Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health2015, 12(4), 4306-4320; doi:10.3390/ijerph120404306 (registering DOI) - published 17 April 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Considering the wide growth of the wind turbine market over the last decade as well as their increasing power size, more and more potential conflicts have arisen in society due to the noise radiated by these plants. Our goal was to determine whether the annoyance caused by wind farms is related to aspects other than noise. To accomplish this, an auditory experiment on the recognition of wind turbine noise was conducted to people with long experience of wind turbine noise exposure and to people with no previous experience to this type of noise source. Our findings demonstrated that the trend of the auditory recognition is the same for the two examined groups, as far as the increase of the distance and the decrease of the values of sound equivalent levels and loudness are concerned. Significant differences between the two groups were observed as the distance increases. People with wind turbine noise experience showed a higher tendency to report false alarms than people without experience.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health2015, 12(4), 4292-4305; doi:10.3390/ijerph120404292 (registering DOI) - published 17 April 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Changes in ecological vulnerability were analyzed for Northern Shaanxi, China using a geographic information system (GIS). An evaluation model was developed using a spatial principal component analysis (SPCA) model containing land use, soil erosion, topography, climate, vegetation and social economy variables. Using this model, an ecological vulnerability index was computed for the research region. Using natural breaks classification (NBC), the evaluation results were divided into five types: potential, slight, light, medium and heavy. The results indicate that there is greater than average optimism about the conditions of the study region, and the ecological vulnerability index (EVI) of the southern eight counties is lower than that of the northern twelve counties. From 1997 to 2011, the ecological vulnerability index gradually decreased, which means that environmental security was gradually enhanced, although there are still some places that have gradually deteriorated over the past 15 years. In the study area, government and economic factors and precipitation are the main reasons for the changes in ecological vulnerability.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health2015, 12(4), 4275-4291; doi:10.3390/ijerph120404275 (registering DOI) - published 17 April 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing rapid urbanisation and many urban residents use groundwater where piped supplies are intermittent or unavailable. This study aimed to investigate long-term changes in groundwater contamination hazards and hand-dug well water quality in two informal settlements in Kisumu city, Kenya. Buildings, pit latrines, and wells were mapped in 1999 and 2013–2014. Sanitary risk inspection and water quality testing were conducted at 51 hand-dug wells in 2002 to 2004 and 2014. Pit latrine density increased between 1999 and 2014, whilst sanitary risk scores for wells increased between 2002 to 2004 and 2014 (n = 37, Z = −1.98, p = 0.048). Nitrate levels dropped from 2004 to 2014 (n = 14, Z = −3.296, p = 0.001), but multivariate analysis suggested high rainfall in 2004 could account for this. Thermotolerant coliform counts dropped between 2004 and 2014, with this reduction significant in one settlement. Hand-dug wells had thus remained an important source of domestic water between 1999 and 2014, but contamination risks increased over this period. Water quality trends were complex, but nitrate levels were related to both sanitary risks and rainfall. Given widespread groundwater use by the urban poor in sub-Saharan Africa, the study protocol could be further refined to monitor contamination in hand-dug wells in similar settings.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health2015, 12(4), 4256-4274; doi:10.3390/ijerph120404256 (registering DOI) - published 17 April 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Background: An established relationship exists between public transportation (PT) use and physical activity. However, there is limited literature that examines the link between PT use and active commuting (AC) behavior. This study examines this link to determine if PT users commute more by active modes. Methods: A volunteer, convenience sample of adults (n = 748) completed an online survey about AC/PT patterns, demographic, psychosocial, community and environmental factors. t-test compared differences between PT riders and non-PT riders. Binary logistic regression analyses examined the effect of multiple factors on AC and a full logistic regression model was conducted to examine AC. Results: Non-PT riders (n = 596) reported less AC than PT riders. There were several significant relationships with AC for demographic, interpersonal, worksite, community and environmental factors when considering PT use. The logistic multivariate analysis for included age, number of children and perceived distance to work as negative predictors and PT use, feelings of bad weather and lack of on-street bike lanes as a barrier to AC, perceived behavioral control and spouse AC were positive predictors. Conclusions: This study revealed the complex relationship between AC and PT use. Further research should investigate how AC and public transit use are related.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health2015, 12(4), 4247-4255; doi:10.3390/ijerph120404247 (registering DOI) - published 17 April 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: There is a significant positive relationship between exposure to forest environments and physical and mental health. However, there are individual differences within these responses, and this phenomenon has posed questions in various fields. Here, we show that the physiological effect of a forest environment can differ depending on a subject’s initial values and that forests have a physiological adjustment effect close to an appropriate level. Subjects with high initial blood pressure and pulse rate showed a decrease in these values after walking in a forested area, whereas those with low initial values showed an increase. There was no physiological adjustment effect observed in an urban area; thus, these effects are specific to a forest environment.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health2015, 12(4), 4231-4246; doi:10.3390/ijerph120404231 - published 16 April 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Background: Antimicrobial resistance in microorganisms are on the increase worldwide and are responsible for substantial cases of therapeutic failures. Resistance of species of Enterococcus to antibiotics is linked to their ability to acquire and disseminate antimicrobial resistance determinants in nature, and wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are considered to be one of the main reservoirs of such antibiotic resistant bacteria. We therefore determined the antimicrobial resistance and virulence profiles of some common Enterococcus spp that are known to be associated with human infections that were recovered from hospital wastewater and final effluent of the receiving wastewater treatment plant in Alice, Eastern Cape. Methods: Wastewater samples were simultaneously collected from two sites (Victoria hospital and final effluents of a municipal WWTP) in Alice at about one to two weeks interval during the months of July and August 2014. Samples were screened for the isolation of enterococci using standard microbiological methods. The isolates were profiled molecularly after targeted generic identification and speciation for the presence of virulence and antibiotic resistance genes. Results: Out of 66 presumptive isolates, 62 were confirmed to belong to the Enterococcus genusof which 30 were identified to be E. faecalis and 15 E. durans. The remaining isolates were not identified by the primers used in the screening procedure. Out of the six virulence genes that were targeted only three of them; ace,efaA, and gelE were detected. There was a very high phenotypic multiple resistance among the isolates and these were confirmed by genetic analyses. Conclusions: Analyses of the results obtained indicated that hospital wastewater may be one of the sources of antibiotic resistant bacteria to the receiving WWTP. Also, findings revealed that the final effluent discharged into the environment was contaminated with multi-resistant enterococci species thus posing a health hazard to the receiving aquatic environment as these could eventually be transmitted to humans and animals that are exposed to it.