Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health2015, 12(9), 10755-10782; doi:10.3390/ijerph120910755 (registering DOI) - published 1 September 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Mercury is utilized worldwide in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) and may pose a risk for miners and mining communities. While a number of studies have characterized mercury in ASGM communities, most have focused on a single media and few have taken a holistic approach. Here, a multiple media exposure assessment and cross-sectional study of mercury was conducted in 2010 through 2012 in northeast Ghana with a small-scale gold mining community, Kejetia, a subsistence farming community, Gorogo, and an urban ASGM gold refinery in Bolgatanga. The objective was to assess mercury in a range of human (urine and hair) and ecological (household soil, sediment, fish, and ore) samples to increase understanding of mercury exposure pathways. All participants were interviewed on demographics, occupational and medical histories, and household characteristics. Participants included 90 women of childbearing age and 97 adults from Kejetia and 75 adults from Gorogo. Median total specific gravity-adjusted urinary, hair, and household soil mercury were significantly higher in Kejetia miners (5.18 µg/L, 0.967 µg/g, and 3.77 µg/g, respectively) than Kejetia non-miners (1.18 µg/L, 0.419 µg/g, and 2.00 µg/g, respectively) and Gorogo participants (0.154 µg/L, 0.181 µg/g, and 0.039 µg/g) in 2011. Sediment, fish, and ore Hg concentrations were below guideline values. Median soil mercury from the Bolgatanga refinery was very high (54.6 µg/g). Estimated mean mercury ingestion for Kejetia adults from soil and dust exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reference dose (0.3 µg Hg/kg·day) for pica (0.409 µg Hg/kg·day) and geophagy (20.5 µg Hg/kg·day) scenarios. Most participants with elevated urinary and household soil mercury were miners, but some non-miners approached and exceeded guideline values, suggesting a health risk for non-mining residents living within these communities.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health2015, 12(9), 10739-10754; doi:10.3390/ijerph120910739 (registering DOI) - published 1 September 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Silicosis is a form of occupational lung disease caused by inhalation of crystalline silica dust. While the pathogenesis of silicosis is not clearly understood, the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway is thought to play a major role in lung fibrosis. To explore the role of Wnt/β-catenin pathway in silicosis, we blocked Wnt/β-catenin pathway both in silica-treated MLE-12 cells (a mouse pulmonaryepithelial cell line) and in a mouse silicosis model by using a lentiviral vector expressing a short hairpin RNA silencing β-catenin (Lv-shβ-catenin). In vitro, Lv-shβ-catenin significantly decreased the expression of β-catenin, MMP2 and MMP9, and secretion of TGF-β1. In vivo, intratracheal treatment with Lv-shβ-catenin significantly reduced expression of β-catenin in the lung and levels of TGF-β1 in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, and notably attenuated pulmonary fibrosis as evidenced by hydroxyproline content and collagen I\III synthesis in silica-administered mice. These results indicate that blockade of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway can prevent the development of silica-induced lung fibrosis. Thus Wnt/β-catenin pathway may be a target in prevention and treatment of silicosis.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health2015, 12(9), 10723-10738; doi:10.3390/ijerph120910723 (registering DOI) - published 31 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The aim of this paper is to investigate medical efforts and injury profiles of victims of the Lushan earthquake admitted to three military hospitals. This study retrospectively investigated the clinical records of 266 admitted patients evacuated from the Lushan earthquake area. The 2005 version of the Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS-2005) was used to identify the severity of each injury. Patient demographic data, complaints, diagnoses, injury types, prognosis, means of transportation, and cause of injury were all reviewed individually. The statistical analysis of the study was conducted primarily using descriptive statistics. Of the 266 patients, 213 (80.1%) were admitted in the first two days. A total of 521 injury diagnoses were recorded in 266 patients. Earthquake-related injuries were primarily caused by buildings collapsing (38.4%) and victims being struck by objects (33.8%); the most frequently injured anatomic sites were the lower extremities and pelvis (34.2%) and surface area of the body (17.9%). Fracture (41.5%) was the most frequent injury, followed by soft tissue injury (27.5%), but crush syndrome was relatively low (1.2%) due to the special housing structures in the Lushan area. The most commonly used procedure was suture and dressings (33.7%), followed by open reduction and internal fixation (21.9%).The results of this study help formulate recommendations to improve future disaster relief and emergency planning in remote, isolated, and rural regions of developing countries.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health2015, 12(9), 10700-10722; doi:10.3390/ijerph120910700 (registering DOI) - published 31 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Human activity is having multiple, inter-related effects on ecosystems. Greenhouse gas emissions persisting along current trajectories threaten to significantly alter human society. At 0.85 °C of anthropogenic warming, deleterious human impacts are acutely evident. Additional warming of 0.5 °C–1.0 °C from already emitted CO2 will further intensify extreme heat and damaging storm events. Failing to sufficiently address this trend will have a heavy human toll directly and indirectly on health. Along with mitigation efforts, societal adaptation to a warmer world is imperative. Adaptation efforts need to be significantly upscaled to prepare society to lessen the public health effects of rising temperatures. Modifying societal behaviour is inherently complex and presents a major policy challenge. We propose a social systems framework for conceptualizing adaptation that maps out three domains within the adaptation policy landscape: acclimatisation, behavioural adaptation and technological adaptation, which operate at societal and personal levels. We propose that overlaying this framework on a systems approach to societal change planning methods will enhance governments’ capacity and efficacy in strategic planning for adaptation. This conceptual framework provides a policy oriented planning assessment tool that will help planners match interventions to the behaviours being targeted for change. We provide illustrative examples to demonstrate the framework’s application as a planning tool.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health2015, 12(9), 10687-10699; doi:10.3390/ijerph120910687 (registering DOI) - published 31 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Background: Discrimination harms immigrants’ health. The objective of this study was to analyze the association between perceived discrimination and health outcomes among first and second generation immigrants from low-income countries living in Europe, while accounting for sex and the national policy on immigration. Methods: Cross-sectional study including immigrants from low-income countries aged ≥15 years in 18 European countries (European Social Survey, 2012) (sample of 1271 men and 1335 women). The dependent variables were self-reported health, symptoms of depression, and limitation of activity. The independent variables were perceived group discrimination, immigrant background and national immigrant integration policy. We tested for association between perceived group discrimination and health outcomes by fitting robust Poisson regression models. Results: We only observed significant associations between perceived group discrimination and health outcomes in first generation immigrants. For example, depression was associated with discrimination among both men and women (Prevalence Ratio-, 1.55 (95% CI: 1.16–2.07) and 1.47 (95% CI: 1.15–1.89) in the multivariate model, respectively), and mainly in countries with assimilationist immigrant integration policies. Conclusion: Perceived group discrimination is associated with poor health outcomes in first generation immigrants from low-income countries who live in European countries, but not among their descendants. These associations are more important in assimilationist countries.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health2015, 12(9), 10671-10686; doi:10.3390/ijerph120910671 (registering DOI) - published 31 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The release of domestic sewage in water resources is a practical feature of the urbanization process, and this action causes changes that may impair the environmental balance and the water quality for several uses. The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of urbanization on the surface water quality of the Preto River throughout the town of Formosa, Goiás, Brazil. Samples were collected at five points along the river, spatially distributed from one side to the other of the town of Formosa, from May to October of 2012. Data were subjected to descriptive statistics, as well as variance and cluster analysis. Point P2, the first point after the city, showed the worst water quality indicators, mainly with respect to the total and fecal coliform parameters, as well as nitrate concentrations. These results may be related to the fact that this point is located on the outskirts of the town, an area under urbanization and with problems of sanitation, including absence of sewage collection and treatment. The data observed in this monitoring present a public health concern because the water body is used for bathing, mainly in parts of Feia Lagoon. The excess of nutrients is a strong indicator of water eutrophication and should alert decision-makers to the need for preservation policies.