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Environments, Volume 7, Issue 1 (January 2020) – 9 articles

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Cover Story (view full-size image) Analysis of spectral solar UV irradiance recorded at different European stations in 1996–2017 [...] Read more.
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Open AccessEditorial
Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Environments in 2019
Environments 2020, 7(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7010009 - 17 Jan 2020
Viewed by 482
Abstract
The editorial team greatly appreciates the reviewers who have dedicated their considerable time and expertise to the journal’s rigorous editorial process over the past 12 months, regardless of whether the papers are finally published or not [...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
Statistical Analysis of Nutrient Loads from the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin (MARB) to the Gulf of Mexico
Environments 2020, 7(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7010008 - 15 Jan 2020
Viewed by 505
Abstract
This study investigated the annual and seasonal variations in nutrient loads (NO2 + NO3 and orthophosphate) delivered to the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin (MARB) and examined the water quality variations. The results indicate that (1) [...] Read more.
This study investigated the annual and seasonal variations in nutrient loads (NO2 + NO3 and orthophosphate) delivered to the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin (MARB) and examined the water quality variations. The results indicate that (1) annually, the mean NO2 + NO3 and orthophosphate loads showed a steady increase during 1996–1999, a persistent level during 2000–2007, and a moderate increase during 2008–2016; (2) seasonally, NO2 + NO3 and orthophosphate in MARB in spring and summer were higher than those in autumn and winter. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) identified highly significant differences among seasonal loads; and (3) the median value of NO2 + NO3 in normal weather conditions were higher than that during and right after the hurricanes, while the median value of orthophosphate loads in normal weather conditions was higher than that during the hurricanes, but higher than that right after hurricanes. The two-sample t-test indicates a significant difference (p < 0.046) in orthophosphate loads before and after Hurricane Katrina. Moreover, it is found that there is a significant (p < 0.01) increase in nutrient loads during normal weather conditions. The results indicate that hurricane seasons can significantly influence the nutrient loads from the MARB to the Gulf of Mexico. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Use of Fertilizers in Agriculture: Individual Effective Dose Estimate
Environments 2020, 7(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7010007 - 14 Jan 2020
Viewed by 530
Abstract
Natural radioactivity might be present in fertilizers above ordinary levels, in particular for 40K and for the radionuclides of the 238U series. A modeling evaluation of the individual effective dose deriving from the use of fertilizers in agriculture is presented here. [...] Read more.
Natural radioactivity might be present in fertilizers above ordinary levels, in particular for 40K and for the radionuclides of the 238U series. A modeling evaluation of the individual effective dose deriving from the use of fertilizers in agriculture is presented here. Dose assessment is useful in the transposition of Directive 2013/59/Euratom, which rules the individual exposure to commodities containing radionuclides of natural origin, such as fertilizers. The following input data have been considered for this study: the amount of fertilizers used in the region of Veneto and in Italy; the utilized agricultural area (to estimate the density of spread fertilizers); and, the average values of activity concentrations in fertilizers for 40K and 238U series radionuclides, derived from scientific literature. The individual effective dose was evaluated while using the Resrad calculation model, making assumptions on the characteristics of the interested soil. This study is focused on the region of Veneto, where the use of fertilizers is higher with respect to the rest of Italy, such providing a more conservative estimate of the individual effective dose to the population. The results show that the estimated individual effective dose values do not exceed few µSv per year. The category that most contributes to the dose is that of compound fertilizers and radon and 40K are the most significant radionuclides. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Physical Agents: Measurement Methods, Modelling and Mitigations)
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Open AccessArticle
A Review of Radioactive Wastes Production and Potential Environmental Releases at Experimental Nuclear Fusion Facilities
Environments 2020, 7(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7010006 - 09 Jan 2020
Viewed by 593
Abstract
The development of experimental nuclear fusion facilities and the systems connected to them currently involves the operation (or advanced design) of some large plants in the national territory. Devices such as neutron generators and plasma focus systems are also included. The machines developed [...] Read more.
The development of experimental nuclear fusion facilities and the systems connected to them currently involves the operation (or advanced design) of some large plants in the national territory. Devices such as neutron generators and plasma focus systems are also included. The machines developed to test the main components of these systems such as neutral beam generators (Neutral Beam Injector) and the experimental plants for thermonuclear fusion, mainly in the Tokamak configuration (toroidal geometry), are in the list. These applications are characterized by high neutron fluxes of high energy (typically 2.5 and 14 MeV from deuterium-deuterium and deuterium-tritium fusion reactions, respectively). They involve the production of radionuclides in the components of the machines and in the fluids used for targets’ cooling and in the primary containments. In many cases, the atmosphere of the rooms containing these structures is activated and may be affected by the dispersion of powders that are more or less radioactive. The present work addresses the issues mentioned so far, taking into consideration the real cases relating to the devices and the facilities in operation, under construction, and in the advanced design phase. The conclusions highlight the critical aspects related to the management of these types of waste, as well as the low or very low environmental impact, from a radiological point of view, of the examined facilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Physical Agents: Measurement Methods, Modelling and Mitigations)
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Open AccessArticle
Selective Electromagnetic Measurements of 4G Signals: Results of an Italian National Intercomparison
Environments 2020, 7(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7010005 - 09 Jan 2020
Viewed by 534
Abstract
In June 2016, with the aim of ensuring a global improvement in the performance of the Italian System of the Environmental Agencies (SNPA) and its homogeneity on the national territory, an intercomparison circuit (IC) was planned and conducted concerning the measurements of electromagnetic [...] Read more.
In June 2016, with the aim of ensuring a global improvement in the performance of the Italian System of the Environmental Agencies (SNPA) and its homogeneity on the national territory, an intercomparison circuit (IC) was planned and conducted concerning the measurements of electromagnetic fields associated with Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile communications, which were very recently introduced at that time. The intercomparison circuit, designed and built according to the criteria of ISO 17043, was organized as part of a consolidated collaboration between the Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) and the Piedmont Regional Agency for Environmental Protection (Arpa Piemonte). The results obtained, preceded by a brief description of the entire process of organization and analysis, are the subject of this work. The IC covered in particular: the narrow band measurement procedures used in the field; the choice of decoding, measurement and extrapolation of the synthesis result; the response of the instrumentation, limited to the models in the field. The site chosen by the organizers, primarily characterized through measurements and theoretical evaluation of the field, is the roof of the Lingotto Building in Turin. A total of 27 groups participated in the circuit: 25 SNPA departments (including the organizers Arpa Piemonte and ISPRA) and 2 private labs. All participants provided the results. The outcome of the comparison was decidedly positive: only 2 participants, for whom a joint assessment of possible causes will also be illustrated (according to ISO 5725:2), achieved significantly different results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Physical Agents: Measurement Methods, Modelling and Mitigations)
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Open AccessArticle
Chemometrics-Assisted Monitoring in Raman Spectroscopy for the Biodegradation Process of an Aqueous Polyfluoroalkyl Ether from a Fire-Fighting foam in an Environmental Matrix
Environments 2020, 7(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7010004 - 08 Jan 2020
Viewed by 576
Abstract
Surfactants based on polyfluoroalkyl ethers are commonly used in fire-fighting foams on airport platforms, including for training sessions. Because of their persistence into the environment, their toxicity and their bioaccumulation, abnormal amounts can be found in ground and surface water following the operations [...] Read more.
Surfactants based on polyfluoroalkyl ethers are commonly used in fire-fighting foams on airport platforms, including for training sessions. Because of their persistence into the environment, their toxicity and their bioaccumulation, abnormal amounts can be found in ground and surface water following the operations of airport platforms. As with many other anthropogenic, organic compounds, some concerns are raised about their biodegradation. That is why the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 301 F protocol was implemented to monitor the oxygen consumption during the biodegradation of a commercial fire-fighting foam. However, a Raman spectroscopic monitoring of the process was also attached to this experimental procedure to evaluate to what extent a polyfluoroalkyl ether disappeared from the environmental matrix. Our approach relies on the use of chemometrics, such as Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and Partial Least Squares (PLS), in order to monitor the kinetics of the biodegradation reaction of one fire-fighting foam, Tridol S3B, containing a polyfluoroalkyl ether. This study provided a better appreciation of the partial biodegradation of some polyfluoroalkyl ethers by coupling Raman spectroscopy and chemometrics. This will ultimately facilitate the design of future purification and remediation devices for airport platforms. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Fish Consumed by the Indigenous Peoples from Nenets Autonomous Okrug
Environments 2020, 7(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7010003 - 31 Dec 2019
Viewed by 771
Abstract
Currently, monitoring of persistent organic pollutant (POP) content in various biological and environmental matrixes in the Arctic is an urgent task. The present study focused on the determination of POPs such as: PCB#28, PCB#52, PCB#101, PCB#105, PCB#118, PCB#123, PCB#153, PCB#128, p,p’-DDE, o,p’-DDE, p,p’-DDD, [...] Read more.
Currently, monitoring of persistent organic pollutant (POP) content in various biological and environmental matrixes in the Arctic is an urgent task. The present study focused on the determination of POPs such as: PCB#28, PCB#52, PCB#101, PCB#105, PCB#118, PCB#123, PCB#153, PCB#128, p,p’-DDE, o,p’-DDE, p,p’-DDD, o,p’-DDD, hexachlorobenzene (HCB), cis-nonachlor, trans-nonachlor, cis-chlordane, trans-chlordane, mirex, 1,2,3,5-tetrachlorobenzene and 1,2,4,5-tetrachlorobenzene in fish consumed by the indigenous people of the Nenets Autonomous Okrug (NAO) of the Russian Arctic. Fish samples were analyzed by gas chromatography triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (GC-MS/MS) using the multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) technique. The obtained results show that the major POPs in fish were dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) breakdown products and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) congeners. The ∑PCB8 in pink salmon, Arctic char, navaga, humpback whitefish and northern pike were 1.54, 1.58, 1.24, 0.72 and 0.32 ng/g (ww), respectively. The main PCB congeners maximum average medium concentrations were 0.68 ng/g (ww) and 0.51 ng/g (ww) of PCB#153 in navaga and PCB#128 in pink salmon, respectively. The main DDT breakdown product was p,p’-DDE. In Arctic char, pink salmon, navaga, humpback whitefish and northern pike, the concentration of p,p’-DDE was 0.58, 1.61, 0.49, 0.63 and 0.08 ng/g (ww), respectively. A moderate positive relationship between ∑PCB8 and lipid content and a high positive relationship between ∑DDT and lipid content were observed. In fish samples with fat content <0.5% (northern pike, humpback whitefish), the amount of analyzed POPs was 2 or more times lower than that in fish species with fat content >1% (pink salmon, Arctic char). Despite the large number of fish in the diet of indigenous peoples from NAO, no significant risks were identified. Most legacy POP and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) tend to decrease, which can be explained by past national and regional bans and restriction on their use and emission. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Factors Affecting the Environmentally Induced, Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Aetiology in Dry Zonal Regions in Tropical Countries—Novel Findings
Environments 2020, 7(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7010002 - 18 Dec 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 801
Abstract
A new form of chronic tubulointerstitial kidney disease (CKD) not related to diabetes or hypertension appeared during the past four decades in several peri-equatorial and predominantly agricultural countries. Commonalities include underground stagnation of drinking water with prolonged contact with rocks, harsh climatic conditions [...] Read more.
A new form of chronic tubulointerstitial kidney disease (CKD) not related to diabetes or hypertension appeared during the past four decades in several peri-equatorial and predominantly agricultural countries. Commonalities include underground stagnation of drinking water with prolonged contact with rocks, harsh climatic conditions with protracted dry seasons, and rampant poverty and malnutrition. In general, the cause is unknown, and the disease is therefore named CKD of unknown aetiology (CKDu). Since it is likely caused by a combination of factors, a better term would be CKD of multifactorial origin (CKDmfo). Middle-aged malnourished men with more than 10 years of exposure to environmental hazards are the most vulnerable. Over 30 factors have been proposed as causative, including agrochemicals and heavy metals, but none has been properly tested nor proven as causative, and unlikely to be the cause of CKDmfo/CKDu. Conditions such as, having favourable climatic patterns, adequate hydration, and less poverty and malnutrition seem to prevent the disease. With the right in vivo conditions, chemical species such as calcium, phosphate, oxalate, and fluoride form intra-renal nanomineral particles initiating the CKDmfo. This article examines the key potential chemical components causing CKDmfo together with the risk factors and vulnerabilities predisposing individuals to this disease. Research findings suggest that in addition to drinking water from stagnant sources that contain high ionic components, more than 10 years of exposure to environmental nephrotoxins and micronutrient malnutrition are needed to contract this fatal disease. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Solar UV Irradiance in a Changing Climate: Trends in Europe and the Significance of Spectral Monitoring in Italy
Environments 2020, 7(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7010001 - 18 Dec 2019
Viewed by 905
Abstract
Review of the existing bibliography shows that the direction and magnitude of the long-term trends of UV irradiance, and their main drivers, vary significantly throughout Europe. Analysis of total ozone and spectral UV data recorded at four European stations during 1996–2017 reveals that [...] Read more.
Review of the existing bibliography shows that the direction and magnitude of the long-term trends of UV irradiance, and their main drivers, vary significantly throughout Europe. Analysis of total ozone and spectral UV data recorded at four European stations during 1996–2017 reveals that long-term changes in UV are mainly driven by changes in aerosols, cloudiness, and surface albedo, while changes in total ozone play a less significant role. The variability of UV irradiance is large throughout Italy due to the complex topography and large latitudinal extension of the country. Analysis of the spectral UV records of the urban site of Rome, and the alpine site of Aosta reveals that differences between the two sites follow the annual cycle of the differences in cloudiness and surface albedo. Comparisons between the noon UV index measured at the ground at the same stations and the corresponding estimates from the Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD) forecast model and the ozone monitoring instrument (OMI)/Aura observations reveal differences of up to 6 units between individual measurements, which are likely due to the different spatial resolution of the different datasets, and average differences of 0.5–1 unit, possibly related to the use of climatological surface albedo and aerosol optical properties in the retrieval algorithms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Physical Agents: Measurement Methods, Modelling and Mitigations)
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