019; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505006
Received: 1 February 2014 / Revised: 29 April 2014 / Accepted: 30 April 2014 / Published: 9 May 2014
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Abstract
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most aggressive brain cancer with a median survival of 1–2 years. The treatment of GBM includes surgical resection, radiation and chemotherapy, which minimally extends survival. This poor prognosis necessitates the identification of novel molecular targets associated with [...] Read more.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most aggressive brain cancer with a median survival of 1–2 years. The treatment of GBM includes surgical resection, radiation and chemotherapy, which minimally extends survival. This poor prognosis necessitates the identification of novel molecular targets associated with glioblastoma. S100P is associated with drug resistance, metastasis, and poor clinical outcomes in many malignancies. The functional role of S100P in glioblastoma has not been fully investigated. In this study, we examined the role of S100P mediating the effects of the environmental contaminant, DEHP, in glioblastoma cells (LN-229) by assessing cell proliferation, apoptosis, anchorage independent growth, cell migration and invasion following DEHP exposure. Silencing S100P and DEHP treatment inhibited LN-229 glioblastoma cell proliferation and induced apoptosis. Anchorage independent growth study revealed significantly decreased colony formation in shS100P cells. We also observed reduced cell migration in cells treated with DEHP following S100P knockdown. Similar results were observed in spheroid formation and expansion. This study is the first to demonstrate the effects of DEHP on glioblastoma cells, and implicates S100P as a potential therapeutic target that may be useful as a drug response biomarker. Full article
Open AccessArticle Simulation of Population-Based Commuter Exposure to NO2 Using Different Air Pollution Models
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5049-5068; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505049
Received: 11 February 2014 / Revised: 12 April 2014 / Accepted: 29 April 2014 / Published: 12 May 2014
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Abstract
We simulated commuter routes and long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution during commute in a representative population sample in Basel (Switzerland), and evaluated three air pollution models with different spatial resolution for estimating commute exposures to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) as [...] Read more.
We simulated commuter routes and long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution during commute in a representative population sample in Basel (Switzerland), and evaluated three air pollution models with different spatial resolution for estimating commute exposures to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) as a marker of long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution. Our approach includes spatially and temporally resolved data on actual commuter routes, travel modes and three air pollution models. Annual mean NO2 commuter exposures were similar between models. However, we found more within-city and within-subject variability in annual mean (±SD) NO2 commuter exposure with a high resolution dispersion model (40 ± 7 µg m−3, range: 21–61) than with a dispersion model with a lower resolution (39 ± 5 µg m−3; range: 24–51), and a land use regression model (41 ± 5 µg m−3; range: 24–54). Highest median cumulative exposures were calculated along motorized transport and bicycle routes, and the lowest for walking. For estimating commuter exposure within a city and being interested also in small-scale variability between roads, a model with a high resolution is recommended. For larger scale epidemiological health assessment studies, models with a coarser spatial resolution are likely sufficient, especially when study areas include suburban and rural areas. Full article
Open AccessArticle Improving Protocol Design Feasibility to Drive Drug Development Economics and Performance
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5069-5080; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505069
Received: 20 February 2014 / Revised: 29 April 2014 / Accepted: 30 April 2014 / Published: 12 May 2014
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Abstract
Protocol design complexity has increased substantially during the past decade and this in turn has adversely impacted drug development economics and performance. This article reviews the results of two major Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development studies quantifying the direct [...] Read more.
Protocol design complexity has increased substantially during the past decade and this in turn has adversely impacted drug development economics and performance. This article reviews the results of two major Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development studies quantifying the direct cost of conducting less essential and unnecessary protocol procedures and of implementing amendments to protocol designs. Indirect costs including personnel time, work load and cycle time delays associated with complex protocol designs are also discussed. The author concludes with an overview of steps that research sponsors are taking to improve protocol design feasibility. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Economics of New Drug Development and Approval)
Open AccessArticle The Effects of Fine Particulate Air Pollution on Daily Mortality: A Case-Crossover Study in a Subtropical City, Taipei, Taiwan
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5081-5093; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505081
Received: 12 February 2014 / Revised: 5 May 2014 / Accepted: 5 May 2014 / Published: 12 May 2014
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Abstract
This study was undertaken to determine whether there was an association between PM2.5 levels and daily mortality in Taipei, Taiwan, the largest metropolitan city with a subtropical climate. Daily mortality, air pollution, and weather data for Taipei were obtained for the [...] Read more.
This study was undertaken to determine whether there was an association between PM2.5 levels and daily mortality in Taipei, Taiwan, the largest metropolitan city with a subtropical climate. Daily mortality, air pollution, and weather data for Taipei were obtained for the period from 2006–2008. The relative risk of daily mortality was estimated using a time-stratified case-crossover approach, controlling for weather variables, day of the week, seasonality, and long-term time trends. For the single pollutant model, PM2.5 showed association with total mortality both on warm (>23 °C) and cool days (<23 °C). There is no indication of an association between PM2.5 and risk of death due to respiratory diseases both on warm and cool days. PM2.5 had effects on the risk of death from cardiovascular diseases only on cool days. In the two-pollutant models, PM2.5 remained effects on the risk of mortality for all cause and cardiovascular disease after the inclusion of SO2 and O3 both on warm and cool days. This study provides evidence that short-term exposure to PM2.5 increased the risk of death for all cause and cardiovascular disease. Full article
Open AccessArticle Evaluation of the Impact of Low Emission Zone and Heavy Traffic Ban in Munich (Germany) on the Reduction of PM10 in Ambient Air
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5094-5112; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505094
Received: 31 March 2014 / Revised: 5 May 2014 / Accepted: 5 May 2014 / Published: 13 May 2014
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (896 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Concentrations of ambient fine particles (PM10: particles with an aerodynamic diameter ≤ 10 µm) are still exceeding current air quality standards in many European cities. In Munich (Germany), low emission zone and transit bans for heavy-duty vehicles were introduced in [...] Read more.
Concentrations of ambient fine particles (PM10: particles with an aerodynamic diameter ≤ 10 µm) are still exceeding current air quality standards in many European cities. In Munich (Germany), low emission zone and transit bans for heavy-duty vehicles were introduced in 2008 aiming at reduction of traffic emissions contribution to PM10. The effects of those measures on PM10 mass concentrations in Munich were investigated with a semiparametric regression model for modeling PM10 levels adjusted for time, background pollution, public holidays and wind direction. The reduction of PM10 concentration after the introduction of the measures was larger at a traffic monitoring site (13.0 %, 19.6 % in summer, and 6.8 % in winter) and smaller in urban background (4.5 %, 5.7 % in summer, and 3.2 % in winter). The effect was most pronounced on Fridays and on the weekends in summer. Full article
Open AccessArticle Does the Absence of a Supportive Family Environment Influence the Outcome of a Universal Intervention for the Prevention of Depression?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5113-5132; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505113
Received: 21 November 2013 / Revised: 30 April 2014 / Accepted: 5 May 2014 / Published: 13 May 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (277 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
To date, universal, school-based interventions have produced limited success in the long-term prevention of depression in young people. This paper examines whether family relationship support moderates the outcomes of a universal, school-based preventive intervention for depression in adolescents. It reports a secondary [...] Read more.
To date, universal, school-based interventions have produced limited success in the long-term prevention of depression in young people. This paper examines whether family relationship support moderates the outcomes of a universal, school-based preventive intervention for depression in adolescents. It reports a secondary analysis of data from the beyondblue schools research initiative. Twenty-five matched pairs of secondary schools were randomly assigned to an intervention or control condition (N = 5633 Grade 8 students). The multi-component, school-based intervention was implemented over a 3-year period, with 2 years of follow-up in Grades 11 and 12. For those available at follow-up, small but significantly greater reductions in depressive and anxiety symptoms and improvements in emotional wellbeing were found over time for the intervention group compared to the control among those who experienced low family relationship support in Grade 8. For those who did not experience low family relationship support in Grade 8, no significant effects of the invention were found over the control condition. This pattern of results was also found for the intent-to-treat sample for measures of depression and anxiety. Previous research may have overlooked important moderating variables that influence the outcome of universal approaches to the prevention of depression. The findings raise issues of the relative costs and benefits of universal versus targeted approaches to the prevention of depression. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Adolescent Depression Prevention)
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Open AccessArticle Community Knowledge and Acceptance of Larviciding for Malaria Control in a Rural District of East-Central Tanzania
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5137-5154; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505137
Received: 13 March 2014 / Revised: 7 May 2014 / Accepted: 7 May 2014 / Published: 14 May 2014
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Abstract
The use of microbial larvicides, a form of larval source management, is a less commonly used malaria control intervention that nonetheless has significant potential as a component of an integrated vector management strategy. We evaluated community acceptability of larviciding in a rural [...] Read more.
The use of microbial larvicides, a form of larval source management, is a less commonly used malaria control intervention that nonetheless has significant potential as a component of an integrated vector management strategy. We evaluated community acceptability of larviciding in a rural district in east-central Tanzania using data from 962 household surveys, 12 focus group discussions, and 24 in-depth interviews. Most survey respondents trusted in the safety (73.1%) and efficacy of larviciding, both with regards to mosquito control (92.3%) and to reduce malaria infection risk (91.9%). Probing these perceptions using a Likert scale provides a more detailed picture. Focus group participants and key informants were also receptive to larviciding, but stressed the importance of sensitization before its implementation. Overall, 73.4% of survey respondents expressed a willingness to make a nominal household contribution to a larviciding program, a proportion which decreased as the proposed contribution increased. The lower-bound mean willingness to pay is estimated at 2,934 Tanzanian Shillings (approximately US$1.76) per three month period. We present a multivariate probit regression analysis examining factors associated with willingness to pay. Overall, our findings point to a receptive environment in a rural setting in Tanzania for the use of microbial larvicides in malaria control. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Epidemiology, Prevention and Control of Malaria)
Open AccessArticle Spatio-Temporal Distribution Patterns in Environmental Factors, Chlorophyll-a and Microcystins in a Large Shallow Lake, Lake Taihu, China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5155-5169; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505155
Received: 12 March 2014 / Revised: 4 May 2014 / Accepted: 5 May 2014 / Published: 14 May 2014
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Abstract
The spatio-temporal distribution of environmental factors, chlorophyll-a (Chl-a), and microcystins (MCs) in a shallow lake, Lake Taihu (China), were investigated from 2009 to 2011 on a monthly basis at nine sampling stations. The annual mean concentration ranges of total nitrogen (TN), total [...] Read more.
The spatio-temporal distribution of environmental factors, chlorophyll-a (Chl-a), and microcystins (MCs) in a shallow lake, Lake Taihu (China), were investigated from 2009 to 2011 on a monthly basis at nine sampling stations. The annual mean concentration ranges of total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP), Chl-a, MC-LR and MC-RR were 0.17–10.53 mg/L, 0.027–0.581 mg/L, 0.10–129.75 µg/L, 0.013–2.019 µg/L and 0.002–0.794 µg/L, respectively. The average TN, ammonium (NH4+) and TP concentrations in Meiliang Bay decreased from 3.54 to 2.26 mg/L, 0.63 to 0.31 mg/L and 0.150 to 0.124 mg/L, respectively, when compared with values from 2006–2008, indicating that water quality has improved in severe cyanobacterial bloom areas in recent years. Additionally, the distribution of MCs was northern lake areas > western lake areas > central lake areas > macrophyte-dominated areas. Correlation analysis revealed that nutrients were the most important variable accounting for the variation of extracellular MC-LR concentration in heavy cyanobacterial bloom areas of Lake Taihu. During the study period, the maximum MCs concentration reached 2.75 ± 0.27 μg/L in the bloom period in the northern lake areas, which is more than two times the safety limit of 1 μg/L MCs required for drinking water. However, microcystins decreased gradually as the water quality improved from 2009 to 2011, indicating that the risk of MCs exposure was slightly decreased in Lake Taihu. Full article
Open AccessArticle Specific Association of Teratogen and Toxicant Metals in Hair of Newborns with Congenital Birth Defects or Developmentally Premature Birth in a Cohort of Couples with Documented Parental Exposure to Military Attacks: Observational Study at Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza, Palestine
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5208-5223; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505208
Received: 24 February 2014 / Revised: 25 April 2014 / Accepted: 4 May 2014 / Published: 14 May 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (707 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study was undertaken in Gaza, Palestine, in a cohort of babies born in 2011. Hair samples of newborns were analyzed for metal load by DRC-ICP-MS. We report specific level of contamination by teratogen/toxicants metals of newborn babies, environmentally unexposed, according to [...] Read more.
This study was undertaken in Gaza, Palestine, in a cohort of babies born in 2011. Hair samples of newborns were analyzed for metal load by DRC-ICP-MS. We report specific level of contamination by teratogen/toxicants metals of newborn babies, environmentally unexposed, according to their phenotypes at birth: normal full term babies, birth defects or developmentally premature. The occurrence of birth defects was previously shown to be correlated in this cohort to documented exposure of parents to weapons containing metal contaminants, during attacks in 2009. We detect, in significantly higher amounts than in normal babies, different specific teratogen or toxicant elements, known weapons’ components, characteristic for each of birth defect or premature babies. This is the first attempt to our knowledge to directly link a phenotype at birth with the in utero presence of specific teratogen and/or toxicant metals in a cohort with known episodes of acute exposure of parents to environmental contamination by these same metals, in this case delivered by weaponry The babies were conceived 20–25 months after the major known parental exposure; the specific link of newborn phenotypes to war-remnant metal contaminants, suggests that mothers’ contamination persists in time, and that the exposure may have a long term effect. Full article
Open AccessArticle Assessment of the Health Impacts of Climate Change in Kiribati
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5224-5240; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505224
Received: 14 February 2014 / Revised: 5 May 2014 / Accepted: 5 May 2014 / Published: 14 May 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (588 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Kiribati—a low-lying, resource-poor Pacific atoll nation—is one of the most vulnerable countries in the World to the impacts of climate change, including the likely detrimental effects on human health. We describe the preparation of a climate change and health adaptation plan for [...] Read more.
Kiribati—a low-lying, resource-poor Pacific atoll nation—is one of the most vulnerable countries in the World to the impacts of climate change, including the likely detrimental effects on human health. We describe the preparation of a climate change and health adaptation plan for Kiribati carried out by the World Health Organization and the Kiribati Ministry of Health and Medical Services, including an assessment of risks to health, sources of vulnerability and suggestions for highest priority adaptation responses. This paper identifies advantages and disadvantages in the process that was followed, lays out a future direction of climate change and health adaptation work in Kiribati, and proposes lessons that may be applicable to other small, developing island nations as they prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change on health. Full article
Open AccessArticle Particulate Matter Pollution and Population Exposure Assessment over Mainland China in 2010 with Remote Sensing
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5241-5250; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505241
Received: 13 March 2014 / Revised: 7 May 2014 / Accepted: 8 May 2014 / Published: 14 May 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1618 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The public is increasingly concerned about particulate matter pollution caused by respirable suspended particles (PM10) and fine particles (PM2.5). In this paper, PM10 and PM2.5 concentration are estimated with remote sensing and individual air quality indexes [...] Read more.
The public is increasingly concerned about particulate matter pollution caused by respirable suspended particles (PM10) and fine particles (PM2.5). In this paper, PM10 and PM2.5 concentration are estimated with remote sensing and individual air quality indexes of PM10 and PM2.5 (IPM10 and IPM2.5) over mainland China in 2010 are calculated. We find that China suffered more serious PM2.5 than PM10 pollution in 2010, and they presented a spatial differentiation. Consequently, a particulate-based air quality index (PAQI) based on a weighting method is proposed to provide a more objective assessment of the particulate pollution. The study demonstrates that, in 2010, most of mainland China faced a lightly polluted situation in PAQI case; there were three areas obviously under moderate pollution (Hubei, Sichuan-Chongqing border region and Ningxia-Inner Mongolia border region). Simultaneously, two indicators are calculated with the combination of population density gridded data to reveal Chinese population exposure to PM2.5. Comparing per capita PM2.5 concentration with population-weighted PM2.5 concentration, the former shows that the high-level regions are distributed in Guangdong, Shanghai, and Tianjin, while the latter are in Hebei, Chongqing, and Shandong. By comparison, the results demonstrate that population-weighted PM2.5 concentration is more in line with the actual situation. Full article
Open AccessArticle Monitoring the Presence of 13 Active Compounds in Surface Water Collected from Rural Areas in Northwestern Spain
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5251-5272; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505251
Received: 10 February 2014 / Revised: 16 April 2014 / Accepted: 8 May 2014 / Published: 15 May 2014
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Abstract
Drug residues are considered environmental contaminants, and their occurrence has recently become a matter of concern. Analytical methods and monitoring systems are therefore required to control the continuous input of these drug residues into the environment. This article presents a suitable HPLC-ESI-MS/MS [...] Read more.
Drug residues are considered environmental contaminants, and their occurrence has recently become a matter of concern. Analytical methods and monitoring systems are therefore required to control the continuous input of these drug residues into the environment. This article presents a suitable HPLC-ESI-MS/MS method for the simultaneous extraction, detection and quantification of residues of 13 drugs (antimicrobials, glucocorticosteroids, anti-inflammatories, anti-hypertensives, anti-cancer drugs and triphenylmethane dyes) in surface water. A monitoring study with 549 water samples was carried out in northwestern Spain to detect the presence of drug residues over two sampling periods during 2010, 2011 and 2012. Samples were collected from rural areas with and without farming activity and from urban areas. The 13 analytes were detected, and 18% of the samples collected showed positive results for the presence of at least one analyte. More collection sites were located in rural areas than in urban areas. However, more positive samples with higher concentrations and a larger number of analytes were detected in samples collected from sites located after the discharge of a WWTP. Results indicated that the WWTPs seems to act as a concentration point. Positive samples were also detected at a site located near a drinking water treatment plant. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evaluation of Rural Water Systems and Public Health)
Open AccessArticle Evaluation of a School-Based Depression Prevention Program among Adolescents from Low-Income Areas: A Randomized Controlled Effectiveness Trial
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5273-5293; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505273
Received: 14 February 2014 / Revised: 5 May 2014 / Accepted: 5 May 2014 / Published: 15 May 2014
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Abstract
A randomized controlled trial was conducted among a potential high-risk group of 1,343 adolescents from low-income areas in The Netherlands to test the effectiveness of the depression prevention program Op Volle Kracht (OVK) as provided by teachers in a school setting. The [...] Read more.
A randomized controlled trial was conducted among a potential high-risk group of 1,343 adolescents from low-income areas in The Netherlands to test the effectiveness of the depression prevention program Op Volle Kracht (OVK) as provided by teachers in a school setting. The results showed no main effect of the program on depressive symptoms at one-year follow-up. A moderation effect was found for parental psychopathology; adolescents who had parents with psychopathology and received the OVK program had less depressive symptoms compared to adolescents with parents with psychopathology in the control condition. No moderating effects on depressive symptoms were found for gender, ethnical background, and level of baseline depressive symptoms. An iatrogenic effect of the intervention was found on the secondary outcome of clinical depressive symptoms. Based on the low level of reported depressive symptoms at baseline, it seems that our sample might not meet the characteristics of a high-risk selective group for depressive symptoms. Therefore, no firm conclusions can be drawn about the selective potential of the OVK depression prevention program. In its current form, the OVK program should not be implemented on a large scale in the natural setting for non-high-risk adolescents. Future research should focus on high-risk participants, such as children of parents with psychopathology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Adolescent Depression Prevention)
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Open AccessArticle Teachers or Psychologists: Who Should Facilitate Depression Prevention Programs in Schools?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5294-5316; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505294
Received: 13 February 2014 / Revised: 14 April 2014 / Accepted: 15 April 2014 / Published: 15 May 2014
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Abstract
The current study evaluates a depression prevention program for adolescents led by psychologists vs. teachers in comparison to a control. The universal school-based prevention program has shown its efficacy in several studies when implemented by psychologists. The current study compares the effects [...] Read more.
The current study evaluates a depression prevention program for adolescents led by psychologists vs. teachers in comparison to a control. The universal school-based prevention program has shown its efficacy in several studies when implemented by psychologists. The current study compares the effects of the program as implemented by teachers versus that implemented by psychologists under real-life conditions. A total of 646 vocational track 8th grade students from Germany participated either in a universal prevention program, led by teachers (n = 207) or psychologists (n = 213), or a teaching-as-usual control condition (n = 226). The design includes baseline, post-intervention, and follow-up (at 6 and 12 months post-intervention). The cognitive-behavioral program includes 10 sessions held in a regular school setting in same-gender groups and is based on the social information-processing model of social competence. Positive intervention effects were found on the change in girls’ depressive symptoms up to 12 months after program delivery when the program was implemented by psychologists. No such effects were found on boys or when program was delivered by teachers. The prevention program can successfully be implemented for girls by psychologists. Further research is needed for explanations of these effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Adolescent Depression Prevention)
Open AccessArticle A Randomized Longitudinal Factorial Design to Assess Malaria Vector Control and Disease Management Interventions in Rural Tanzania
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5317-5332; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505317
Received: 14 March 2014 / Revised: 9 May 2014 / Accepted: 9 May 2014 / Published: 16 May 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (540 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Correction
Abstract
The optimization of malaria control strategies is complicated by constraints posed by local health systems, infrastructure, limited resources, and the complex interactions between infection, disease, and treatment. The purpose of this paper is to describe the protocol of a randomized factorial study [...] Read more.
The optimization of malaria control strategies is complicated by constraints posed by local health systems, infrastructure, limited resources, and the complex interactions between infection, disease, and treatment. The purpose of this paper is to describe the protocol of a randomized factorial study designed to address this research gap. This project will evaluate two malaria control interventions in Mvomero District, Tanzania: (1) a disease management strategy involving early detection and treatment by community health workers using rapid diagnostic technology; and (2) vector control through community-supported larviciding. Six study villages were assigned to each of four groups (control, early detection and treatment, larviciding, and early detection and treatment plus larviciding). The primary endpoint of interest was change in malaria infection prevalence across the intervention groups measured during annual longitudinal cross-sectional surveys. Recurring entomological surveying, household surveying, and focus group discussions will provide additional valuable insights. At baseline, 962 households across all 24 villages participated in a household survey; 2,884 members from 720 of these households participated in subsequent malariometric surveying. The study design will allow us to estimate the effect sizes of different intervention mixtures. Careful documentation of our study protocol may also serve other researchers designing field-based intervention trials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Epidemiology, Prevention and Control of Malaria)
Open AccessArticle Face Validity of the Single Work Ability Item: Comparison with Objectively Measured Heart Rate Reserve over Several Days
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5333-5348; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505333
Received: 13 February 2014 / Revised: 14 April 2014 / Accepted: 8 May 2014 / Published: 16 May 2014
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Abstract
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the face validity of the self-reported single item work ability with objectively measured heart rate reserve (%HRR) among blue-collar workers. Methods: We utilized data from 127 blue-collar workers (Female = 53; [...] Read more.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the face validity of the self-reported single item work ability with objectively measured heart rate reserve (%HRR) among blue-collar workers. Methods: We utilized data from 127 blue-collar workers (Female = 53; Male = 74) aged 18–65 years from the cross-sectional “New method for Objective Measurements of physical Activity in Daily living (NOMAD)” study. The workers reported their single item work ability and completed an aerobic capacity cycling test and objective measurements of heart rate reserve monitored with Actiheart for 3–4 days with a total of 5,810 h, including 2,640 working hours. Results: A significant moderate correlation between work ability and %HRR was observed among males (R = −0.33, P = 0.005), but not among females (R = 0.11, P = 0.431). In a gender-stratified multi-adjusted logistic regression analysis, males with high %HRR were more likely to report a reduced work ability compared to males with low %HRR [OR = 4.75, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) = 1.31 to 17.25]. However, this association was not found among females (OR = 0.26, 95% CI 0.03 to 2.16), and a significant interaction between work ability, %HRR and gender was observed (P = 0.03). Conclusions: The observed association between work ability and objectively measured %HRR over several days among male blue-collar workers supports the face validity of the single work ability item. It is a useful and valid measure of the relation between physical work demands and resources among male blue-collar workers. The contrasting association among females needs to be further investigated. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Next Generation of Interoperability Agents in Healthcare
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5349-5371; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505349
Received: 3 March 2014 / Revised: 24 April 2014 / Accepted: 28 April 2014 / Published: 16 May 2014
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (4480 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Interoperability in health information systems is increasingly a requirement rather than an option. Standards and technologies, such as multi-agent systems, have proven to be powerful tools in interoperability issues. In the last few years, the authors have worked on developing the Agency [...] Read more.
Interoperability in health information systems is increasingly a requirement rather than an option. Standards and technologies, such as multi-agent systems, have proven to be powerful tools in interoperability issues. In the last few years, the authors have worked on developing the Agency for Integration, Diffusion and Archive of Medical Information (AIDA), which is an intelligent, agent-based platform to ensure interoperability in healthcare units. It is increasingly important to ensure the high availability and reliability of systems. The functions provided by the systems that treat interoperability cannot fail. This paper shows the importance of monitoring and controlling intelligent agents as a tool to anticipate problems in health information systems. The interaction between humans and agents through an interface that allows the user to create new agents easily and to monitor their activities in real time is also an important feature, as health systems evolve by adopting more features and solving new problems. A module was installed in Centro Hospitalar do Porto, increasing the functionality and the overall usability of AIDA. Full article
Open AccessArticle Decrease of Pirimiphos-Methyl and Deltamethrin Residues in Stored Rice with Post-Harvest Treatment
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5372-5381; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505372
Received: 17 March 2014 / Revised: 6 May 2014 / Accepted: 9 May 2014 / Published: 16 May 2014
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Abstract
A modified quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged (QuEChERS) method with multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) as reversed-dispersive solid phase extraction (r-DSPE) material was applied to the analysis of pirimiphos-methyl and deltamethrin residues in stored rice. Two dustable powder (DP) formulations (2% pirimiphos-methyl and [...] Read more.
A modified quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged (QuEChERS) method with multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) as reversed-dispersive solid phase extraction (r-DSPE) material was applied to the analysis of pirimiphos-methyl and deltamethrin residues in stored rice. Two dustable powder (DP) formulations (2% pirimiphos-methyl and deltamethrin DP; 5% pirimiphos-methyl DP) were applied in simulated storehouse trials in the lab. The residues and dissipation of the two pesticides in stored rice were investigated. Slow dissipation of both pesticides was observed in stored rice. The half-lives of pirimiphos-methyl were 23.9–28.9 days, and those of deltamethrin were 23.9–24.8 days. Residues of pirimiphos-methyl from application rates of 4.5–6.75 a.i. mg/kg (active ingredient milligram per kilogram) and 10–15 a.i. mg/kg were 1.6–3.8 mg/kg and 3.0–4.5 mg/kg at 60 days Pre-harvest Interval (PHI). Residues of deltamethrin from an application rate of 0.5–0.75 a.i. mg/kg were 0.13–0.14 mg/kg at 60 days PHI. Both pesticides residues were below the Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC). Therefore, at the recommended dosages they are safe for use on stored rice. Full article
Open AccessArticle Range-Finding Risk Assessment of Inhalation Exposure to Nanodiamonds in a Laboratory Environment
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5382-5402; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505382
Received: 13 March 2014 / Revised: 4 May 2014 / Accepted: 8 May 2014 / Published: 16 May 2014
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (1096 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This study considers fundamental methods in occupational risk assessment of exposure to airborne engineered nanomaterials. We discuss characterization of particle emissions, exposure assessment, hazard assessment with in vitro studies, and risk range characterization using calculated inhaled doses and dose-response translated to humans [...] Read more.
This study considers fundamental methods in occupational risk assessment of exposure to airborne engineered nanomaterials. We discuss characterization of particle emissions, exposure assessment, hazard assessment with in vitro studies, and risk range characterization using calculated inhaled doses and dose-response translated to humans from in vitro studies. Here, the methods were utilized to assess workers’ risk range of inhalation exposure to nanodiamonds (NDs) during handling and sieving of ND powder. NDs were agglomerated to over 500 nm particles, and mean exposure levels of different work tasks varied from 0.24 to 4.96 µg·m−3 (0.08 to 0.74 cm−3). In vitro-experiments suggested that ND exposure may cause a risk for activation of inflammatory cascade. However, risk range characterization based on in vitro dose-response was not performed because accurate assessment of delivered (settled) dose on the cells was not possible. Comparison of ND exposure with common pollutants revealed that ND exposure was below 5 μg·m−3, which is one of the proposed exposure limits for diesel particulate matter, and the workers’ calculated dose of NDs during the measurement day was 74 ng which corresponded to 0.02% of the modeled daily (24 h) dose of submicrometer urban air particles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ultrafine Particles and Potential Health Effects)
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Open AccessArticle Funding Decisions for Newborn Screening: A Comparative Review of 22 Decision Processes in Europe
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5403-5430; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505403
Received: 15 January 2014 / Revised: 29 April 2014 / Accepted: 9 May 2014 / Published: 19 May 2014
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Abstract
Decision-makers need to make choices to improve public health. Population-based newborn screening (NBS) is considered as one strategy to prevent adverse health outcomes and address rare disease patients’ needs. The aim of this study was to describe key characteristics of decisions for [...] Read more.
Decision-makers need to make choices to improve public health. Population-based newborn screening (NBS) is considered as one strategy to prevent adverse health outcomes and address rare disease patients’ needs. The aim of this study was to describe key characteristics of decisions for funding new NBS programmes in Europe. We analysed past decisions using a conceptual framework. It incorporates indicators that capture the steps of decision processes by health care payers. Based on an internet survey, we compared 22 decisions for which answers among two respondents were validated for each observation. The frequencies of indicators were calculated to elicit key characteristics. All decisions resulted in positive, mostly unrestricted funding. Stakeholder participation was diverse focusing on information provision or voting. Often, decisions were not fully transparent. Assessment of NBS technologies concentrated on expert opinion, literature review and rough cost estimates. Most important appraisal criteria were effectiveness (i.e., health gain from testing for the children being screened), disease severity and availability of treatments. Some common and diverging key characteristics were identified. Although no evidence of explicit healthcare rationing was found, processes may be improved in respect of transparency and scientific rigour of assessment. Full article
Open AccessArticle Geographical Distribution Patterns of Iodine in Drinking-Water and Its Associations with Geological Factors in Shandong Province, China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5431-5444; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505431
Received: 7 March 2014 / Revised: 29 April 2014 / Accepted: 4 May 2014 / Published: 19 May 2014
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Abstract
County-based spatial distribution characteristics and the related geological factors for iodine in drinking-water were studied in Shandong Province (China). Spatial autocorrelation analysis and spatial scan statistic were applied to analyze the spatial characteristics. Generalized linear models (GLMs) and geographically weighted regression (GWR) [...] Read more.
County-based spatial distribution characteristics and the related geological factors for iodine in drinking-water were studied in Shandong Province (China). Spatial autocorrelation analysis and spatial scan statistic were applied to analyze the spatial characteristics. Generalized linear models (GLMs) and geographically weighted regression (GWR) studies were conducted to explore the relationship between water iodine level and its related geological factors. The spatial distribution of iodine in drinking-water was significantly heterogeneous in Shandong Province (Moran’s I = 0.52, Z = 7.4, p < 0.001). Two clusters for high iodine in drinking-water were identified in the south-western and north-western parts of Shandong Province by the purely spatial scan statistic approach. Both GLMs and GWR indicated a significantly global association between iodine in drinking-water and geological factors. Furthermore, GWR showed obviously spatial variability across the study region. Soil type and distance to Yellow River were statistically significant at most areas of Shandong Province, confirming the hypothesis that the Yellow River causes iodine deposits in Shandong Province. Our results suggested that the more effective regional monitoring plan and water improvement strategies should be strengthened targeting at the cluster areas based on the characteristics of geological factors and the spatial variability of local relationships between iodine in drinking-water and geological factors. Full article
Open AccessArticle Green Perspectives for Public Health: A Narrative Review on the Physiological Effects of Experiencing Outdoor Nature
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5445-5461; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505445
Received: 1 April 2014 / Revised: 12 May 2014 / Accepted: 14 May 2014 / Published: 19 May 2014
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Abstract
Natural environments offer a high potential for human well-being, restoration and stress recovery in terms of allostatic load. A growing body of literature is investigating psychological and physiological health benefits of contact with Nature. So far, a synthesis of physiological health outcomes [...] Read more.
Natural environments offer a high potential for human well-being, restoration and stress recovery in terms of allostatic load. A growing body of literature is investigating psychological and physiological health benefits of contact with Nature. So far, a synthesis of physiological health outcomes of direct outdoor nature experiences and its potential for improving Public Health is missing. We were interested in summarizing the outcomes of studies that investigated physiological outcomes of experiencing Nature measuring at least one physiological parameter during the last two decades. Studies on effects of indoor or simulated Nature exposure via videos or photos, animal contact, and wood as building material were excluded from further analysis. As an online literature research delivered heterogeneous data inappropriate for quantitative synthesis approaches, we descriptively summarized and narratively synthesized studies. The procedure started with 1,187 titles. Research articles in English language published in international peer-reviewed journals that investigated the effects of natural outdoor environments on humans by were included. We identified 17 relevant articles reporting on effects of Nature by measuring 20 different physiological parameters. We assigned these parameters to one of the four body systems brain activity, cardiovascular system, endocrine system, and immune function. These studies reported mainly direct and positive effects, however, our analyses revealed heterogeneous outcomes regarding significance of results. Most of the studies were conducted in Japan, based on quite small samples, predominantly with male students as participants in a cross-sectional design. In general, our narrative review provided an ambiguous illustration of the effects outdoor nature exerted on physiological parameters. However, the majority of studies reported significant positive effects. A harmonizing effect of Nature, especially on physiological stress reactions, was found across all body systems. From a Public Health perspective, interdisciplinary work on utilizing benefits of Nature regarding health promotion, disease prevention, and nature-based therapy should be optimized in order to eventually diminish given methodological limitations from mono-disciplinary studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Benefits of Nature)
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Open AccessArticle Diabetes Prevention in the New York City Sikh Asian Indian Community: A Pilot Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5462-5486; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505462
Received: 31 January 2014 / Revised: 6 May 2014 / Accepted: 9 May 2014 / Published: 19 May 2014
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Abstract
India has one of the highest burdens of diabetes worldwide, and rates of diabetes are also high among Asian Indian immigrants that have migrated into the United States (U.S.). Sikhs represent a significant portion of Asian Indians in the U.S. Diabetes prevention [...] Read more.
India has one of the highest burdens of diabetes worldwide, and rates of diabetes are also high among Asian Indian immigrants that have migrated into the United States (U.S.). Sikhs represent a significant portion of Asian Indians in the U.S. Diabetes prevention programs have shown the benefits of using lifestyle intervention to reduce diabetes risk, yet there have been no culturally-tailored programs for diabetes prevention in the Sikh community. Using a quasi-experimental two-arm design, 126 Sikh Asian Indians living in New York City were enrolled in a six-workshop intervention led by community health workers. A total of 108 participants completed baseline and 6-month follow-up surveys between March 2012 and October 2013. Main outcome measures included clinical variables (weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol) and health behaviors (changes in physical activity, food behaviors, and diabetes knowledge). Changes were significant for the treatment group in weight, BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure, glucose, physical activity, food behaviors, and diabetes knowledge, and between group differences were significant for glucose, diabetes knowledge, portion control, and physical activity social interaction. Retention rates were high. Findings demonstrate that a diabetes prevention program in the Sikh community is acceptable, feasible, and efficacious. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diabetes Prevention: Challenges and Opportunities)
Open AccessArticle Physical Activity Levels in Women Attending Breast Screening, Receiving Chemotherapy and Post-Breast Cancer Treatment; A Cross-Sectional Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5487-5496; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505487
Received: 11 March 2014 / Revised: 24 April 2014 / Accepted: 9 May 2014 / Published: 20 May 2014
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Abstract
Background: A lack of physical activity (PA) is a well-recognised risk factor in the development of breast cancer (BC) and evidence-base research on the impact of PA on BC survival is consolidating. However, evidence reveals that BC survivors have low levels [...] Read more.
Background: A lack of physical activity (PA) is a well-recognised risk factor in the development of breast cancer (BC) and evidence-base research on the impact of PA on BC survival is consolidating. However, evidence reveals that BC survivors have low levels of PA, suggesting the need of targeted interventions to enhance the PA behaviour of BC survivors. Unfortunately, there is lack of data from the UK about the PA behaviours of women at various stages of diagnosis and treatment of BC. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to assess PA levels in women at different stages of BC pathway. Patients and Methods: A convenient sample of patients was selected at various stages of presentation and treatment of BC. Patients attending for breast screening for NHSBSP (n = 188), post-operative patients attending for chemotherapy (n = 41) and BC patients within one year’s post-treatment (n = 80) were invited to take part in this cross-sectional study. Results: Based on the odds ratio, the likelihood of a chemotherapy participant not meeting PA guidelines (i.e., being in the low activity category) were three times higher than the odds of a NHSBPS attendee not meeting PA guidelines, and compared to post-treatment participants, the chemotherapy patient’s odds of not meeting PA guidelines was four times higher. The odds of NHSBPS attendees being in the high activity category compared to the moderate category were three times higher than that of a post-treatment participant. Conclusions: The current study suggests the need to establish robust PA interventions to enhance the PA behaviour of breast cancer survivors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Lifestyle Intervention for Chronic Diseases Prevention)
Open AccessArticle Elevated White Blood Cell Count Is Associated with Higher Risk of Glucose Metabolism Disorders in Middle-Aged and Elderly Chinese People
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5497-5509; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505497
Received: 4 April 2014 / Revised: 12 May 2014 / Accepted: 13 May 2014 / Published: 20 May 2014
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Abstract
White blood cell (WBC) count has been associated with diabetic risk, but whether the correlation is independent of other risk factors has hardly been studied. Moreover, very few such studies with large sample sizes have been conducted in Chinese. Therefore, we investigated [...] Read more.
White blood cell (WBC) count has been associated with diabetic risk, but whether the correlation is independent of other risk factors has hardly been studied. Moreover, very few such studies with large sample sizes have been conducted in Chinese. Therefore, we investigated the relationship between WBC count and glucose metabolism in china. We also examined the relevant variables of WBC count. A total of 9,697 subjects (mean age, 58.0 ± 9.1 years) were recruited. The subjects were classified into four groups, including subjects with normal glucose tolerance, isolated impaired fasting glucose, impaired glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). We found that WBC count increased as glucose metabolism disorders exacerbated. WBC count was also positively correlated with waist hip ratio, body mass index, smoking, triglycerides, glycosylated haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) and 2-h postprandial glucose. In addition, high density lipoprotein and the female gender were inversely correlated with WBC count. In patients with previously diagnosed T2DM, the course of T2DM was not correlated with WBC count. Our findings indicate that elevated WBC count is independently associated with worsening of glucose metabolism in middle-aged and elderly Chinese. In addition, loss of weight, smoking cessation, lipid-modifying therapies, and control of postprandial plasma glucose and HbA1c may ameliorate the chronic low-grade inflammation. Full article
Open AccessArticle Use of Segregation Indices, Townsend Index, and Air Toxics Data to Assess Lifetime Cancer Risk Disparities in Metropolitan Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5510-5526; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505510
Received: 4 March 2014 / Revised: 25 April 2014 / Accepted: 12 May 2014 / Published: 21 May 2014
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (550 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Background: Studies have demonstrated a relationship between segregation and level of education, occupational opportunities, and risk behaviors, yet a paucity of research has elucidated the association between racial residential segregation, socioeconomic deprivation, and lifetime cancer risk. Objectives: We examined estimated [...] Read more.
Background: Studies have demonstrated a relationship between segregation and level of education, occupational opportunities, and risk behaviors, yet a paucity of research has elucidated the association between racial residential segregation, socioeconomic deprivation, and lifetime cancer risk. Objectives: We examined estimated lifetime cancer risk from air toxics by racial composition, segregation, and deprivation in census tracts in Metropolitan Charleston. Methods: Segregation indices were used to measure the distribution of groups of people from different races within neighborhoods. The Townsend Index was used to measure economic deprivation in the study area. Poisson multivariate regressions were applied to assess the association of lifetime cancer risk with segregation indices and Townsend Index along with several sociodemographic measures. Results: Lifetime cancer risk from all pollution sources was 28 persons/million for half of the census tracts in Metropolitan Charleston. Isolation Index and Townsend Index both showed significant correlation with lifetime cancer risk from different sources. This significance still holds after adjusting for other sociodemographic measures in a Poisson regression, and these two indices have stronger effect on lifetime cancer risk compared to the effects of sociodemographic measures. Conclusions: We found that material deprivation, measured by the Townsend Index and segregation measured by the Isolation index, introduced high impact on lifetime cancer risk by air toxics at the census tract level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Eliminating Health Disparities to Achieve Health Equity)
Open AccessArticle Assessment of the Microbiological Quality of Groundwater in Three Regions of the Valencian Community (Spain)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5527-5540; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505527
Received: 6 February 2014 / Revised: 16 April 2014 / Accepted: 12 May 2014 / Published: 22 May 2014
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Abstract
Urban groundwater development was traditionally constrained by concerns about its quality. This study was conducted in the regions of La Ribera Alta and Ribera Baja and La Plana de Requena-Utiel of the Valencian Community (Valencia, Spain) where population density, demand for drinking [...] Read more.
Urban groundwater development was traditionally constrained by concerns about its quality. This study was conducted in the regions of La Ribera Alta and Ribera Baja and La Plana de Requena-Utiel of the Valencian Community (Valencia, Spain) where population density, demand for drinking water and agricultural activities are high. Groundwater bodies (GWBs) are regarded as management areas within each territory, and were used to establish protection policies. This study analyzed eleven GWBs. We used two databases with microbiological measurements from 154 wells over a 7-year period (2004–2011), risk factors and groundwater information. Wells were grouped according to frequency of microbiological contamination using E. coli measurements, category <1, or wells with low-frequency microbiological contamination and high-frequency wells or category 1–100, according to World Health Organization (WHO) quality criteria of drinking water. Of all wells, 18.12% showed high-frequency microbiological contamination with a majority distribution in the Ribera Alta region (26.98%, p < 0.001). No significant differences were found between the two risk categories for flow, static level, well depth and distance from population centres. This paper reveals that the vulnerability classes established by the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain (IGME) do not match the microbiological results, and that only eight wells with high-frequency contamination coincide with the high vulnerability areas. Full article
Open AccessArticle A Qualitative Investigation of Adolescents’ Perceived Mechanisms of Change from a Universal School-Based Depression Prevention Program
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5541-5554; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505541
Received: 24 March 2014 / Revised: 14 May 2014 / Accepted: 15 May 2014 / Published: 22 May 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (243 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A recent meta-analysis provides evidence supporting the universal application of school-based prevention programs for adolescent depression. The mechanisms underlying such successful interventions, however, are largely unknown. We report on a qualitative analysis of 109 Grade 9 students’ beliefs about what they gained [...] Read more.
A recent meta-analysis provides evidence supporting the universal application of school-based prevention programs for adolescent depression. The mechanisms underlying such successful interventions, however, are largely unknown. We report on a qualitative analysis of 109 Grade 9 students’ beliefs about what they gained from an evidence-based depression prevention intervention, the Resourceful Adolescent Program (RAP-A). Fifty-four percent of interviewees articulated at least one specific example of program benefit. A thematic analysis of responses revealed two major themes, improved interpersonal relationships and improved self-regulation, both stronger than originally assumed. A more minor theme also emerged—more helpful cognitions. It is postulated that both improved interpersonal relationships and improved self-regulation are likely to enhance one another, and more helpful cognitions may express its contribution through enhanced self-regulation. These findings broaden our understanding of the impact of depression prevention programs, beginning to illuminate how such programs benefit participants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Adolescent Depression Prevention)
Open AccessArticle Public Health Workers and Vaccination Coverage in Eastern China: A Health Economic Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5555-5566; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505555
Received: 21 April 2014 / Revised: 16 May 2014 / Accepted: 16 May 2014 / Published: 22 May 2014
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Abstract
Background: Vaccine-preventable diseases cause more than one million deaths among children under 5 years of age every year. Public Health Workers (PHWs) are needed to provide immunization services, but the role of human resources for public health as a determinant of [...] Read more.
Background: Vaccine-preventable diseases cause more than one million deaths among children under 5 years of age every year. Public Health Workers (PHWs) are needed to provide immunization services, but the role of human resources for public health as a determinant of vaccination coverage at the population level has not been assessed in China. The objective of this study was to test whether PHW density was positively associated with childhood vaccination coverage in Zhejiang Province, East China. Methods: The vaccination coverage rates of Measles Containing Vaccine (MCV), Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis combined vaccine (DTP), and Poliomyelitis Vaccine (PV) were chosen as the dependent variables. Vaccination coverage data of children aged 13–24 months for each county in Zhejiang Province were taken from the Zhejiang Immunization Information System (ZJIIS). Aggregate PHW density was an independent variable in one set of regressions, and Vaccine Personnel (VP) and other PHW densities were used separately in another set. Data on densities of PHW and VP were taken from a national investigation on EPI launched by Ministry of Health of China in 2013. We controlled other determinants that may influence the vaccination coverage like Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person, proportion of migrant children aged <7 years, and land area. These data were taken from Zhejiang Provincial Bureau of Statistics and ZJIIS. Results: PHW density was significantly influence the coverage rates of MCV [Adjusted Odds Ratio(AOR) = 4.29], DTP3(AOR = 2.16), and PV3 (AOR = 3.30). However, when the effects of VPs and other PHWs were assessed separately, we found that VP density was significantly associated with coverage of all three vaccinations (MCV AOR = 7.05; DTP3 AOR = 1.82; PV3 AOR = 4.83), while other PHW density was not. Proportion of migrant children < 7 years and Land area were found as negative and significant determinants for vaccination coverage, while GDP per person had no effect on vaccination coverage. Conclusions: A higher density of PHWs (VP) would improve the availability of immunization services over time and space, which may increase the possibility of achieving a higher childhood vaccination coverage rate. It was indicated that the level of GDP per person had no association with the improved vaccination coverage after controlling for other potential factors. Our findings implicated that PHW density was a major constraint on immunization coverage in Zhejiang Province. Full article

Review

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Open AccessReview Behavioural Change, Indoor Air Pollution and Child Respiratory Health in Developing Countries: A Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4607-4618; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504607
Received: 8 December 2013 / Revised: 31 March 2014 / Accepted: 1 April 2014 / Published: 25 April 2014
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (251 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Indoor air pollution caused by the indoor burning of solid biomass fuels has been associated with Acute Respiratory Infections such as pneumonia amongst children of less than five years of age. Behavioural change interventions have been identified as a potential strategy to [...] Read more.
Indoor air pollution caused by the indoor burning of solid biomass fuels has been associated with Acute Respiratory Infections such as pneumonia amongst children of less than five years of age. Behavioural change interventions have been identified as a potential strategy to reduce child indoor air pollution exposure, yet very little is known about the impact of behavioural change interventions to reduce indoor air pollution. Even less is known about how behaviour change theory has been incorporated into indoor air pollution behaviour change interventions. A review of published studies spanning 1983–2013 suggests that behavioural change strategies have the potential to reduce indoor air pollution exposure by 20%–98% in laboratory settings and 31%–94% in field settings. However, the evidence is: (1) based on studies that are methodologically weak; and (2) have little or no underlying theory. The paper concludes with a call for more rigorous studies to evaluate the role of behavioural change strategies (with or without improved technologies) to reduce indoor air pollution exposure in developing countries as well as interventions that draw more strongly on existing behavioural change theory and practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Behavior and Public Health)
Open AccessReview Microorganisms with Claimed Probiotic Properties: An Overview of Recent Literature
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4745-4767; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504745
Received: 30 January 2014 / Revised: 17 March 2014 / Accepted: 25 March 2014 / Published: 5 May 2014
Cited by 21 | PDF Full-text (268 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. Health benefits have mainly been demonstrated for specific probiotic strains of the following genera: Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces, Enterococcus, Streptococcus [...] Read more.
Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. Health benefits have mainly been demonstrated for specific probiotic strains of the following genera: Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces, Enterococcus, Streptococcus, Pediococcus, Leuconostoc, Bacillus, Escherichia coli. The human microbiota is getting a lot of attention today and research has already demonstrated that alteration of this microbiota may have far-reaching consequences. One of the possible routes for correcting dysbiosis is by consuming probiotics. The credibility of specific health claims of probiotics and their safety must be established through science-based clinical studies. This overview summarizes the most commonly used probiotic microorganisms and their demonstrated health claims. As probiotic properties have been shown to be strain specific, accurate identification of particular strains is also very important. On the other hand, it is also demonstrated that the use of various probiotics for immunocompromised patients or patients with a leaky gut has also yielded infections, sepsis, fungemia, bacteraemia. Although the vast majority of probiotics that are used today are generally regarded as safe and beneficial for healthy individuals, caution in selecting and monitoring of probiotics for patients is needed and complete consideration of risk-benefit ratio before prescribing is recommended. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue IJERPH: 10th Anniversary)
Open AccessReview Sorption of Hydrophobic Organic Compounds on Natural Sorbents and Organoclays from Aqueous and Non-Aqueous Solutions: A Mini-Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5020-5048; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505020
Received: 17 December 2013 / Revised: 16 April 2014 / Accepted: 30 April 2014 / Published: 9 May 2014
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (641 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Renewed focus on the sorption of hydrophobic organic chemicals (HOCs) onto mineral surfaces and soil components is required due to the increased and wider range of organic pollutants being released into the environment. This mini-review examines the possibility of the contribution and [...] Read more.
Renewed focus on the sorption of hydrophobic organic chemicals (HOCs) onto mineral surfaces and soil components is required due to the increased and wider range of organic pollutants being released into the environment. This mini-review examines the possibility of the contribution and mechanism of HOC sorption onto clay mineral sorbents such as kaolinite, and soil organic matter and the possible role of both in the prevention of environmental contamination by HOCs. Literature data indicates that certain siloxane surfaces can be hydrophobic. Therefore soils can retain HOCs even at low soil organic levels and the extent will depend on the structure of the pollutant and the type and concentration of clay minerals in the sorbent. Clay minerals are wettable by nonpolar solvents and so sorption of HOCs onto them from aqueous and non-aqueous solutions is possible. This is important for two reasons: firstly, the movement and remediation of soil environments will be a function of the concentration and type of clay minerals in the soil. Secondly, low-cost sorbents such as kaolinite and expandable clays can be added to soils or contaminated environments as temporary retention barriers for HOCs. Inorganic cations sorbed onto the kaolinite have a strong influence on the rate and extent of sorption of hydrophobic organic pollutants onto kaolinite. Structural sorbate classes that can be retained by the kaolinite matrix are limited by hydrogen bonding between hydroxyl groups of the octahedral alumosilicate sheet and the tetrahedral sheet with silicon. Soil organic carbon plays a key role in the sorption of HOCs onto soils, but the extent will be strongly affected by the structure of the organic soil matter and the presence of soot. Structural characterisation of soil organic matter in a particular soil should be conducted during a particular contamination event. Contamination by mining extractants and antibiotics will require renewed focus on the use of the QSAR approaches in the context of the sorption of HOCs onto clay minerals from aqueous and non-aqueous solutions. Full article
Open AccessReview A Review of Data Quality Assessment Methods for Public Health Information Systems
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5170-5207; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505170
Received: 20 January 2014 / Revised: 7 May 2014 / Accepted: 7 May 2014 / Published: 14 May 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (620 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
High quality data and effective data quality assessment are required for accurately evaluating the impact of public health interventions and measuring public health outcomes. Data, data use, and data collection process, as the three dimensions of data quality, all need to be [...] Read more.
High quality data and effective data quality assessment are required for accurately evaluating the impact of public health interventions and measuring public health outcomes. Data, data use, and data collection process, as the three dimensions of data quality, all need to be assessed for overall data quality assessment. We reviewed current data quality assessment methods. The relevant study was identified in major databases and well-known institutional websites. We found the dimension of data was most frequently assessed. Completeness, accuracy, and timeliness were the three most-used attributes among a total of 49 attributes of data quality. The major quantitative assessment methods were descriptive surveys and data audits, whereas the common qualitative assessment methods were interview and documentation review. The limitations of the reviewed studies included inattentiveness to data use and data collection process, inconsistency in the definition of attributes of data quality, failure to address data users’ concerns and a lack of systematic procedures in data quality assessment. This review study is limited by the coverage of the databases and the breadth of public health information systems. Further research could develop consistent data quality definitions and attributes. More research efforts should be given to assess the quality of data use and the quality of data collection process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Public Health Informatics)
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Other

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Open AccessCommentary Climate Services to Improve Public Health
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4555-4559; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504555
Received: 17 February 2014 / Revised: 16 April 2014 / Accepted: 17 April 2014 / Published: 25 April 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (154 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A high level expert panel discussed how climate and health services could best collaborate to improve public health. This was on the agenda of the recent Third International Climate Services Conference, held in Montego Bay, Jamaica, 4–6 December 2013. Issues and challenges [...] Read more.
A high level expert panel discussed how climate and health services could best collaborate to improve public health. This was on the agenda of the recent Third International Climate Services Conference, held in Montego Bay, Jamaica, 4–6 December 2013. Issues and challenges concerning a demand led approach to serve the health sector needs, were identified and analysed. Important recommendations emerged to ensure that innovative collaboration between climate and health services assist decision-making processes and the management of climate-sensitive health risk. Key recommendations included: a move from risk assessment towards risk management; the engagement of the public health community with both the climate sector and development sectors, whose decisions impact on health, particularly the most vulnerable; to increase operational research on the use of policy-relevant climate information to manage climate- sensitive health risks; and to develop in-country capacities to improve local knowledge (including collection of epidemiological, climate and socio-economic data), along with institutional interaction with policy makers. Full article
Open AccessCase Report Perchlorate Exposure and Thyroid Function in Ammonium Perchlorate Workers in Yicheng, China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 4926-4938; doi:10.3390/ijerph110504926
Received: 24 January 2014 / Revised: 28 April 2014 / Accepted: 29 April 2014 / Published: 7 May 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (355 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The impact of low level dust on the thyroid function of workers chronically exposed to ammonium perchlorate (AP) is uncertain and controversial. The aim of this study was to examine whether workers in China with long-term (>3 years) occupational exposure to low [...] Read more.
The impact of low level dust on the thyroid function of workers chronically exposed to ammonium perchlorate (AP) is uncertain and controversial. The aim of this study was to examine whether workers in China with long-term (>3 years) occupational exposure to low levels of AP dust had affected thyroid homeostasis. Mean occupational exposures to AP dust ranged from 0.43 to 1.17 mg/m3. Geometric means of post-shift urinary perchlorate levels were 20.5 µg/L for those exposed and 12.8 µg/L for the controls. No significant differences were found for thyroid function parameters of FT3, FT4, or log TSH or for TPO prevalence or thyroglobulin levels. Additionally, no differences in findings were observed for complete blood count (CBC), serum biochemical profile, or pulmonary function test. Median urinary iodine levels of 172 and 184 µg/L showed that the workers had sufficient iodine intake. This study found no effect on thyroid function from long term, low-level documented exposure to ammonium perchlorate. It is the first study to report both thyroid status parameters and urinary perchlorate, a biomarker of internal perchlorate exposure, in occupationally exposed workers in China. Full article
Open AccessLetter How Soil Scientists Help Combat Podoconiosis, A Neglected Tropical Disease
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(5), 5133-5136; doi:10.3390/ijerph110505133
Received: 26 February 2014 / Revised: 5 May 2014 / Accepted: 8 May 2014 / Published: 13 May 2014
PDF Full-text (161 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Podoconiosis or “endemic non-filarial elephantiasis” is a tropical disease caused by prolonged exposure of bare feet to irritant alkaline clay soils of volcanic origin [1]. The name of the disease is derived from the Greek words for foot: podos, and dust: [...] Read more.
Podoconiosis or “endemic non-filarial elephantiasis” is a tropical disease caused by prolonged exposure of bare feet to irritant alkaline clay soils of volcanic origin [1]. The name of the disease is derived from the Greek words for foot: podos, and dust: konos. Small mineral particles from irritant soils penetrate the skin and provoke an inflammatory response leading to fibrosis and blockage of lymphatic vessels, causing lymphoedema [2]. Patients suffer from disabling physical effects, but also stigma [1]. The disease can simply be prevented by avoiding contact with irritant soils (wearing shoes) but this is still an unaffordable “luxury” for many people. Podoconiosis is unique because it is a completely preventable non-communicable tropical disease [1]. In the past few years, podoconiosis has received increased advocacy and is now step by step appearing on the agenda of medical researchers as well as politicians.  [...] Full article

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