Open AccessArticle
Biometeorological Assessment of Mortality Related to Extreme Temperatures in Helsinki Region, Finland, 1972–2014
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 944; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080944 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Climate change is expected to increase heat-related and decrease cold-related mortality. The extent of acclimatization of the population to gradually-changing thermal conditions is not well understood. We aimed to define the relationship between mortality and temperature extremes in different age groups in the
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Climate change is expected to increase heat-related and decrease cold-related mortality. The extent of acclimatization of the population to gradually-changing thermal conditions is not well understood. We aimed to define the relationship between mortality and temperature extremes in different age groups in the Helsinki-Uusimaa hospital district in Southern Finland, and changes in sensitivity of the population to temperature extremes over the period of 1972–2014. Time series of mortality were made stationary with a method that utilizes 365-day Gaussian smoothing, removes trends and seasonality, and gives relative mortality as the result. We used generalized additive models to examine the association of relative mortality to physiologically equivalent temperature (PET) and to air temperature in the 43-year study period and in two 21-year long sub-periods (1972–1992 and 1994–2014). We calculated the mean values of relative mortality in percentile-based categories of thermal indices. Relative mortality increases more in the hot than in the cold tail of the thermal distribution. The increase is strongest among those aged 75 years and older, but is somewhat elevated even among those younger than 65 years. Above the 99th percentile of the PET distribution, the all-aged relative mortality decreased in time from 18.3 to 8.6%. Among those ≥75 years old, the decrease in relative mortality between the sub-periods were found to be above the 90th percentile. The dependence of relative mortality on cold extremes was negligible, except among those ≥75 years old, in the latter period. Thus, heat-related mortality is also remarkable in Finland, but the sensitivity to heat stress has decreased over the decades. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Changes in Soil Microbial Community and Its Effect on Carbon Sequestration Following Afforestation on the Loess Plateau, China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 948; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080948 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Afforestation plays an important role in soil protection and ecological restoration. The objective of this study is to understand the effect of afforestation on soil carbon and soil microbial communities in the Loess Plateau of China. We measured two chemically-separated carbon fractions (i.e.,
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Afforestation plays an important role in soil protection and ecological restoration. The objective of this study is to understand the effect of afforestation on soil carbon and soil microbial communities in the Loess Plateau of China. We measured two chemically-separated carbon fractions (i.e., humic acid, HA, and fulvic acid, FA) and soil microbial communities within shrublands (18-year-old Caragana korshinskii Kom (shrubland I) and 28-year-old Caragana korshinskii Kom (shrubland II)) and cropland. The size and structure of the soil microbial community was measured by phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis. The analysis of C-fractions indicated that at a depth of 0–20 cm, FA-C concentration in shrubland I and shrubland II were 1.7 times that of cropland, while HA-C had similar values across all three sites. Total PLFAs, G+ (Gram positive) bacterial, G (Gram negative) bacterial, and actinobacterial PLFAs were highest in shrubland II, followed by shrubland I and finally cropland. Fungal PLFAs were significantly higher in shrubland II compared to the other sites. Additionally, we found a high degree of synergy between main microbial groups (apart from fungi) with FA-C. We concluded that planting C. korshinskii in abandoned cropland could alter the size and structure of soil microbial community, with these changes being closely related to carbon sequestration and humus formation. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
“You Think You’re Helping Them, But They’re Helping You Too”: Experiences of Scottish Male Young Offenders Participating in a Dog Training Program
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 945; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080945 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Interaction with animals can be beneficial to humans and animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) are increasingly popular in a range of contexts. Dog training programs (DTPs) are the most popular form of AAI in custodial contexts; prisoners often have multiple needs and DTPs seem to
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Interaction with animals can be beneficial to humans and animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) are increasingly popular in a range of contexts. Dog training programs (DTPs) are the most popular form of AAI in custodial contexts; prisoners often have multiple needs and DTPs seem to facilitate a diverse range of positive outcomes, including improvements in well-being, behavior, and offending behavior. However, evidence on the efficacy of prison-based DTPs is still limited and these evaluations often lack detail or methodological rigor. We examined the experiences of male young offenders (N = 70) using thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews conducted following completion of a DTP. The themes that emerged indicated a broad range of inter-related experiences and positive outcomes. The most prevalent theme related to their experiences with Dogs (including feelings and attitudes), and there were perceived improvements categorized as: Positive Effects (including mood and well-being), Motivation, Charitable Purpose, Self-Efficacy, Improved Skills, Impulsivity, and Emotional Management. These themes mapped well onto outcomes previously identified in research on DTPs, and to the program’s core aims of improving behavior, educational engagement, employability, and well-being. The diversity and nature of these themes indicates that DTPs have considerable potential to engage and benefit those individuals with multiple needs, such as young offenders, and ultimately to achieve positive long-term outcomes with significant social, health, and economic impact. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Perceived Injury Risk among Junior Cricketers: A Cross Sectional Survey
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 946; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080946 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Understanding how junior athletes perceive injury risks when participating in sport and the environment they play in is an important component of injury prevention. This study investigates how Sri Lankan junior cricketers (n = 365, aged 11–14 years, boys) perceive injury risks
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Understanding how junior athletes perceive injury risks when participating in sport and the environment they play in is an important component of injury prevention. This study investigates how Sri Lankan junior cricketers (n = 365, aged 11–14 years, boys) perceive injury risks associated with playing cricket. The study used a Sri Lankan modification of an Australian junior cricket injury risk perception survey that considered playing cricket versus other sports, different cricket playing positions and roles, and different ground conditions. The risk of playing cricket was considered to be greater than that for cycling, but lower than that for rugby and soccer. Fast-bowlers, batters facing fast-bowlers, fielding close in the field, and wicket-keeping without a helmet were perceived to pose greater risks of injury than other scenarios. Playing on hard, bumpy and/or wet ground conditions were perceived to have a high risk opposed to playing on a grass field. Fielding in the outfield and wicket-keeping to fast-bowlers whilst wearing a helmet were perceived as low risk actions. The risk perceptions of junior cricketers identified in this study, do not necessarily reflect the true injury risk in some instances. This information will inform the development of injury prevention education interventions to address these risk perceptions in junior cricketers. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Surface Sampling Collection and Culture Methods for Escherichia coli in Household Environments with High Fecal Contamination
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 947; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080947 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Empiric quantification of environmental fecal contamination is an important step toward understanding the impact that water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions have on reducing enteric infections. There is a need to standardize the methods used for surface sampling in field studies that examine fecal
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Empiric quantification of environmental fecal contamination is an important step toward understanding the impact that water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions have on reducing enteric infections. There is a need to standardize the methods used for surface sampling in field studies that examine fecal contamination in low-income settings. The dry cloth method presented in this manuscript improves upon the more commonly used swabbing technique that has been shown in the literature to have a low sampling efficiency. The recovery efficiency of a dry electrostatic cloth sampling method was evaluated using Escherichia coli and then applied to household surfaces in Iquitos, Peru, where there is high fecal contamination and enteric infection. Side-by-side measurements were taken from various floor locations within a household at the same time over a three-month period to compare for consistency of quantification of E. coli bacteria. The dry cloth sampling method in the laboratory setting showed 105% (95% Confidence Interval: 98%, 113%) E. coli recovery efficiency off of the cloths. The field application demonstrated strong agreement of side-by-side results (Pearson correlation coefficient for dirt surfaces was 0.83 (p < 0.0001) and 0.91 (p < 0.0001) for cement surfaces) and moderate agreement for results between entrance and kitchen samples (Pearson (0.53, p < 0.0001) and weighted Kappa statistic (0.54, p < 0.0001)). Our findings suggest that this method can be utilized in households with high bacterial loads using either continuous (quantitative) or categorical (semi-quantitative) data. The standardization of this low-cost, dry electrostatic cloth sampling method can be used to measure differences between households in intervention and non-intervention arms of randomized trials. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Further Evidence of a Specific Psychopathology of Addiction. Differentiation from Other Psychiatric Psychopathological Dimensions (Such as Obesity)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 943; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080943 -
Abstract
Introduction: In this study, we used a symptomatology checklist (SCL-90) to substantiate the hypothesis that Substance Use Disorder (SUD) has its own five-dimensional psychopathology. The aim of the present study was to test whether this psychopathology can be differentiated from other psychiatric
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Introduction: In this study, we used a symptomatology checklist (SCL-90) to substantiate the hypothesis that Substance Use Disorder (SUD) has its own five-dimensional psychopathology. The aim of the present study was to test whether this psychopathology can be differentiated from other psychiatric psychopathological dimensions (such as obesity). Methods: The severity and frequency of each of the five dimensions were investigated, at univariate and multivariate levels, by comparing 972 Heroin Use Disorder (HUD) patients (83.5% male, mean age 30.12 ± 6.6, range: 16–59) and 106 obese individuals (50.0% male, mean age 37.59 ± 7.6, range: 24–52). The correlations between the Body Mass Index (BMI) of obese individuals with these psychopathological dimensions were also studied. Results: Obese individuals showed higher SCL-90 total scores, global severity index scores, number of items rated positively, and positive symptoms distress index scores than HUD patients. The severity of all psychopathological dimensions was significantly higher in obese individuals. Discriminant analysis showed that Panic-Anxiety and Violence-Suicide severity were more frequent in obese patients, sufficiently so to allow differentiation between HUD (lower severity) and obese individuals (greater severity). At the reclassification level, 70.8% of obese individuals in the sample were reclassified as HUD patients. Psychopathological subtypes characterized by Panic-Anxiety and Violence-Suicide typology were more frequent in obese patients and sufficiently so as to discriminate between groups. Of obese patients, 47.2% were reclassified as HUD patients. The severity of the Worthlessness-Being Trapped dimension was sufficient to predict the BMI of obese individuals. Conclusions: Our results suggest that the five-factor psychopathology found in HUD can discriminate between HUD and obese patients, but that there is an area of overlap between the forms of psychopathology found in SUD and those found in obese patients. Full article
Open AccessReview
Trapped in Statelessness: Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 942; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080942 -
Abstract
The Rohingya people are one of the most ill-treated and persecuted refugee groups in the world, having lived in a realm of statelessness for over six generations, and who are still doing so. In recent years, more than 500,000 Rohingyas fled from Myanmar
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The Rohingya people are one of the most ill-treated and persecuted refugee groups in the world, having lived in a realm of statelessness for over six generations, and who are still doing so. In recent years, more than 500,000 Rohingyas fled from Myanmar (Burma) to neighboring countries. This article addresses the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh, with special emphasis on the living conditions of this vulnerable population. We reviewed several documents on Rohingya refugees, visited a registered refugee camp (Teknaf), collected case reports, and conducted a series of meetings with stakeholders in the Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh. A total of 33,131 registered Rohingya refugees are living in two registered camps in Cox’s Bazar, and up to 80,000 additional refugees are housed in nearby makeshift camps. Overall, the living conditions of Rohingya refugees inside the overcrowded camps remain dismal. Mental health is poor, proper hygiene conditions are lacking, malnutrition is endemic, and physical/sexual abuse is high. A concerted diplomatic effort involving Bangladesh and Myanmar, and international mediators such as the Organization of Islamic Countries and the United Nations, is urgently required to effectively address this complex situation. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Grip Strength and Its Relationship to Police Recruit Task Performance and Injury Risk: A Retrospective Cohort Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 941; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080941 -
Abstract
Suitable grip strength is a police occupational requirement. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between grip strength, task performance and injury risk in a police population. Retrospective data of police recruits (n = 169) who had undergone basic recruit
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Suitable grip strength is a police occupational requirement. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between grip strength, task performance and injury risk in a police population. Retrospective data of police recruits (n = 169) who had undergone basic recruit training were provided, including handgrip strength results, occupational task performance measures (consisting of police task simulations [SIM], tactical options [TACOPS] and marksmanship assessments) and injury records. Left hand grip strength (41.91 ± 8.29 kg) measures showed a stronger correlation than right hand grip strength (42.15 ± 8.53 kg) with all outcome measures. Recruits whose grip strength scores were lower were significantly more susceptible to failing the TACOPS occupational task assessment than those with greater grip strength scores, with significant (p ≤ 0.003) weak to moderate, positive correlations found between grip strength and TACOPS performance. A significant (p < 0.0001) correlation was found between grip strength, most notably of the left hand, and marksmanship performance, with those performing better in marksmanship having higher grip strength. Left hand grip strength was significantly associated with injury risk (r = −0.181, p = 0.018) but right hand grip strength was not. A positive association exists between handgrip strength and police recruit task performance (notably TACOPS and marksmanship) with recruits who scored poorly on grip strength being at greatest risk of occupational assessment task failure. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Assessment of Urban Ecosystem Health Based on Matter Element Analysis: A Case Study of 13 Cities in Jiangsu Province, China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 940; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080940 -
Abstract
Urban public health is an important global issue and receives public concern. The urban ecosystem health (UEH) indicator system was constructed with 27 assessment indicators selected from vigor, organization, resilience, service function, and population health, then the matter element analysis (MEA) and analytic
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Urban public health is an important global issue and receives public concern. The urban ecosystem health (UEH) indicator system was constructed with 27 assessment indicators selected from vigor, organization, resilience, service function, and population health, then the matter element analysis (MEA) and analytic hierarchy process (AHP) weighting method were used to assess the UEH of each city in Jiangsu Province during the period of 2000–2014. The results show that the overall ecosystem health status of each city shows continuous improvement. The UEH status of each city gradually transferred from poor, general, and medium condition to good and excellent condition. From the perspective of spatial distribution, the city’s UEH showing a steady status after increasing for 10 years, and their spatial variations have gradually reduced. The UEH status in Southern Jiangsu and Central Jiangsu was better than that of Northern Jiangsu Province. From each component point of view, the vigor, resilience, and population health of each city in Jiangsu Province showed a trend of continuous improvement, while the organization and service function first increased and then decreased. The common limiting factors of UEH in Jiangsu Province were Engel’s coefficient of urban households, number of beds of hospitals, health centers per 10,000 people, and total investment in the treatment of environmental pollution as percent GDP. These results help decision makers to make suitable decisions to maintain the UEH of each city in Jiangsu Province. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Taking a Stand: The Effects of Standing Desks on Task Performance and Engagement
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 939; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080939 -
Abstract
Time spent sitting is associated with negative health outcomes, motivating some individuals to adopt standing desk workstations. This study represents the first investigation of the effects of standing desk use on reading comprehension and creativity. In a counterbalanced, within-subjects design, 96 participants completed
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Time spent sitting is associated with negative health outcomes, motivating some individuals to adopt standing desk workstations. This study represents the first investigation of the effects of standing desk use on reading comprehension and creativity. In a counterbalanced, within-subjects design, 96 participants completed reading comprehension and creativity tasks while both sitting and standing. Participants self-reported their mood during the tasks and also responded to measures of expended effort and task difficulty. In addition, participants indicated whether they expected that they would perform better on work-relevant tasks while sitting or standing. Despite participants’ beliefs that they would perform worse on most tasks while standing, body position did not affect reading comprehension or creativity performance, nor did it affect perceptions of effort or difficulty. Mood was also unaffected by position, with a few exceptions: Participants exhibited greater task engagement (i.e., interest, enthusiasm, and alertness) and less comfort while standing rather than sitting. In sum, performance and psychological experience as related to task completion were nearly entirely uninfluenced by acute (~30-min) standing desk use. Full article
Open AccessArticle
A Geographical Analysis of Emergency Medical Service Calls and Extreme Heat in King County, WA, USA (2007–2012)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 937; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080937 -
Abstract
This research analyzed the relationship between extreme heat and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) calls in King County, WA, USA between 2007 and 2012, including the effect of community-level characteristics. Extreme heat thresholds for the Basic Life Support (BLS) data and the Advanced Life
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This research analyzed the relationship between extreme heat and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) calls in King County, WA, USA between 2007 and 2012, including the effect of community-level characteristics. Extreme heat thresholds for the Basic Life Support (BLS) data and the Advanced Life Support (ALS) data were found using a piecewise generalized linear model with Akaike Information Criterion (AIC). The association between heat exposure and EMS call rates was investigated using a generalized estimating equations with Poisson mean model, while adjusting for community-level indicators of poverty, impervious surface, and elderly population (65+). In addition, we examined the effect modifications of these community-level factors. Extreme-heat thresholds of 31.1 °C and 33.5 °C humidex were determined for the BLS and ALS data, respectively. After adjusting for other variables in the model, increased BLS call volume was significantly associated with occurring on a heat day (relative rate (RR) = 1.080, p < 0.001), as well as in locations with higher percent poverty (RR = 1.066, p < 0.001). No significant effect modification was identified for the BLS data on a heat day. Controlling for other variables, higher ALS call volume was found to be significantly associated with a heat day (RR = 1.067, p < 0.001), as well as in locations with higher percent impervious surface (RR = 1.015, p = 0.039), higher percent of the population 65 years or older (RR = 1.057, p = 0.005), and higher percent poverty (RR = 1.041, p = 0.016). Furthermore, percent poverty and impervious surface were found to significantly modify the relative rate of ALS call volumes between a heat day and non-heat day. We conclude that EMS call volume increases significantly on a heat day compared to non-heat day for both call types. While this study shows that there is some effect modification between the community-level variables and call volume on a heat day, further research is necessary. Our findings also suggest that with adequate power, spatially refined analyses may not be necessary to accurately estimate the extreme-heat effect on health. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
An Experiment Assessing Punitive versus Wellness Framing of a Tobacco-Free Campus Policy on Students’ Perceived Level of University Support
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 938; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080938 -
Abstract
The objective of this study was to examine how different ways of describing a hypothetical tobacco-free campus policy would impact college students’ perceived level of support from the college. In the spring of 2016, we randomized 1885 undergraduate students in a required course
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The objective of this study was to examine how different ways of describing a hypothetical tobacco-free campus policy would impact college students’ perceived level of support from the college. In the spring of 2016, we randomized 1885 undergraduate students in a required course to three message conditions in an online survey: control (no message), wellness (emphasizing promoting health and quitting support), and punitive (emphasizing consequences for violating the policy). The dependent variable was perceived organizational support. We selected items previously shown to be relevant for college students (alpha = 0.92 in our data). Given significant non-normality, we used non-parametric Kruskal-Wallis tests with pairwise comparisons to examine differences in perceived organizational support across the three conditions. We examined results by smoking status and if the participant correctly reported the message they received. We found no significant difference in perceived organizational support among students exposed to different tobacco-free campus policy announcements (p = 0.75). We also found no significant difference among smokers (p = 0.66). However, among smokers who correctly reported the message they received, we found significantly lower perceived university support (p = 0.01). Messages about tobacco-free campus policies should focus on the role of policy in supporting a healthy environment instead of punitive enforcement. Campus administrators should use caution when using message frames focusing on consequences of violating newly adopted policies. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Changes in Urinary Phthalate Metabolite Levels Before and After the Phthalate Contamination Event and Identification of Exposure Sources in a Cohort of Taiwanese Children
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 935; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080935 -
Abstract
In 2011, the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration inadvertently discovered that, for decades, manufacturers had replaced expensive natural emulsifiers in food products with diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP). We wanted to compare urinary phthalate metabolite levels of children before and after the DEHP food contamination
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In 2011, the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration inadvertently discovered that, for decades, manufacturers had replaced expensive natural emulsifiers in food products with diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP). We wanted to compare urinary phthalate metabolite levels of children before and after the DEHP food contamination event and identify source(s) of phthalate exposure in addition to the illegal food additives. In the present study, morning urine samples were collected from a cohort of 453 children in 2010 in Taipei. After the DEHP food contamination event, there were 200 cohort children left at follow-up in 2013. The geometric means (GMs) of urinary mono(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) phthalate (5OH-MEHP) levels before and after the event were 9.39 and 13.34 µg/g of creatinine, respectively, with no significant difference (p = 0.093). After the DEHP food contamination event, we found that urinary phthalate metabolite levels were significantly higher in people who frequently consumed microwave-heated food and used fragrance-containing products (p < 0.05). In addition, children who did not frequently wash hands before eating had significantly higher urinary phthalate metabolite levels than those who did (p < 0.05). These results demonstrate that urinary phthalate metabolite levels did not decrease after the DEHP food contamination event, thus, other sources must contribute to phthalate exposure in daily life. Public awareness of approaches to reducing phthalate exposure is necessary. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Identifying Key Performance Indicators for Holistic Hospital Management with a Modified DEMATEL Approach
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 934; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080934 -
Abstract
Performance analysis is an important way for hospitals to achieve higher efficiency and effectiveness in providing services to their customers. The performance of the healthcare system can be measured by many indicators, but it is difficult to improve them simultaneously due to the
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Performance analysis is an important way for hospitals to achieve higher efficiency and effectiveness in providing services to their customers. The performance of the healthcare system can be measured by many indicators, but it is difficult to improve them simultaneously due to the limited resources. A feasible way is to identify the central and influential indicators to improve healthcare performance in a stepwise manner. In this paper, we propose a hybrid multiple criteria decision making (MCDM) approach to identify key performance indicators (KPIs) for holistic hospital management. First, through integrating evidential reasoning approach and interval 2-tuple linguistic variables, various assessments of performance indicators provided by healthcare experts are modeled. Then, the decision making trial and evaluation laboratory (DEMATEL) technique is adopted to build an interactive network and visualize the causal relationships between the performance indicators. Finally, an empirical case study is provided to demonstrate the proposed approach for improving the efficiency of healthcare management. The results show that “accidents/adverse events”, “nosocomial infection”, ‘‘incidents/errors”, “number of operations/procedures” are significant influential indicators. Also, the indicators of “length of stay”, “bed occupancy” and “financial measures” play important roles in performance evaluation of the healthcare organization. The proposed decision making approach could be considered as a reference for healthcare administrators to enhance the performance of their healthcare institutions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
I Walk My Dog Because It Makes Me Happy: A Qualitative Study to Understand Why Dogs Motivate Walking and Improved Health
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 936; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080936 -
Abstract
Dog walking is a popular everyday physical activity. Dog owners are generally more active than non-owners, but some rarely walk with their dog. The strength of the dog–owner relationship is known to be correlated with dog walking, and this qualitative study investigates why.
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Dog walking is a popular everyday physical activity. Dog owners are generally more active than non-owners, but some rarely walk with their dog. The strength of the dog–owner relationship is known to be correlated with dog walking, and this qualitative study investigates why. Twenty-six interviews were combined with autoethnography of dog walking experiences. Dog walking was constructed as “for the dog”, however, owners represented their dog’s needs in a way which aligned with their own. Central to the construction of need was perceptions of dog personality and behaviour. Owners reported deriving positive outcomes from dog walking, most notably, feelings of “happiness”, but these were “contingent” on the perception that their dogs were enjoying the experience. Owner physical activity and social interaction were secondary bonuses but rarely motivating. Perceptions and beliefs of owners about dog walking were continually negotiated, depending on how the needs of the owner and dog were constructed at that time. Complex social interactions with the “significant other” of a pet can strongly motivate human health behaviour. Potential interventions to promote dog walking need to account for this complexity and the effect of the dog-owner relationship on owner mental wellbeing. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Cycle Tracks and Parking Environments in China: Learning from College Students at Peking University
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 930; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080930 -
Abstract
China has a historic system of wide cycle tracks, many of which are now encroached by cars, buses and bus stops. Even with these conditions, college students still bicycle. On campuses, students park their bikes on facilities ranging from kick-stand-plazas to caged sheds
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China has a historic system of wide cycle tracks, many of which are now encroached by cars, buses and bus stops. Even with these conditions, college students still bicycle. On campuses, students park their bikes on facilities ranging from kick-stand-plazas to caged sheds with racks, pumps and an attendant. In other countries, including Canada, some of the newer cycle tracks need to be wider to accommodate an increasing number of bicyclists. Other countries will also need to improve their bike parking, which includes garage-basement cages and two-tiered racks. China could provide lessons about cycle tracks and bike parking. This study applied the Maslow Transportation Level of Service (LOS) theory, i.e., for cycle tracks and bike parking, only after the basic needs of safety and security are met for both vehicle occupants and bicyclists can the higher needs of convenience and comfort be met. With random clustering, a self-administered questionnaire was collected from 410 students in six dormitory buildings at Peking University in Beijing and an environmental scan of bicycle parking conducted in school/office and living areas. Cycle tracks (1 = very safe/5 = very unsafe) shared with moving cars were most unsafe (mean = 4.6), followed by sharing with parked cars (4.1) or bus stop users (4.1) (p < 0.001). Close to half thought campus bike parking lacked order. The most suggested parking facilities were sheds, security (guard or camera), bicycle racks and bicycle parking services (pumps, etc.). If parking were improved, three quarters indicated they would bicycle more. While caged sheds were preferred, in living areas with 1597 parked bikes, caged sheds were only 74.4% occupied. For the future of China’s wide cycle tracks, perhaps a fence-separated bus lane beside a cycle track might be considered or, with China’s recent increase in bike riding, shared bikes and E-bikes, perhaps cars/buses could be banned from the wide cycle tracks. In other countries, a widened cycle track entrance should deter cars. Everywhere, bike parking sheds could be built and redesigned with painted lines to offer more space and order, similar to car parking. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Urinary Levels of 4-Nonylphenol and 4-t-Octylphenol in a Representative Sample of the Korean Adult Population
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 932; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080932 -
Abstract
4-Nonylphenol (4-NP) and 4-t-octylphenol (4-t-OP) are xenoestrogen compounds to which humans are exposed via contaminated food, water, and air. This study assessed the body burden of 4-NP and 4-t-OP in Koreans aged 18–69 years using data from the Korean National Human Biomonitoring Survey
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4-Nonylphenol (4-NP) and 4-t-octylphenol (4-t-OP) are xenoestrogen compounds to which humans are exposed via contaminated food, water, and air. This study assessed the body burden of 4-NP and 4-t-OP in Koreans aged 18–69 years using data from the Korean National Human Biomonitoring Survey conducted in 2009. Based on data from 1865 representative Koreans, 83.2% and 91.8% had urinary 4-NP and 4-t-OP concentrations >0.05 ng/mL (limit of detection). Of the Korean adult population, the geometric mean urinary concentrations of 4-NP and 4-t-OP were 3.70 ng/mL (95% confidence interval (CI) = 3.20–4.27) and 0.60 ng/mL (95% CI = 0.55–0.66), respectively. Urine 4-NP concentrations were significantly associated with place of residence and smoking status, whereas urine 4-t-OP concentrations were not correlated with any of the demographic factors. These findings suggest that most Koreans have detectable levels of 4-NP and 4-t-OP in their urine and that the body burden of 4-NP, but not 4-t-OP, varies according to some demographic factors. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Odorous Compounds from Poultry Manure Induce DNA Damage, Nuclear Changes, and Decrease Cell Membrane Integrity in Chicken Liver Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 933; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080933 -
Abstract
Animal breeding and management of organic wastes pose a serious problem to the health of livestock and workers, as well as the nearby residents. The aim of the present study was to determine the mechanisms of toxicity of selected common odorous compounds from
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Animal breeding and management of organic wastes pose a serious problem to the health of livestock and workers, as well as the nearby residents. The aim of the present study was to determine the mechanisms of toxicity of selected common odorous compounds from poultry manure, including ammonia, dimethylamine (DMA), trimethylamine (TMA), butyric acid, phenol, and indole. We measured their genotoxic and cytotoxic activity in the model chicken cell line (LMH), in vitro, by comet assay and lactate dehydrogenase assay, respectively. We also made microscopic observations of any morphological changes in these cells by DAPI staining. Four compounds, namely ammonia, DMA, TMA, and butyric acid increased DNA damage in a dose-dependent manner (p < 0.05), reaching genotoxicity as high as 73.2 ± 1.9%. Phenol and indole induced extensive DNA damage independent of the concentration used. Ammonia, DMA, and TMA caused a dose-dependent release of lactate dehydrogenase (p < 0.05). The IC50 values were 0.02%, 0.05%, and 0.1% for DMA, ammonia and TMA, respectively. These compounds also induced nuclear morphological changes, such as chromatin condensation, shrinkage, nuclear fragmentation (apoptotic bodies), and chromatin lysis. Our study exhibited the damaging effects of odorous compounds in chick LMH cell line. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Population-Based Study on the Effect of a Forest Environment on Salivary Cortisol Concentration
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 931; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080931 -
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of a forest environment on salivary cortisol concentration, particularly on the characteristics of its distribution. The participants were 348 young male subjects. The experimental sites were 34 forests and 34 urban areas across
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The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of a forest environment on salivary cortisol concentration, particularly on the characteristics of its distribution. The participants were 348 young male subjects. The experimental sites were 34 forests and 34 urban areas across Japan. The subjects viewed the landscape (forest or urban environment) for a period of 15 min while sitting in a chair. Saliva was sampled from the participants at the end of this 15-min period and then analyzed for cortisol concentration. Differences in the skewness and kurtosis of the distributions between the two environments were tested by performing a permutation test. The cortisol concentrations exhibited larger skewness (0.76) and kurtosis (3.23) in a forest environment than in an urban environment (skewness = 0.49; kurtosis = 2.47), and these differences were statistically significant. The cortisol distribution exhibited a more peaked and longer right-tailed curve in a forest environment than in an urban environment. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Drinking Water Uranium and Potential Health Effects in the German Federal State of Bavaria
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 927; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080927 -
Abstract
Mainly due to its nephrotoxic and osteotoxic potential, uranium (U) increasingly finds itself in the spotlight of environmental and health-related research. Germany decided on a binding U guideline value in drinking water of 10 µg/L, valid since 2011. It is yet widely unknown
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Mainly due to its nephrotoxic and osteotoxic potential, uranium (U) increasingly finds itself in the spotlight of environmental and health-related research. Germany decided on a binding U guideline value in drinking water of 10 µg/L, valid since 2011. It is yet widely unknown if and how public health was affected by elevated U concentrations before that. In this ecological study we summarized available drinking water U data for the German federal state of Bavaria (703 analyses in total for 553 different municipalities) at county level (for 76 out of 96 Bavarian counties, representing about 83% of Bavaria’s and about 13% of Germany’s total population) in terms of mean and maximum U concentration. Bavaria is known to regionally exhibit mainly geogenically elevated groundwater U with a maximum value of 40 µg/L in the database used here. Public health data were obtained from federal statistical authorities at county resolution. These included incidence rates of diagnosed diseases suspected to be potentially associated with chronic U uptake, e.g., diseases of the skeleton, the liver or the thyroid as well as tumor and genito-urinary diseases. The datasets were analyzed for interrelations and mutual spatial occurrence using statistical approaches and GIS as well as odds ratios and relative risks calculations. Weak but significant positive associations between maximum U concentrations and aggregated ICD-10 diagnose groups for growths/tumors as well as liver diseases were observed, elevated incidence rates of thyroid diseases seem to occur where mean drinking water U concentrations exceed 2 µg/L. Here, we discuss obtained results and their implications for potential impacts of hydrochemistry on public health in southeast Germany. Full article
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