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Environments, Volume 7, Issue 2 (February 2020) – 8 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Exposing an anaerobic digester to a semicontinuous treatment of sound at sonic frequencies greatly enhanced biogas production. The basis of this increase is likely multifaceted, with cavitational induced breakdown of sludge, acoustic streaming, vibrational energy imparted to sludge, degassing of the digestate, and enhanced mixing all playing a role. Regardless of the root causes of increased gas production, recordings of the sound-treated digester were much louder than those of a control digester, indicating heightened biological activity. View this paper.
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17 pages, 3376 KiB  
Article
Port Noise and Complaints in the North Tyrrhenian Sea and Framework for Remediation
by Matteo Bolognese, Francesco Fidecaro, Diego Palazzuoli and Gaetano Licitra
Environments 2020, 7(2), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7020017 - 24 Feb 2020
Cited by 34 | Viewed by 5408
Abstract
Compared to the other relevant noise sources such as railways, roads, and airplanes, the regulation regarding port noise is lagging behind. The absence of specific laws is likely one of the main causes of the increasingly high number of complaints reported by the [...] Read more.
Compared to the other relevant noise sources such as railways, roads, and airplanes, the regulation regarding port noise is lagging behind. The absence of specific laws is likely one of the main causes of the increasingly high number of complaints reported by the citizens living nearby the ports. At the same time, scientific literature concerning the impact of port noise and its mitigation is not so widespread and only a few studies are available at the moment. However, the volume of maritime traffic has increased in the last years and consequently, Port Authorities are required to assess the impact of port operations on the city soundscape without using specific directives or guidelines. In this context, the INTERREG Maritime programme projects RUMBLE, MON ACUMEN, and REPORT aim to fill this gap, by investigating the state-of-the-art of port noise in the north Tyrrhenian sea and developing helpful instruments. Data were collected via a survey sent to the Port Authorities, local environmental protection agencies and universities involved in the projects. The survey was focused on monitoring systems, previous measurement campaigns, noise maps, and citizens’ complaints already taken. The results confirmed both a lack of awareness among residents and authorities and the absence of actions aimed at reducing port noise. In this framework, the difficulties encountered by the Port Authorities in managing the ports sustainably are highlighted. An underestimation of citizens’ exposure to noise in port areas could be expected. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Physical Agents: Measurement Methods, Modelling and Mitigations)
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13 pages, 2794 KiB  
Article
Influence of Soil Characteristics and Land Use Type on Existing Fractions of Radioactive 137Cs in Fukushima Soils
by Akwasi Dwira Mensah, Akimi Terasaki, Han Phyo Aung, Hiroto Toda, Sohzoh Suzuki, Haruo Tanaka, Siaw Onwona-Agyeman, Richard Ansong Omari and Sonoko Dorothea Bellingrath-Kimura
Environments 2020, 7(2), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7020016 - 21 Feb 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 4077
Abstract
Radioactive cesium (137Cs) in distinct soil fractions provides key information to its bioavailability, and therefore determining the effect of soil characteristics and land use types on existing fractions of 137Cs in soils is important for predicting future 137Cs mobility [...] Read more.
Radioactive cesium (137Cs) in distinct soil fractions provides key information to its bioavailability, and therefore determining the effect of soil characteristics and land use types on existing fractions of 137Cs in soils is important for predicting future 137Cs mobility in Fukushima. Thus, the objective of this study was to investigate the influence of soil characteristics and land use types on sequentially extracted fractions of 137Cs in Fukushima. In this study, five coniferous forest soils, eight arable soils, and eight paddy rice soils were sampled in 2012 and 2013. The 137Cs in the soils were separated into four fractions; water-soluble, exchangeable, organic matter-bound and residual fractions. More than 90% of the soil 137Cs fraction for arable and paddy rice soils was found in the residual fraction, implying significantly reduced bioavailable 137Cs with higher fixation. In contrast, forest soils measured higher exchangeable and organic matter-bound fractions of 5%–33% and 9%–44%, respectively, implying future 137Cs mobility in the forest ecosystem. Correlation analysis showed a significant negative correlation (p < 0.05) between the organic matter fraction and residual fraction in both arable and paddy rice soils. There was a significant positive correlation (p < 0.05) for both exchangeable and residual fractions with cation exchange capacity (CEC), total carbon (TC) and total nitrogen (TN) values in arable soils. Organic matter content influenced both exchangeable and residual fractions. It was not clear whether organic matter played a direct role in 137Cs fixation or mobility in the agricultural soils. In paddy rice soils, the organic matter fraction showed a significant negative correlation with TC and TN values. Soil pH was significantly negatively correlated (p < 0.05) with both water-soluble and residual fractions in forest soils but positively (p < 0.1) with the organically bound 137Cs fraction. Full article
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11 pages, 540 KiB  
Article
Estimation of the Discharge of Sunscreens in Aquatic Environments of the Mexican Caribbean
by Diego Armando Casas-Beltran, Miguel Hernández-Pedraza and Jesús Alvarado-Flores
Environments 2020, 7(2), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7020015 - 20 Feb 2020
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 8284
Abstract
Tourist growth in Quintana Roo, Mexico has brought with it an increase of pollution by sunscreens to aquatic ecosystems, which represents an environmental risk because of the chemical components of sunscreens that can negatively affect human health and aquatic ecosystems. However, the magnitude [...] Read more.
Tourist growth in Quintana Roo, Mexico has brought with it an increase of pollution by sunscreens to aquatic ecosystems, which represents an environmental risk because of the chemical components of sunscreens that can negatively affect human health and aquatic ecosystems. However, the magnitude of pollution in aquatic environments is unknown. Consequently, we sought to estimate the contamination by sunscreens based on usage and tourism statistics. Our estimate indicates that the water in Quintana Roo will receive nearly 4367.25 tons of chemicals from sunscreens used by residents and tourists over a period of 18 years (2007 to 2025). On average, each tourist stays in Quintana Roo for 3.45 days, and 89.9% of these visitors apply sunscreen, although only the 83.7% engage in water activities. Additionally, 30.4% of residents engage in water activities for an average of 1.5 days/year. We considered direct sunscreen contaminant contamination, which occurs from the application of sunscreen and subsequent water activities, as well as indirect contamination, which occurs when people wash their skin with drinking water that then enters the drainage system. Our analysis indicated that the greatest contribution of sunscreen to the karst aquifer of Quintana Roo, is direct. Chemicals dissolved in water are a danger to aquatic life and human health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Monitoring of Pollutants)
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14 pages, 6561 KiB  
Article
Hydrological and Environmental Impact of Wastewater Treatment and Reuse on Zarqa River Basin in Jordan
by Naser Almanaseer, Muna Hindiyeh and Raha Al-Assaf
Environments 2020, 7(2), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7020014 - 12 Feb 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 5519
Abstract
Treated wastewater is an important component of the water resource in Jordan. As Samra wastewater treatment plant—the largest treatment plant in Jordan—discharges ~110 MCM per year of secondary treated municipal wastewater to Zarqa River, and eventually to Jordan Valley. This research aims at [...] Read more.
Treated wastewater is an important component of the water resource in Jordan. As Samra wastewater treatment plant—the largest treatment plant in Jordan—discharges ~110 MCM per year of secondary treated municipal wastewater to Zarqa River, and eventually to Jordan Valley. This research aims at assessing the impact of treated wastewater reuse on the hydrology and environment in the most vulnerable areas within Amman-Zarqa Basin, specifically from As Samra treatment plant to Jerash Bridge. Historical data is collected, field survey is performed, and chemical and biological analyses are performed at eleven selected locations along the study area. Afterwards, all collected data is managed using suitable tools to address the impact. The findings of this research demonstrate high improvement in biological and microbial parameters along the flow path, yet the salinity is increased downstream. It is found that this increase is due to brackish water intrusion, apparently from sandstone aquifer. Analysis of BOD and COD carried out as part of this research showed effective system recovery with COD reduction from 130 mg/L at the effluent to less than 50 mg/l in the downstream. Moreover, microbial activities are reduced, mainly due to self-purification in the river. Full article
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17 pages, 1082 KiB  
Review
Cyanobacteria: Review of Current Potentials and Applications
by Zahra Zahra, Da Hyun Choo, Heayyean Lee and Amna Parveen
Environments 2020, 7(2), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7020013 - 12 Feb 2020
Cited by 104 | Viewed by 27593
Abstract
Continual increases in the human population and growing concerns related to the energy crisis, food security, disease outbreaks, global warming, and other environmental issues require a sustainable solution from nature. One of the promising resources is cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae. They [...] Read more.
Continual increases in the human population and growing concerns related to the energy crisis, food security, disease outbreaks, global warming, and other environmental issues require a sustainable solution from nature. One of the promising resources is cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae. They require simple ingredients to grow and possess a relatively simple genome. Cyanobacteria are known to produce a wide variety of bioactive compounds. In addition, cyanobacteria’s remarkable growth rate enables its potential use in a wide range of applications in the fields of bioenergy, biotechnology, natural products, medicine, agriculture, and the environment. In this review, we have summarized the potential applications of cyanobacteria in different areas of science and development, especially related to their use in producing biofuels and other valuable co-products. We have also discussed the challenges that hinder such development at an industrial level and ways to overcome such obstacles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Deployment of Green Technologies for Sustainable Environment)
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12 pages, 4169 KiB  
Article
Measurements of 22Na in the Atmosphere: Ground Level Activity Concentration Values from Wet and Dry Deposition Samples
by Mauro Magnoni, Luca Bellina, Stefano Bertino, Brunella Bellotto, Maura Ghione and Maria Clivia Losana
Environments 2020, 7(2), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7020012 - 11 Feb 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 4581
Abstract
Sodium-22 (22Na, half-life 2.603 years) is a cosmogenic radionuclide mainly produced in the stratosphere by nuclear spallation reactions of cosmic rays on 40Ar. Due to the very low concentration levels normally reached in the environment, 22Na poses no significant [...] Read more.
Sodium-22 (22Na, half-life 2.603 years) is a cosmogenic radionuclide mainly produced in the stratosphere by nuclear spallation reactions of cosmic rays on 40Ar. Due to the very low concentration levels normally reached in the environment, 22Na poses no significant radioprotection threats: actually, the effective doses delivered to humans can hardly exceed a few nSv per year, a very negligible value. However, the measurements of this radionuclides can be very interesting for atmospheric circulation and climatic studies. Unfortunately, the difficulty of 22Na detection, due to its very low concentration levels, has prevented the gathering of large and widespread time series of this radionuclide. In this paper, a method for the retrospective measurements of 22Na in the atmosphere, starting from the gamma spectra (hyperpure germanium detectors (HPGe) detectors) of wet and dry deposition samples stored in our databases is proposed and validated. The method was applied to spectra samples gathered in the context of the Italian National Radioactivity Monitoring Network (RESORAD) and allowed the detection of the very low atmospheric activity concentration values of 22Na present at ground level. The results obtained with the new method are discussed and compared for validation with the available experimental values. Finally, some possible applications to environmental studies are also highlighted and suggested. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Physical Agents: Measurement Methods, Modelling and Mitigations)
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16 pages, 1488 KiB  
Article
In Situ Acoustic Treatment of Anaerobic Digesters to Improve Biogas Yields
by John Loughrin, Stacy Antle, Karamat Sistani and Nanh Lovanh
Environments 2020, 7(2), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7020011 - 8 Feb 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 6821
Abstract
Sound has the potential to increase biogas yields and enhance wastewater degradation in anaerobic digesters. To assess this potential, two pilot-scale digestion systems were operated, with one exposed to sound at less than 10 kHz and with one acting as a control. Sounds [...] Read more.
Sound has the potential to increase biogas yields and enhance wastewater degradation in anaerobic digesters. To assess this potential, two pilot-scale digestion systems were operated, with one exposed to sound at less than 10 kHz and with one acting as a control. Sounds used were sine waves, broadband noise, and orchestral compositions. Weekly biogas production from sound-treated digesters was 18,900 L, more than twice that of the control digester. The sound-treated digesters were primarily exposed to orchestral compositions, because this made cavitational events easier to identify and because harmonic and amplitude shifts in music seem to induce more cavitation. Background recordings from the sound-treated digester were louder and had more cavitational events than those of the control digester, which we ascribe to enhanced microbial growth and the resulting accelerated sludge breakdown. Acoustic cavitation, vibrational energy imparted to wastewater and sludge, and mixing due to a release of bubbles from the sludge may all act in concert to accelerate wastewater degradation and boost biogas production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wastewater and Solid Waste Treatment)
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11 pages, 241 KiB  
Conference Report
Ultraviolet Radiation Exposure: Some Observations and Considerations, Focusing on Some Italian Experiences, on Cancer Risk, and Primary Prevention
by Lucia Miligi
Environments 2020, 7(2), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7020010 - 22 Jan 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 5302
Abstract
Solar ultraviolet radiation may cause acute and chronic health effects on the skin, eyes, and also on the immune system. Actinic keratosis, non-melanoma skin cancers, and malignant melanoma are the main long-term adverse skin effects. In the white population, the most common type [...] Read more.
Solar ultraviolet radiation may cause acute and chronic health effects on the skin, eyes, and also on the immune system. Actinic keratosis, non-melanoma skin cancers, and malignant melanoma are the main long-term adverse skin effects. In the white population, the most common type of cancer worldwide is skin cancer, and the incidence of this cancer has increased during the last decades. The most important risk factor responsible for this trend seems to be Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR). IARC has classified UVR as being carcinogenic to humans. UV radiation exposure is ubiquitous; to study skin cancer risk, it is important to take into account the fact that UV exposure may occur both for occupational activities but also during vacation or recreational activities. Furthermore, exposure to artificial UVR such as those emitted by artificial devices, classified by IARC as carcinogenic to humans, is also to be considered. Due to the prominent role of UVR, primary prevention of skin cancer is very suitable, because when following specific rules this risk factor can be reduced. The incidence rate of skin cancer is higher in people with fair skin. Outdoor workers exposed to solar UVR are at risk of developing skin cancer, particularly non-melanoma skin cancers, and welders exposed to artificial UVR are at risk of developing ocular melanoma. A specific project on solar UVR risk in outdoor workers in Tuscany, Italy, has shown that outdoor workers had an unsatisfactory sun protection behaviour. The project demonstrates the complexity of studying UVR exposure and recommended the need for prevention programs. Risk increases with increasing ambient solar radiation and with unsafe behaviours in the sun or when using artificial UVR (e.g., sunbeds). Effective prevention strategies have to be adopted both for the outdoor workers and for the general population exposed to UVR. A standardized program of proven efficacy, such as that implemented in Australia, should also be implemented in other countries. All these strategies could contribute to the aim of decreasing the morbidity and mortality of cancers associated with this exposure. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of UVR exposure risk, particularly occupational risk, and to give some elements to understand the complexity of the relation between UVR exposure and cancer risk, as well as to outline primary prevention measures, focusing also on Italian experiences that could be useful for providing additional elements of knowledge on this topic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Physical Agents: Measurement Methods, Modelling and Mitigations)
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