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Environments, Volume 10, Issue 12 (December 2023) – 27 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): The excessive excretion of nitrogen (N) by farm animals can pose severe environmental risks; hence, continuous monitoring of N excretion is imperative. In the present study, near-infrared reflectance (NIR) spectra of wet feces were employed to construct chemometric models for the prediction of N digestibility using artificial neural networks (ANNs). The objective was to develop a real-time, in situ, intelligent tool to monitor fecal N excretion using the rabbit as the animal model. Our results indicated that the combined use of NIR and ANN produced highly accurate models to predict N digestibility and, in conjunction with feed intake data, can precisely estimate fecal N excretion to the environment. View this paper
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34 pages, 556 KiB  
Review
Fog Water: A General Review of Its Physical and Chemical Aspects
Environments 2023, 10(12), 224; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120224 - 18 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1474
Abstract
Studies concerning fog water have been rapidly increasing due to its negative impacts on different environmental processes. However, fog water harvesting has become beneficial in various countries to overcome water scarcity. Accurate fog forecasting remains a challenging issue due to its spatio-temporal variability [...] Read more.
Studies concerning fog water have been rapidly increasing due to its negative impacts on different environmental processes. However, fog water harvesting has become beneficial in various countries to overcome water scarcity. Accurate fog forecasting remains a challenging issue due to its spatio-temporal variability and uncertainties despite the development and efforts made to understand its chemistry and microphysics. The literature proved that the decrease in fog frequency over time in most countries is mainly attributed to the improvement in air quality or the change in regional climatic conditions. The current fog review summarizes its different types and collectors, life cycle, and impacts, the effects of aerosols, and the latest results concerning its forecast challenges and frequency. It also highlights the major chemical processes along with the main field studies performed on fog water. The aim of this work is not to provide a criticism about fog but to present a general comprehensive review of its physical and chemical aspects covering up to 330 research and review papers aimed to serve as a basis for new challenges and findings about fog water. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Review Papers in Environments)
23 pages, 9380 KiB  
Article
Fugitive Dust Associated with Scrap Metal Processing
Environments 2023, 10(12), 223; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120223 - 14 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1829
Abstract
Fugitive dust (FD) is a nuisance and potential health issue, particularly in environmental justice communities that can experience high levels of contaminated FD. This community-initiated study examined FD from a scrap metal processor in Detroit, Michigan, to determine whether the FD was contaminated, [...] Read more.
Fugitive dust (FD) is a nuisance and potential health issue, particularly in environmental justice communities that can experience high levels of contaminated FD. This community-initiated study examined FD from a scrap metal processor in Detroit, Michigan, to determine whether the FD was contaminated, how it migrated through the community, whether wipe or composite road dust samples were preferable, and whether literature profiles adequately characterized this source. The study was motivated by community concerns, as well as a massive subsidence/upheaval event resulting from excessive accumulation of mill scale, which is a type of scrap metal, at the facility. We collected 57 wipe samples from windows and other surfaces, and 20 composite road dust and surface soil samples, which were analyzed by X-ray fluorescence. Concentrations were expressed using the fraction of the reconstructed mass. We also compared results to air quality monitoring data and calculated pollution indices and enrichment factors. Samples collected near the processor had high levels of Cr, Cu, Fe, Ni, Sr, and Zn compared with background soils, and levels remained elevated in residential areas several blocks distant. Composite road dust/sediment samples appeared preferable to wipe samples for chemical characterization. The available chemical profiles did not match the FD composition, suggesting the need for local profiles. The high level of Fe, which is consistent with mill scale, was a novel finding and caused the road dust to exceed health protection screening levels. Numerous metal scrap facilities operate locally and nationally, and our results show the need to improve controls to limit or eliminate FD emissions from industrial sources using enforced policies that reduce dust generation and truck track-out. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Air Pollution in Urban and Industrial Areas II)
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12 pages, 4732 KiB  
Article
Migration of Artificial Turf Fibers from Artificial Turf Sports Field and Their Ingestion by Goldfish
Environments 2023, 10(12), 222; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120222 - 13 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1187
Abstract
Various artificial materials and facilities are sources of microplastics, including artificial turf sports fields. In artificial turf fields, polyethylene fibers are attached to a basal cloth with adhesives. In the present study, we investigated whether the fibers in the field were detached from [...] Read more.
Various artificial materials and facilities are sources of microplastics, including artificial turf sports fields. In artificial turf fields, polyethylene fibers are attached to a basal cloth with adhesives. In the present study, we investigated whether the fibers in the field were detached from the basal cloth or torn in the field, and whether they moved to the surrounding ditches that were connected to sewage pipes. In the field, we collected fibers shorter in length compared to the original and these were free from basal cloth, indicating the tearing of the fibers due to players’ activities. We also collected fibers from the ditches, which indicated a migration of the fibers from the field into the ditches. These results suggest that the fibers in ditches could enter sewage treatment plants and be released into the aquatic environment as microplastics. We also examined whether goldfish, Carassius auratus, ingested these fibers, and observed that the fish ingested them with feed while the fish did not without feed. These results indicate that the fiber ingestion by the fish occurred unintentionally when they swallowed their feed. The present study demonstrated that artificial turf fibers in sports fields could turn into microplastics that can be ingested by wild fishes. Full article
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12 pages, 266 KiB  
Article
From Global Health to Global Warming: Tracing Climate Change Interest during the First Two Years of COVID-19 Using Google Trends Data from the United States
Environments 2023, 10(12), 221; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120221 - 13 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1193
Abstract
Climate change mitigation depends on actions that affect the public interest and lead to widespread changes in public attitudes and behavior. With the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, humanity faced a more imminent threat to its well-being and viability. This retrospective cross-sectional [...] Read more.
Climate change mitigation depends on actions that affect the public interest and lead to widespread changes in public attitudes and behavior. With the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, humanity faced a more imminent threat to its well-being and viability. This retrospective cross-sectional study examines how public interest in climate change was attenuated by the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic using Google Trends Search Volume Index (SVI), weather, and climate data on a United States state-level basis during the first two years of the pandemic from 2020 to 2022. To identify channels through which the COVID-19 pandemic affected information demand on climate change, a novel fixed effect regression model of public climate change interest was developed. The measure captures changes in the climate change SVI independent of weather and climate conditions, comprising pandemic-related changes in living circumstances such as COVID-19-related cases and deaths, mask mandates, and the proportion of the vaccinated population. Our results indicate that public interest in climate change was systematically attenuated by the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, this study provides an approach for identifying drivers of public interest in climate change. Full article
15 pages, 506 KiB  
Review
A Comprehensive Review of Risk Assessments of Organic Effluents in Car Workshops
Environments 2023, 10(12), 220; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120220 - 13 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1229
Abstract
Water is an essential resource for the functioning of society, where it is involved in key areas such as domestic use, agriculture, energy production, industry, and transport. Climate change exacerbates water scarcity. In the context of preserving water resources, effluents from the automobile [...] Read more.
Water is an essential resource for the functioning of society, where it is involved in key areas such as domestic use, agriculture, energy production, industry, and transport. Climate change exacerbates water scarcity. In the context of preserving water resources, effluents from the automobile sector need to be deeply considered due to their environmental impacts. This review focuses especially on the water effluents generated by car workshops. In car workshops, daily floor washing waters containing organic pollutants, either from vehicle components or from products used for maintenance and repair, can represent large volumes of water (between 15 L and 50 L per day) that are discharged into the wastewater system. These particular industrial organic effluents are not well characterized and can represent severe environmental risks. The aim of this review is to help automotive maintenance and repair professionals better manage these industrial organic effluents. We first describe the potential sources of organic pollution emissions in car workshops with the purpose of identifying the organic compounds to be monitored as a priority in the wash water. Then, we apply a risk prevention management tool, based on the criticality matrix, to identify products with a high risk of leaking onto the ground in order to limit organic pollutants at the source. Full article
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29 pages, 53471 KiB  
Article
A Deep Survey of Fish Health for the Recognition of Useful Biomarkers to Monitor Water Pollution
Environments 2023, 10(12), 219; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120219 - 11 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1558
Abstract
The aim of the present study was to evaluate the wild freshwater fish health status using a vast array of biomarkers as predictive factors of pollutant exposure. The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) and brown trout (Salmo trutta fario), resident [...] Read more.
The aim of the present study was to evaluate the wild freshwater fish health status using a vast array of biomarkers as predictive factors of pollutant exposure. The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) and brown trout (Salmo trutta fario), resident in rivers with different degrees of pollution in the South of Italy (Picentino River with good environmental quality and Tusciano River with low environmental quality), were examined using biometric parameters, histopathological and immunohistochemical biomarkers to evaluate the health status and a possible correlation with the water quality. Several alterations identified in the liver positively correlated with water and soil pollutants: hemorrhage (p ≤ 0.05), cytoplasmic vacuolization (p ≤ 0.01), hemosiderosis (p ≤ 0.05), irregular arrangement of hepatocytes (p ≤ 0.01), lipid accumulation (p ≤ 0.05), necrosis (p ≤ 0.01), cellular hyperplasia (p ≤ 0.05), leukocyte infiltration (p ≤ 0.01) and melanomacrophages centers (MMC) (p ≤ 0.01). In the spleen, only hemosiderosis correlated with water and soil pollutants (p ≤ 0.05). The inflammatory biomarker tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) and ciclooxigenase 2 (COX2) responded to the environmental pollution, as well as the oxidative stress biomarkers superoxide dismutase (SOD2) and 8-Hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG). Erythrocytic nuclear abnormalities and erythrocytic cellular abnormalities were found to be significantly higher in the blood of both the European eel (p < 0.0001) and brown trout (p < 0.001) in the Tusciano River compared with the Picentino River. Taken together, these results outline the need to increase the number of suitable biomarkers to assess fish health and reinforce the importance of employing additional biomarkers in biomonitoring programs that can be applied to evaluate water quality and in environmental assessment around the world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Risk Assessment of Aquatic Ecosystem)
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14 pages, 5954 KiB  
Article
A Framework for the Estimation of Air Quality by Applying Meteorological Images: Colours-of-the-Wind (COLD)
Environments 2023, 10(12), 218; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120218 - 11 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1147
Abstract
This paper presents a new framework, “colours-of-the-wind” (COLD), which is designed to estimate air quality based on images from meteorological cameras, data analytics techniques, and the application of deep learning. Existing air quality estimation systems mainly rely on physical monitoring stations, which are [...] Read more.
This paper presents a new framework, “colours-of-the-wind” (COLD), which is designed to estimate air quality based on images from meteorological cameras, data analytics techniques, and the application of deep learning. Existing air quality estimation systems mainly rely on physical monitoring stations, which are limited by the monitoring stations’ physical constraints. Instead of collecting data from environmental monitoring stations, COLD collects air quality data from meteorological cameras. This approach can collect data from any location where a camera could capture a reliable image, which is otherwise not collectable by the physical environmental monitoring station(s). This approach can also avoid bias due to the location of data collection. The system is evaluated by building a prototype based on the Air Quality Health Index from the Hong Kong Observatory. This is one of the unique data-analytic frameworks based on such air quality measurement. The COLD’s air quality estimation is also based on AQHI, the first machine learning-based estimation framework that generates AQHI as the proposed output. Experimental results suggest that the approach adopted by the COLD prototype is feasible and has some promising outcomes. The results also suggest possible parameters for the CNN model used for the training and analyses of the images. Full article
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24 pages, 7118 KiB  
Article
New Graph-Based and Transformer Deep Learning Models for River Dissolved Oxygen Forecasting
Environments 2023, 10(12), 217; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120217 - 11 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1314
Abstract
Dissolved oxygen (DO) is a key indicator of water quality and the health of an aquatic ecosystem. Aspiring to reach a more accurate forecasting approach for DO levels of natural streams, the present work proposes new graph-based and transformer-based deep learning models. The [...] Read more.
Dissolved oxygen (DO) is a key indicator of water quality and the health of an aquatic ecosystem. Aspiring to reach a more accurate forecasting approach for DO levels of natural streams, the present work proposes new graph-based and transformer-based deep learning models. The models were trained and validated using a network of real-time hydrometric and water quality monitoring stations for the Credit River Watershed, Ontario, Canada, and the results were compared with both benchmarking and state-of-the-art approaches. The proposed new Graph Neural Network Sample and Aggregate (GNN-SAGE) model was the best-performing approach, reaching coefficient of determination (R2) and root mean squared error (RMSE) values of 97% and 0.34 mg/L, respectively, when compared with benchmarking models. The findings from the Shapley additive explanations (SHAP) indicated that the GNN-SAGE benefited from spatiotemporal information from the surrounding stations, improving the model’s results. Furthermore, temperature has been found to be a major input attribute for determining future DO levels. The results established that the proposed GNN-SAGE model outperforms the accuracy of existing models for DO forecasting, with great potential for real-time water quality management in urban watersheds. Full article
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21 pages, 1369 KiB  
Article
Why Do Farmers Over-Extract Groundwater Resources? Assessing (Un)sustainable Behaviors Using an Integrated Agent-Centered Framework
Environments 2023, 10(12), 216; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120216 - 05 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1604
Abstract
This study uses an Integrated Agent-Centered (IAC) framework to investigate the socio-psychological drivers of Iranian farmers’ unsustainable groundwater management practices. Empirical land use change analysis of US Geological Survey Landsat satellite images of the Jaz-Murian wetland region for 1990, 2010, and 2022, is [...] Read more.
This study uses an Integrated Agent-Centered (IAC) framework to investigate the socio-psychological drivers of Iranian farmers’ unsustainable groundwater management practices. Empirical land use change analysis of US Geological Survey Landsat satellite images of the Jaz-Murian wetland region for 1990, 2010, and 2022, is combined with community surveys conducted with randomly selected farmers in five townships within the region (n = 356). Visual analysis reveals dramatic increases in agricultural land coverage, diminished water bodies, and increased salt lands over the 32-year sampled period. We use survey data to explain the socio-psychological drivers of unsustainable groundwater use that lead to these adverse environmental changes. In the IAC survey analysis, we find that variables for “expectation” and “subjective culture” have a negative influence on pro-environmental “intention”. “Intention” and “habit” have a positive influence and “contextual factors” have a negative influence on the drivers of “unsustainable water use behavior”. We conclude that situational influences, habitual process, intentional process, and normative processes must be considered together to alleviate pressure on wetland ecosystems. Policy makers must provide effective agricultural extension training, deliberative dialogue amongst farmer networks, well-governed local water markets and financial support to shift farmer short-termist economic gain-thinking towards socially-supported pro-environmental habits over the longer term. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Groundwater Protection and Management)
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12 pages, 1462 KiB  
Article
Coupled Photocatalysis and Microalgal–Bacterial Synergy System for Continuously Treating Aquaculture Wastewater Containing Real Phthalate Esters
Environments 2023, 10(12), 215; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120215 - 05 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1220
Abstract
We developed a system combining visible-light photocatalysis with biological treatment for the continuous removal of phthalate esters (PAEs) from both synthetic and real aquaculture wastewater. We investigated the effects of different operating factors, including the coexistence of glucose or PAEs, on individual PAE [...] Read more.
We developed a system combining visible-light photocatalysis with biological treatment for the continuous removal of phthalate esters (PAEs) from both synthetic and real aquaculture wastewater. We investigated the effects of different operating factors, including the coexistence of glucose or PAEs, on individual PAE removal by using a photobiological system (PBS). In wastewater containing a mixture of PAEs, that is, containing di-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and dimethyl phthalate (DMP), a coimmobilized bioreactor system comprising the bacterium Pseudomonas putida and the microalga Chlorella vulgaris demonstrated a higher removal efficiency than immobilized P. putida alone or a coculture of immobilized P. putida and suspended C. vulgaris did. The PBS employed for the continuous treatment of real aquaculture wastewater containing DEHP (0.62 ± 0.05 mg/L), DBP (8.7 ± 0.9 mg/L), and DMP (17.4 ± 1.5 mg/L) achieved at least 99.5% PAE removal and 99.2% mineralization efficiency under optimal operating conditions. After 42 days of treatment, inoculated Pseudomonas (98.12%) remained the predominant genus in the bioreactor. The results reveal that the symbiotic microalgal–bacterial system is a feasible alternative to a pure P. putida immobilized bioreactor for reducing CO2 emissions from mineralized PAEs through microalgal activity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photocatalytic Applications in Wastewater Treatment)
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12 pages, 1530 KiB  
Article
Regeneration of Impregnated Activated Carbon after Aging
Environments 2023, 10(12), 214; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120214 - 04 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1268
Abstract
Impregnated activated carbon (IAC) is an efficient adsorbent for the filtration of hazardous gases from the air. However, it tends to lose its efficiency after exposure to high humidity, where it adsorbs water molecules. Water adsorption causes changes in metal impregnation, resulting in [...] Read more.
Impregnated activated carbon (IAC) is an efficient adsorbent for the filtration of hazardous gases from the air. However, it tends to lose its efficiency after exposure to high humidity, where it adsorbs water molecules. Water adsorption causes changes in metal impregnation, resulting in a loss of adsorption efficiency for certain toxic gases, particularly gases that are adsorbed via chemisorption. Here, an innovative method was developed for the regeneration and reactivation of aged IAC. The method is based on dripping a regeneration solution composed of ammonium hydroxide and ammonium carbonate onto the aged IAC. The developed regeneration method was applied to ASZMT, a common commercially used IAC, that had undergone accelerated aging for six months. After the regeneration process, the protection capacity of the IAC against cyanogen chloride (CK) and toluene was almost fully restored to its initial value. Elemental analysis by energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) showed that after the regeneration procedure, the concentrations of zinc and copper on the external surface of the IAC were decreased. This provides evidence that they were partially incorporated back into the pores. It is reasonable to believe that the developed method can be applied to IACs other than ASZMT impregnated with different kinds of materials. The implementation of this method has economic and environmental consequences. In the future, it may allow the reuse of aged IAC and even the restoration of filters. Full article
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12 pages, 543 KiB  
Article
Environmental Impact Assessment of Plastic Waste Management Scenarios in the Canadian Context
Environments 2023, 10(12), 213; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120213 - 04 Dec 2023
Viewed by 2040
Abstract
Given the scale of plastic generation, its persistent presence in the environment, and the urgent need to transition to a net-zero emissions paradigm, managing plastic waste has gained increasing attention globally. Developing an effective strategy for plastic waste management requires a comprehensive assessment [...] Read more.
Given the scale of plastic generation, its persistent presence in the environment, and the urgent need to transition to a net-zero emissions paradigm, managing plastic waste has gained increasing attention globally. Developing an effective strategy for plastic waste management requires a comprehensive assessment of the potential benefits offered by different solutions, particularly with respect to their environmental impact. This study employs the life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology to evaluate the environmental impact of two alternative scenarios to the As-Is scenario for managing plastic waste in the province of British Columbia in Canada. The LCA results suggest that the Zero Plastic Waste scenario, which heavily relies on chemical recycling, may not inherently result in a reduced environmental footprint across all impact categories. This is notable when the focus is solely on end-of-life treatment processes, without considering the produced products and energy. The Intermediate scenario reduces the amount of plastic waste sent to landfills by directing more end-of-life plastic to mechanical recycling facilities. This scenario provides immediate benefits for resource conservation, with a minimal increase in the environmental burden resulting from treatment processes. Nonetheless, achieving a net-zero transition requires combining traditional and emerging recycling technologies. The current study could offer some guidance to policymakers on strategies for fostering more sustainable management of plastic waste. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Trends and Innovations in Environmental Impact Assessment)
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18 pages, 15995 KiB  
Article
The Use of Satellite Synthetic Aperture Radar Imagery to Assist in the Monitoring of the Time Evolution of Challenging Coastal Environments: A Case Study of the Basilicata Coast
Environments 2023, 10(12), 212; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120212 - 03 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1403
Abstract
This study focuses on a very complex environment, namely the Ionian coast of the Basilicata region, Southern Italy, which includes different kinds of beaches, river mouths and built-up areas. This complex environment is used as a test case to analyze the time variability [...] Read more.
This study focuses on a very complex environment, namely the Ionian coast of the Basilicata region, Southern Italy, which includes different kinds of beaches, river mouths and built-up areas. This complex environment is used as a test case to analyze the time variability of the coastline using measurements that were remotely sensed by the satellite European Copernicus Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) mission. First, the accuracy of the coastline, extracted by the SAR, is discussed with respect to finer-spatial-resolution drone-based light detection and ranging (LIDAR) measurements. Then, a time series of SAR dual-polarimetric measurements acquired by the European Copernicus mission is used to discuss the time variability of the coastline of the area of interest in a time period spanning from 2015 to 2021. The experimental results show that the accuracy of the SAR-based coastline is better than 15 m, which is reasonably good precision for monitoring the erosion/accretion processes that characterize the area of interest at a moderate scale. The estimated time variability of the extracted coastline suggests a dominant erosion process, which is always within 60 m. Full article
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14 pages, 10022 KiB  
Article
Monitoring of Coastal Dunes and Lagoons: Important Ecosystems to Safeguard
Environments 2023, 10(12), 211; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120211 - 03 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1256
Abstract
The coast of the Province of Brindisi, located in the south of Italy, is characterised by a large network of wetlands and coastal dunes of great ecological importance. These represent important habitats for flora and fauna, serving as feeding, breeding and migration areas [...] Read more.
The coast of the Province of Brindisi, located in the south of Italy, is characterised by a large network of wetlands and coastal dunes of great ecological importance. These represent important habitats for flora and fauna, serving as feeding, breeding and migration areas for many bird species. Unfortunately, the state of health of some of these species is subject to various threats that put the ecological balance and local biodiversity at risk. It is essential to conduct regular and thorough monitoring over time to fully understand the presence of impacts on these ecosystems and to quickly take all necessary corrective measures to counter their main human-made threats, such as excessive urbanisation. This work reports the methods and results of the monitoring carried out along coastal dunes and a lagoon to identify their state of health and assess the presence of threatening factors capable of negatively altering their naturalness. The results indicate a situation of degradation affecting the coastal dunes but a good quality of the water resource. The study area is not currently affected by continuous monitoring programs and, therefore, we believe it is necessary to start a process in this sense, given the high naturalistic and historical value of the area. Finally, indications are provided to implement conservation measures to protect and preserve these precious coastal habitats, ensuring their survival for future generations. Full article
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12 pages, 601 KiB  
Article
Real-Time Monitoring of Fecal Nitrogen Excretion to the Environment Using Near-Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy: A Preliminary Study in Rabbits
Environments 2023, 10(12), 210; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120210 - 01 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1183
Abstract
The excessive excretion of nitrogen (N) by farm animals can pose severe environmental risks. In this study, near-infrared reflectance (NIR) spectroscopy (NIRS) was used to explore the feasibility of developing a real-time in situ monitoring tool for fecal N excretion in rabbits. A [...] Read more.
The excessive excretion of nitrogen (N) by farm animals can pose severe environmental risks. In this study, near-infrared reflectance (NIR) spectroscopy (NIRS) was used to explore the feasibility of developing a real-time in situ monitoring tool for fecal N excretion in rabbits. A total of 70 feed and 282 fecal samples from an in vivo digestibility experiment were used. Feed and fecal NIR spectra were employed to develop chemometric models using modified partial least squares (MPLS) for feed and feces, and artificial neural networks (ANN) for feces to predict dietary and fecal N content and fecal N digestibility. Very good accuracy was achieved in predicting feed N (R2val = 0.96; standard error of prediction, SEP = 0.15) and fecal N (R2val = 0.88; SEP = 0.44) content, whereas N digestibility models from wet fecal spectra had a relatively low precision (R2val = 0.70; SEP = 0.018) with MPLS methodology. In contrast, ANNs yielded more robust prediction models for fecal (R2val = 0.98; SEP = 0.25) N content and N digestibility (R2val = 0.91; SEP = 0.012) using wet feces. In conclusion, NIRS calibration with ANNs can be a suitable tool for monitoring the environmental load of N with high precision and accuracy. Full article
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21 pages, 945 KiB  
Article
Two Fountains and a Changing Waterscape in Rural Greece
Environments 2023, 10(12), 209; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120209 - 01 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1333
Abstract
Water’s role in shaping human societies, economies, and cultures extends beyond its status as a natural resource. This water quality, the entanglement of the social and natural, constructs the waterscape. This paper discusses how a community fountain and its replica, in a rural [...] Read more.
Water’s role in shaping human societies, economies, and cultures extends beyond its status as a natural resource. This water quality, the entanglement of the social and natural, constructs the waterscape. This paper discusses how a community fountain and its replica, in a rural community of Greece, constructed by different agents with divergent motivations and objective, form a waterscape, expressing the socionature of water. Perceptions, imaginaries, values, and connotations are considered in the making and (dis)continuity of the waterscape. Community practices, social and cultural meanings, economy, commodification, collective work, privatisation, memory, and nostalgia are schemes that flow within the waterscape, over time. Flows and uses, livability, and emotions display diverse patterns of sense of rootedness on the community space. Full article
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15 pages, 678 KiB  
Systematic Review
Studies on Air Pollution and Air Quality in Rural and Agricultural Environments: A Systematic Review
Environments 2023, 10(12), 208; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120208 - 30 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1326
Abstract
Studies on air quality in rural environments are fundamental to obtain first-hand data for the determination of base emissions of air pollutants, to assess the impact of rural-specific airborne pollutants, to model pollutant dispersion, and to develop proper pollution mitigation technologies. The literature [...] Read more.
Studies on air quality in rural environments are fundamental to obtain first-hand data for the determination of base emissions of air pollutants, to assess the impact of rural-specific airborne pollutants, to model pollutant dispersion, and to develop proper pollution mitigation technologies. The literature lacks a systematic review based on the evaluation of the techniques and methods used for the sampling/monitoring (S/M) of atmospheric pollutants in rural and agricultural settings, which highlights the shortcomings in this field and the need for future studies. This work aims to review the study design applied for on-field monitoring campaigns of airborne pollutants in rural environments and discuss the possible needs and future developments in this field. The results of this literature review, based on the revision of 23 scientific papers, allowed us to determine (i) the basic characteristics related to the study design that should always be reported; (ii) the main techniques and analyses used in exposure assessment studies conducted in this type of setting; and (iii) contextual parameters and descriptors of the S/M site that should be considered to best support the results obtained from the different studies. Future studies carried out to monitor the airborne pollution in rural/agriculture areas should (i) include the use of multiparametric monitors for the contextual measurement of different atmospheric pollutants (as well as meteorological parameters) and (ii) consider the most important boundary information, to better characterize the S/M site. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Urban Air Pollution)
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21 pages, 6523 KiB  
Article
Bacteria and Yeasts Isolated from the Environment in Biodegradation of PS and PVC Microplastics: Screening and Treatment Optimization
Environments 2023, 10(12), 207; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120207 - 29 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1457
Abstract
Biodegradation is the most environmentally friendly and, at the same time, economically acceptable approach to removing various pollutants from the environment. However, its efficiency in removing microplastics (MPs) from the environment is generally low. The successful biodegradation of MPs requires microorganisms capable of [...] Read more.
Biodegradation is the most environmentally friendly and, at the same time, economically acceptable approach to removing various pollutants from the environment. However, its efficiency in removing microplastics (MPs) from the environment is generally low. The successful biodegradation of MPs requires microorganisms capable of producing enzymes that degrade MP polymers into compounds that the microorganisms can use as a source of carbon and energy. Therefore, scientists are screening and characterizing microorganisms that can degrade MPs more efficiently. These microorganisms are often isolated from sites contaminated with MPs because the microorganisms living there are adapted to these pollutants and should be able to better degrade MPs. In this study, five bacterial strains and five yeast strains were isolated from various environmental samples including activated sludge, compost, river sediment, and biowaste. Among them, screening was performed for bacteria and yeasts with the highest potential for the biodegradation of polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) MPs, and the bacterium Delftia acidovorans and the yeast Candida parapsilosis were identified as the best candidates. Optimization of biodegradation of the selected MPs by each of these two microorganisms was performed, focusing on the influence of cell density, agitation speed and pH of the medium. It was found that within the selected experimental ranges, high values of cell density, low agitation speed, and a slightly basic medium favored the biodegradation of PS and PVC MPs by Delftia acidovorans. In the case of Candida parapsilosis, favorable conditions also included high cell density followed by a slightly higher, but not maximum, agitation speed and a weakly acidic medium. Broad spectroscopic and imaging methods indicated that Delftia acidovorans and Candida parapsilosis better adapt to PVC MPs to use it as a carbon and energy source. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Technologies of Water and Wastewater Treatment)
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21 pages, 2442 KiB  
Article
Occurrence and Distribution of Neonicotinoid Pesticides in Chinese Waterways: A Review
Environments 2023, 10(12), 206; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120206 - 27 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1200
Abstract
Neonicotinoid pesticides (NEOs) were initially considered viable alternatives to conventional organo-pesticides extensively used in agriculture, horticulture, and households. However, the increased frequency and concentration of NEOs in waterways have drawn significant attention and concern due to the resulting threats to ecosystems and public [...] Read more.
Neonicotinoid pesticides (NEOs) were initially considered viable alternatives to conventional organo-pesticides extensively used in agriculture, horticulture, and households. However, the increased frequency and concentration of NEOs in waterways have drawn significant attention and concern due to the resulting threats to ecosystems and public health worldwide. The demand for monitoring NEOs in water has led to numerous efforts in many countries and regions. Given occurrence and distribution of these pesticides/insecticides. This study reviews NEOs monitoring in China from 2019 to 2022, aiming to gather and analyse information on China’s efforts in NEOs monitoring to provide reference for future research. The study primarily focuses on the southern and southeastern regions of China, specifically on lakes and tributaries of rivers, including Taihu Lake, Pearl River, Yangtze River, Songhua River, and Liao River. This focus can be attributed to the prioritisation and environmental demands related to the local economic status and major developmental tasks. The evaluation of the corresponding ecological risks of human exposure to NEOs ranged from low to medium-high levels. However, despite these findings, contamination from NEOs is still considered to lack sufficient attention and concern. Additionally, the presence of NEOs in other environmental media, such as indoor dust, wheat grains, vegetables, and teas, requires close attention in the future. Full article
20 pages, 3284 KiB  
Article
Oyster Reefs Are Reservoirs for Potential Pathogens in a Highly Disturbed Subtropical Estuary
Environments 2023, 10(12), 205; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120205 - 27 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1558
Abstract
Estuaries worldwide are grappling with deteriorating water quality and benthic conditions that coincide with the rising detection of pathogenic and potentially pathogenic microbes (PPM). Both indigenous PPM and those that enter estuaries through urban and agricultural runoff are funneled through suspension-feeding organisms and [...] Read more.
Estuaries worldwide are grappling with deteriorating water quality and benthic conditions that coincide with the rising detection of pathogenic and potentially pathogenic microbes (PPM). Both indigenous PPM and those that enter estuaries through urban and agricultural runoff are funneled through suspension-feeding organisms and deposited onto the benthos, where they can be moved through food webs. This study explored PPM communities in the Indian River Lagoon system, a biodiverse but urbanized estuary in east central Florida (USA). PPM were surveyed in estuary water, at stormwater outfalls, and in biodeposits of a key suspension feeder, the eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica. A total of 52 microbial exact sequence variants, with per-sample relative abundances up to 61.4%, were identified as PPM. The biodeposits contained relatively more abundant and diverse PPM than the water samples. PPM community composition also differed between seasons and between biodeposits and water. The community differences were driven primarily by Vibrio and Pseudoalteromonas spp. This investigation provides evidence that, through biodeposition, oyster reefs in the IRL estuary are a reservoir for PPM, and it documents some taxa of concern that should be conclusively identified and investigated for their pathogenicity and potential to pervade food webs and fisheries. Full article
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18 pages, 5602 KiB  
Article
Projected Climate Change Effects on Global Vegetation Growth: A Machine Learning Approach
Environments 2023, 10(12), 204; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120204 - 26 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1594
Abstract
In this study, a machine learning model was used to investigate the potential consequences of climate change on vegetation growth. The methodology involved analyzing the historical Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data and future climate projections under four Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs). Data [...] Read more.
In this study, a machine learning model was used to investigate the potential consequences of climate change on vegetation growth. The methodology involved analyzing the historical Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data and future climate projections under four Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs). Data from the Global Inventory Monitoring and Modeling System (GIMMS) dataset for the period 1981–2000 were used to train the machine learning model, while CMIP6 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6) global climate projections from 2021–2100 were employed to predict future NDVI values under different SSPs. The study results revealed that the global mean NDVI is projected to experience a significant increase from the period 1981–2000 to the period 2021–2040. Following this, the mean NDVI slightly increases under SSP126 and SSP245 while decreasing substantially under SSP370 and SSP585. In the near-term span of 2021–2040, the average NDVI value of SSP585 slightly exceeds that of SSP245 and SSP370, suggesting a positive vegetation development in response to a more pronounced temperature increase in the near term. However, if the trajectory of SSP585 persists, the mean NDVI will commence a decline over the subsequent three periods (2041–2060, 2061–2080, and 2080–2100) with a faster speed than that of SSP370. This decline is attributed to the adverse effects of a rapid temperature rise on vegetation. Based on the examination of individual continents, it is projected that the NDVI values in Africa, South America, and Oceania will decline over time, except under the scenario SSP126 during 2081–2100. On the other hand, the NDVI values in North America and Europe are anticipated to increase, with the exception of the scenario SSP585 during 2081–2100. Additionally, Asia is expected to follow an increasing trend, except under the scenario SSP126 during 2081–2100. In the larger scope, our research findings carry substantial implications for biodiversity preservation, greenhouse gas emission reduction, and efficient environmental management. The utilization of machine learning technology holds the potential to accurately predict future changes in vegetation growth and pinpoint areas where intervention is imperative. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Risk and Climate Change II)
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16 pages, 1190 KiB  
Article
Municipal Sustainability and Climate Planning: A Study of 38 Canadian Local Governments’ Plans and Reports
Environments 2023, 10(12), 203; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120203 - 24 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1649
Abstract
Even with the benefits of sustainability and climate change reporting, there is limited information on how municipalities are reporting on performance for external stakeholders in comparison with private sector organizations. The purpose of this research was to gain an understanding of the current [...] Read more.
Even with the benefits of sustainability and climate change reporting, there is limited information on how municipalities are reporting on performance for external stakeholders in comparison with private sector organizations. The purpose of this research was to gain an understanding of the current state of sustainability and climate change reporting at the local level and to investigate the extent to which municipalities across Ontario, Canada, report. We used content analysis to identify the presence or non-presence of information on the websites of 38 municipalities and analyzed the results using descriptive statistics. Our analysis showed that the sample municipalities were not widely reporting on sustainability or climate change performance. Also, we identified a gap between the number of plans and reports produced by sample municipalities, with the latter being less common, indicating a need for an improved evaluation of plan implementation. Further, we found that a provincial regulation that required municipalities to make their energy conservation and demand management plans public did not guarantee publication of the plan on a municipality’s website. This study contributes to the growing field of sustainability and climate change planning and reporting by local governments and offers empirical evidence specific to Ontario, Canada. Full article
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18 pages, 5042 KiB  
Article
Torrefaction of Forest Residues Using a Lab-Scale Reactor
Environments 2023, 10(12), 202; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120202 - 23 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1071
Abstract
Forest residues have been gaining interest as a source of renewable fuels due to their availability and the risks they represent for increasing forest fires. A major drawback for their removal and processing is the cost of transportation, which can be overcome through [...] Read more.
Forest residues have been gaining interest as a source of renewable fuels due to their availability and the risks they represent for increasing forest fires. A major drawback for their removal and processing is the cost of transportation, which can be overcome through densification procedures, e.g., torrefaction. To optimize the torrefaction parameters, Cistus ladanifer residues from the Portuguese forest were torrefied for 30 min in a lab-scale reactor at 250 and 350 °C. The quality of the torrefied material was assessed, and its energy and mass yields were determined through thermal analysis. The changes in morphological structure occurring during torrefaction were analysed through scanning electron microscopy. When compared to the original biomass, the charcoal obtained at 350 °C had a substantial increase in energy density accompanied by a significant mass reduction. Increasing the mass in the reactor had a positive effect on the energy yield. For the highest mass tested, a mass reduction of around 30% was obtained and a char with no loss in energy content (with a cumulative heat flow (CHF) of 9.0 MJ/kg compared to 5.8 MJ/kg of the original biomass). Modelling of the reactor allowed the analysis of the heat profile required for torrefaction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparation and Application of Biochar)
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20 pages, 6741 KiB  
Review
Adoption of SIFT-MS for VOC Pollution Monitoring in South Korea
Environments 2023, 10(12), 201; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120201 - 23 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1338
Abstract
The pollution of air and water with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), both hazardous and odorous, is of significant concern due to impacts on human health and quality of life, as well as the environment. South Korea is a highly industrialized and densely populated [...] Read more.
The pollution of air and water with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), both hazardous and odorous, is of significant concern due to impacts on human health and quality of life, as well as the environment. South Korea is a highly industrialized and densely populated nation and suffers from significant VOC and ozone pollution. In recent years, South Korea has implemented more stringent controls on industry to address air and water pollution, requiring more real-time and on-site analysis. The selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS) technique has been increasingly adopted to monitor source emissions and their dispersion, enabling a more rapid response to pollution incidents. To this end, the flexibility of SIFT-MS instrumentation for both laboratory- and field-based analysis, including in mobile laboratories, has been valuable. SIFT-MS has been applied to emission source characterization, fenceline monitoring, ambient monitoring, pollution mapping, and incident response (including the use of drone-based sampling) for hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), odor nuisance species, and compounds that have high ozone formation potential (OFP) and/or contribute to secondary aerosol (SOA) formation. This review summarizes the South Korean application of SIFT-MS to the monitoring of VOC pollutants. Full article
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13 pages, 2463 KiB  
Article
Transferred Bacterial Community on the Potentially Pathogenic Bacteria among Aquatic Water, Plant Root, and Sediment When Planting with Chinese Herbs
Environments 2023, 10(12), 200; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120200 - 23 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1183
Abstract
With the development of modern aquaculture, the number of pathogenic bacteria in fish farms has gradually risen. Studies have shown that traditional Chinese medicinal herbs and natural products have greatly contributed to reducing bacterial growth and reproduction. To explore the changes in different [...] Read more.
With the development of modern aquaculture, the number of pathogenic bacteria in fish farms has gradually risen. Studies have shown that traditional Chinese medicinal herbs and natural products have greatly contributed to reducing bacterial growth and reproduction. To explore the changes in different proportions of Houttuynia cordata Thunb and Jussiaea stipulacea on the bacterial composition in water, roots, and sediments, we conducted 16S rRNA gene sequencing on samples of the same to analyze floating beds (60% H. cordata Thunb and 30% H. cordata Thunb, 30% J. stipulacea named HcT1, HcT2, and Jr, respectively) after 30 days in the presence of tilapia culture water, roots, and sediments with bacterial community changes in the respective experimental groups. The results showed that 4811 bacterial operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were obtained; the alterations included decreased Spirochaetae, Nitrospirae, and Elusimicrobia in water; a significant increase in Tenericutes, Chlorobi, and Nitrospirae in HcT1 roots; and decreased Firmicutes and Fusobacteria in HcT2 and Jr roots. Actinobacteria, Nitrospirae, Tenericutes, and Chlamydiae increased in the HcT1 sediment; Fusobacteria and Fibrobacteres increased in the HcT2 sediment; and Cyanobacteria, Gemmatimonadetes, and Acidobacteria increased in the Jr sediment. H. cordata Thunb decreased Tenericutes and Deferribacteres, while Chlorobi, Nitrospirae, and Gemmatimonadetes increased with a 60% planting area, whereas Actinobacteria and Cyanobacteria increased with a 30% planting area, and Jr only increased Fusobacteria and Fibrobacteres. When planting with herbs, Proteobacteria increased, while Deferribacteres and Elusimicrobia decreased. The pathogenic genera may transfer among the water, plant roots, and sediments, and floating cultivation with herbs may be beneficial for blocking the spread of the pathogenic genera found in the samples. Full article
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18 pages, 1028 KiB  
Article
Variation in Copepod Morphological and Life History Traits along a Vertical Gradient of Freshwater Habitats
Environments 2023, 10(12), 199; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120199 - 22 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1339
Abstract
Understanding trait selection factors is vital for decoding the processes shaping species’ assemblages. However, trait-based studies in freshwater crustacean copepod assemblages are scarce, especially in groundwater environments. We explored how environmental filtering influences functional traits in copepod assemblages across four freshwater habitats (an [...] Read more.
Understanding trait selection factors is vital for decoding the processes shaping species’ assemblages. However, trait-based studies in freshwater crustacean copepod assemblages are scarce, especially in groundwater environments. We explored how environmental filtering influences functional traits in copepod assemblages across four freshwater habitats (an alluvial aquifer, a hyporheic zone, a stream benthic zone and a lake littoral) along a depth gradient. Each habitat had distinct environmental templates based on light, temperature and dissolved oxygen. We analysed 4898 individuals from 43 copepod species and examined 12 morphological and life history traits. The results revealed significant differences in copepod traits among habitats, notably in ovigerous female biomass, egg biomass and ovigerous female percentages. Furthermore, despite some statistical uncertainty, notable differences were also observed in the number of juveniles, male-to-female abundance ratios and overall biomass. No significant differences were observed in juvenile biomass, egg characteristics, body size dimorphism or juvenile-to-adult ratios among habitats. The trait variations offer insights into copepod-mediated ecosystem services, particularly carbon recycling. To gain a deeper understanding of copepod adaptations to environmental features and anthropogenic changes, future research should consider additional functional traits, such as locomotion and feeding habits. Full article
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20 pages, 3848 KiB  
Article
Effect of Pharmaceutical Compounds (Diclofenac, Ibuprofen, and Erythromycin) on the Heterotrophic Behaviors of Biomass of a Membrane Bioreactor to Treat Urban Wastewater
Environments 2023, 10(12), 198; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10120198 - 22 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1338
Abstract
The increasing prevalence of pharmaceutical substances in wastewater is emerging as a pressing ecological issue on a global scale. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the biological influence of pharmaceutical compounds on the heterotrophic biomass residing in a membrane bioreactor. The [...] Read more.
The increasing prevalence of pharmaceutical substances in wastewater is emerging as a pressing ecological issue on a global scale. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the biological influence of pharmaceutical compounds on the heterotrophic biomass residing in a membrane bioreactor. The study examined the way microorganisms react to antibiotic and anti-inflammatory compounds, with the goal of proactively tackling potential issues and developing solutions that may emerge withing wastewater treatment plant bioreactors. Respirometric tests were carried out to determine the kinetic response of the heterotrophic biomass. The same study was carried out in the steady state of the plant under different conditions of hydraulic retention times (6 and 12 h) and biomass concentration (2888 ± 371 mg/L to 7477 ± 869 mg/L). A response surface statistical analysis was applied to determine the effect of the variables on the rate of substrate degradation for organic matter removal and the growth rate of net heterotrophic biomass. The results show that the biological response of the biomass is concerned when exposed to a combination of pharmaceutical substances such as ibuprofen, diclofenac, and erythromycin, in four cycles of operation at 16 varying concentrations of pharmaceuticals in each cycle. This suggests the presence of a synergistic effect among these pharmaceuticals, leading to a noticeable slower kinetic response in the biomass. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photocatalytic Applications in Wastewater Treatment)
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