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Environments, Volume 8, Issue 10 (October 2021) – 14 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): An ecosystem’s health is based on a delicate balance between humans, animals, and environmental health. There are several bioindicators that allow us to evaluate the status of ecosystems. The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) lives in rural and urban areas and has a greatly diverse diet. Being susceptible to environmental pollution and zoonotic agents, red foxes may act as sentinels to detect environmental contaminants, climatic changes, and to prevent and control outbreaks of emerging or re-emerging zoonosis. This paper aims to compile the latest information that is related to the red fox as a sentinel of human, animal, and environmental health. View this paper
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Article
Associations of Exposure to Nitrogen Oxides with Prevalent Asthma and Other Atopic Diseases in Israel
Environments 2021, 8(10), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8100110 - 19 Oct 2021
Viewed by 249
Abstract
Childhood exposure to nitrogen oxides (NOx) is considered a risk factor for the onset of asthma. However, associations of this exposure with other atopic diseases and factors that modify this association are less clear. We aimed to study associations between exposure to NOx [...] Read more.
Childhood exposure to nitrogen oxides (NOx) is considered a risk factor for the onset of asthma. However, associations of this exposure with other atopic diseases and factors that modify this association are less clear. We aimed to study associations between exposure to NOx and the prevalence of atopic diseases in Israeli adolescents using a cross-sectional design. The study population comprised all Israeli-born adolescents whose medical status was evaluated for mandatory military recruitment during 1967–2017 (n = 2,523,745), of whom 5.9% had prevalent asthma. We based the exposure assessments on a land-use regression model and estimated associations using multivariable logistic regression models. Across all periods, mean exposure to NOx from birth to adolescence was associated with prevalent asthma at the examination in a dose-response manner, with an odds ratio for the upper quintile of 1.61 (95% CI: 1.56–1.67), in comparison to the lowest quintile. Associations were stronger in males and in lower socioeconomic strata. We found the strongest associations for asthma with comorbid rhinitis, with an almost twofold increase in the odds of upper versus lower quintile of exposure (odds ratio = 1.96, 95% CI: 1.82–2.11). Rhino-conjunctivitis and allergic atopic dermatitis suggested a possible threshold level with NOx. Capsule Summary: Research indicates that half of the global population will suffer from an allergic condition at some point in life. Childhood exposure to nitrogen oxides is a risk factor for the onset of asthma. The association between exposure and allergic diseases other than asthma is unclear. We demonstrate a strong, dose-response relationship between exposure and a group of allergic outcomes, using data comprising 2.5 million subjects over 50 years. The large health benefits from clean air should motivate governments to prioritize mitigation measures. Full article
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Review
Empirical Research of Public Acceptance on Environmental Tax: A Systematic Literature Review
Environments 2021, 8(10), 109; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8100109 - 15 Oct 2021
Viewed by 112
Abstract
Several international organizations such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations (UN), and World Bank recommend that policymakers implement an environmental tax to reduce climate change, protect the environment and gain more income for governments. Effectiveness of the policy [...] Read more.
Several international organizations such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations (UN), and World Bank recommend that policymakers implement an environmental tax to reduce climate change, protect the environment and gain more income for governments. Effectiveness of the policy depends on a carefully designed framework, which essentially adopts the social and economic contextual of a country and public support. Researchers have been focusing on examining the factors that influence public acceptance of an environmental tax. This paper aims to systematically review the empirical studies using the RepOrting Standards for Systematic Evidence Syntheses (ROSES) protocol. The information is relevant for policy makers in designing a feasible and acceptable carbon tax policy. Furthermore, the paper provides suggestions for future research. Related articles were selected using two leading databases, namely Scopus and Science Direct, and one supporting database, namely Google Scholar. Thematic analysis was conducted on 60 articles and four main themes were derived with 32 subthemes. The analysis indicates that people are more supportive when they (i) are well informed about a policy’s effectiveness and the policy content, particularly the use of revenue, (ii) have high trust in the government, (iii) have a positive attitude toward protecting the environment, (iv) perceive the policy is fair in terms of costs distribution and social sharing, and (v) are concerned about the climate change issue. Full article
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Article
A Case Study on Metal Contamination in Water and Sediment near a Coal Thermal Power Plant on the Eastern Coast of Bangladesh
Environments 2021, 8(10), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8100108 - 15 Oct 2021
Viewed by 166
Abstract
This study has evaluated the potential ecological risk and human health risk for the contamination of nine elements (Cu, Cr, Mn, Zn, As, Pb, Co, Fe, and Sr) in water and sediment samples in two seasons, i.e., before and after rainy season, by [...] Read more.
This study has evaluated the potential ecological risk and human health risk for the contamination of nine elements (Cu, Cr, Mn, Zn, As, Pb, Co, Fe, and Sr) in water and sediment samples in two seasons, i.e., before and after rainy season, by calculating several pollution indices such as pollution load index (PLI), potential ecological risk (PER), and target hazard quotient (THQ). Samples were analyzed for elemental concentration using energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) spectrometry. This study found that waters in the Kutubdia channel are safe and standard for aquatic organisms. In addition, the study area’s elemental concentration in water and sediments is still safe but moderately enriched with Zn and Cu. The elemental concentration in water was observed to be high in the pre-monsoon season and vice versa in the sediment study. The result also reveals no potential ecological risk (PER < 4) in the study site. However, the health risk index showed a noncarcinogenic risk (THQ > 1) for children and adults regarding the inhalation process where manganese was dominant. Apart from this, the pollution source was also identified by multivariate statistical analysis, including cluster analysis (CA) and principal component analysis (PCA)—and a natural pollution source prevalent was found. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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Article
Source Apportionment of PM2.5, PAH and Arsenic Air Pollution in Central Bohemia
Environments 2021, 8(10), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8100107 - 13 Oct 2021
Viewed by 208
Abstract
The results of air quality monitoring show significantly increased concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and arsenic in the area located near the town of Kladno in Central Bohemia, Czech Republic. The region of interest is historically associated with coal mines and steelworks. [...] Read more.
The results of air quality monitoring show significantly increased concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and arsenic in the area located near the town of Kladno in Central Bohemia, Czech Republic. The region of interest is historically associated with coal mines and steelworks. Source apportionment using the method of Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) at three sites has been used to try to explain the reasons of the increased PM2.5, benzo[a]pyrene, and arsenic concentrations in the ambient air. Based on the PMF analysis, nine factors explaining the atmospheric aerosol mass have been identified. The PMF results showed that most of the aerosol mass originated from residential heating (about one third of PM2.5), both primary particles and secondary organic aerosols induced by road traffic (up to approximately 25%), soil and other mineral dust (about 15%), secondary inorganic aerosol ammonium sulfate (up to 16%), ammonium nitrate (up to 14%) and other sulfates (up to 9%). The main source of arsenic and benzo[a]pyrene was residential heating, which accounted for two-thirds and 80% of their total mass, respectively. The results have pointed to the most important measures for effective air quality protection in the area of interest: replacing coal fuel and old boilers used for residential heating in order to reduce arsenic and PAH emissions and mitigate sources of secondary particles precursors to decrease PM concentrations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Air Pollution and Occupational Exposure)
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Article
Abundance and Composition of Marine Litter on the Seafloor of the Gulf of Sant Jordi (Western Mediterranean Sea)
Environments 2021, 8(10), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8100106 - 13 Oct 2021
Viewed by 363
Abstract
This article analyzes the abundance and composition of marine litter in the Gulf of Sant Jordi (Catalonia, Spain). Marine litter was removed from the sea by a fishing trawler operating from the port of L’Ametlla de Mar; 56 hauls were performed between July [...] Read more.
This article analyzes the abundance and composition of marine litter in the Gulf of Sant Jordi (Catalonia, Spain). Marine litter was removed from the sea by a fishing trawler operating from the port of L’Ametlla de Mar; 56 hauls were performed between July and September 2018. The marine litter was classified following UNEP/IOC Guidelines on Survey and Monitoring of Marine Litter and EU MSFD Technical Group on Marine Litter Joint List, with a total of 2691 items collected and an average number by haul of 48 (SD 28.24). The density was 130 items km−2 but with significant differences according to trawling depth: 192 items km−2 (≤100 m) and 71.5 items km−2 (>100 m). As expected, plastic was the most commonly found material, comprising almost 80% of the total. The relative presence of plastics declined as trawling depth increased. An alarmingly high amount of sanitary waste was found. Further studies are necessary to compare summer results with those of smaller seasonal populations and to analyze what happens to sanitary waste. Full article
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Review
Study of the Urban Heat Island (UHI) Using Remote Sensing Data/Techniques: A Systematic Review
Environments 2021, 8(10), 105; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8100105 - 09 Oct 2021
Viewed by 544
Abstract
Urban Heat Islands (UHI) consist of the occurrence of higher temperatures in urbanized areas when compared to rural areas. During the warmer seasons, this effect can lead to thermal discomfort, higher energy consumption, and aggravated pollution effects. The application of Remote Sensing (RS) [...] Read more.
Urban Heat Islands (UHI) consist of the occurrence of higher temperatures in urbanized areas when compared to rural areas. During the warmer seasons, this effect can lead to thermal discomfort, higher energy consumption, and aggravated pollution effects. The application of Remote Sensing (RS) data/techniques using thermal sensors onboard satellites, drones, or aircraft, allow for the estimation of Land Surface Temperature (LST). This article presents a systematic review of publications in Scopus and Web of Science (WOS) on UHI analysis using RS data/techniques and LST, from 2000 to 2020. The selection of articles considered keywords, title, abstract, and when deemed necessary, the full text. The process was conducted by two independent researchers and 579 articles, published in English, were selected. Qualitative and quantitative analyses were performed. Cfa climate areas are the most represented, as the Northern Hemisphere concentrates the most studied areas, especially in Asia (69.94%); Landsat products were the most applied to estimates LST (68.39%) and LULC (55.96%); ArcGIS (30.74%) was most used software for data treatment, and correlation (38.69%) was the most applied statistic technique. There is an increasing number of publications, especially from 2016, and the transversality of UHI studies corroborates the relevance of this topic. Full article
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Article
Economic and Life Cycle Analysis of Passive and Active Monitoring of Ozone for Forest Protection
Environments 2021, 8(10), 104; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8100104 - 09 Oct 2021
Viewed by 416
Abstract
At forest sites, phytotoxic tropospheric ozone (O3) can be monitored with continuously operating, active monitors (AM) or passive, cumulative samplers (PM). For the first time, we present evidence that the sustainability of active monitoring is better than that of passive sensors, [...] Read more.
At forest sites, phytotoxic tropospheric ozone (O3) can be monitored with continuously operating, active monitors (AM) or passive, cumulative samplers (PM). For the first time, we present evidence that the sustainability of active monitoring is better than that of passive sensors, as the environmental, economic, and social costs are usually lower in the former than in the latter. By using data collected in the field, environmental, social, and economic costs were analyzed. The study considered monitoring sites at three distances from a control station in Italy (30, 400, and 750 km), two forest types (deciduous and Mediterranean evergreen), and three time windows (5, 10, and 20 years of monitoring). AM resulted in more convenience than PM, even after 5 years, in terms of O3 depletion, global warming, and photochemical O3 creation potential, suggesting that passive monitoring of ozone is not environmentally sustainable, especially for long time periods. AM led to savings ranging from a minimum of EUR 9650 in 5 years up to EUR 94,796 in 20 years in evergreen forests. The resulting social cost of PM was always higher than that of AM. The present evaluation will help in the decision process for the set-up of long-term forest monitoring sites dedicated to the protection of forests from O3. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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Review
Secrets of the Astute Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes, Linnaeus, 1758): An Inside-Ecosystem Secret Agent Serving One Health
Environments 2021, 8(10), 103; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8100103 - 08 Oct 2021
Viewed by 287
Abstract
An ecosystem’s health is based on a delicate balance between human, nonhuman animal, and environmental health. Any factor that leads to an imbalance in one of the components results in disease. There are several bioindicators that allow us to evaluate the status of [...] Read more.
An ecosystem’s health is based on a delicate balance between human, nonhuman animal, and environmental health. Any factor that leads to an imbalance in one of the components results in disease. There are several bioindicators that allow us to evaluate the status of ecosystems. The red fox (Vulpes vulpes, Linnaeus, 1758) has the widest world distribution among mammals. It is highly adaptable, lives in rural and urban areas, and has a greatly diverse diet. Being susceptible to environmental pollution and zoonotic agents, red foxes may act as sentinels to detect environmental contaminants, climatic changes and to prevent and control outbreaks of emerging or re-emerging zoonosis. This paper aims to compile the latest information that is related to the red fox as a sentinel of human, animal, and environmental health. Full article
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Article
Antifungal Activity of Earthworm Coelomic Fluid Obtained from Eisenia andrei, Dendrobaena veneta and Allolobophora chlorotica on Six Species of Phytopathogenic Fungi
Environments 2021, 8(10), 102; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8100102 - 03 Oct 2021
Viewed by 300
Abstract
The functioning of soil ecosystems greatly depends on the interactions occurring between soil biota communities. It is well known that earthworms are an important soil component that substantially affects its function, including their meaningful impact on the development of different phytopathogenic soil fungi. [...] Read more.
The functioning of soil ecosystems greatly depends on the interactions occurring between soil biota communities. It is well known that earthworms are an important soil component that substantially affects its function, including their meaningful impact on the development of different phytopathogenic soil fungi. Phytopathogenic fungi are responsible for crop disease and cause great economic damage. It has previously been established that earthworms’ coelomic fluid can suppress the growth of phytopathogenic fungi, but the exact molecular mechanism is unknown. The present study aimed at broadening the proof of this observed phenomenon by investigating the effects of the coelomic fluid extract of three different earthworm species (Eisenia andrei, Dendrobaena veneta and Allolobophora chlorotica) on the growth of six different phytopathogenic fungi species (Berkeleyomyces basicola, Fusarium culmorum, Globisporangium irregulare, Rhizoctonia solani, Macrophomina phaseolina, and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum). Coelomic fluid extract was obtained by electrostimulation or usage of extraction buffer (only in case of A. chlorotica) and prepared in three different concentrations by diluting the obtained coelomic fluid with physiological saline. The coelomic fluid extract of the three investigated earthworm species had an inhibitory effect on the growth of all six phytopathogenic fungi species. The greatest inhibitory effect was achieved with the E. andrei coelomic fluid extract reducing the growth of R. solani fungi. The findings of this research confirm the antifungal activity of coelomic fluid obtained from earthworm species belonging to different ecological categories and may be of potential use in crop protection against phytopathogenic fungi. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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Article
Polystyrene Nanoplastic Behavior and Toxicity on Crustacean Daphnia magna: Media Composition, Size, and Surface Charge Effects
Environments 2021, 8(10), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8100101 - 28 Sep 2021
Viewed by 486
Abstract
Concerns about the possible ecotoxicological implications of nano-sized plastic materials in the freshwater environment are growing with the increasing use of plastic materials. The present study focuses on the behavior and effects of amidine-functionalized polystyrene (NPLs) of 20, 40, 60, and 100-nm-size in [...] Read more.
Concerns about the possible ecotoxicological implications of nano-sized plastic materials in the freshwater environment are growing with the increasing use of plastic materials. The present study focuses on the behavior and effects of amidine-functionalized polystyrene (NPLs) of 20, 40, 60, and 100-nm-size in freshwaters and different synthetic media. Daphnia magna was exposed to increasing concentrations from 0.5 to 30 mg/L (and from 0.5 to 100 mg/L for 100-nm-sized NPLs). The results revealed no significant aggregation in ultra-pure water, culture media, and synthetic water. In the presence of natural organic matter, NPLs of 20 and 40 nm displayed better stability in both freshwater and synthetic media, whereas a significant aggregation of 60 and 100 nm PS NPLs was found. All the studied PS NPLs with size between 20 and 100 nm exhibited acute toxicity to D. magna. The observed 48-h immobilization strongly depended on the primary size of PS NPLs, with 20 and 40-nm-size PS NPLs inducing a stronger effect in both freshwaters and synthetic media. Water quality variables such as pH, cation and anion composition, and DOC were of secondary importance. The results of the present study confirmed the toxicity of NPLs of different sizes to crustaceans in natural freshwater and synthetic media and demonstrated the importance of the primary size of NPLs in the behavior and effects of NPLs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plastic Contamination: Challenges and Solutions)
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Editorial
Groundwater Quality and Groundwater Vulnerability Assessment
Environments 2021, 8(10), 100; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8100100 - 26 Sep 2021
Viewed by 542
Abstract
Groundwater is a valuable and finite resource covering only 30% of the freshwater (3% of the total volume of water) on Earth [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Groundwater Quality and Groundwater Vulnerability Assessment)
Article
Design of Machine Learning Prediction System Based on the Internet of Things Framework for Monitoring Fine PM Concentrations
Environments 2021, 8(10), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8100099 - 24 Sep 2021
Viewed by 431
Abstract
In this study, a mobile air pollution sensing unit based on the Internet of Things framework was designed for monitoring the concentration of fine particulate matter in three urban areas. This unit was developed using the NodeMCU-32S microcontroller, PMS5003-G5 (particulate matter sensing module), [...] Read more.
In this study, a mobile air pollution sensing unit based on the Internet of Things framework was designed for monitoring the concentration of fine particulate matter in three urban areas. This unit was developed using the NodeMCU-32S microcontroller, PMS5003-G5 (particulate matter sensing module), and Ublox NEO-6M V2 (GPS positioning module). The sensing unit transmits data of the particulate matter concentration and coordinates of a polluted location to the backend server through 3G and 4G telecommunication networks for data collection. This system will complement the government’s PM2.5 data acquisition system. Mobile monitoring stations meet the air pollution monitoring needs of some areas that require special observation. For example, an AIoT development system will be installed. At intersections with intensive traffic, it can be used as a reference for government transportation departments or environmental inspection departments for environmental quality monitoring or evacuation of traffic flow. Furthermore, the particulate matter distributions in three areas, namely Xinzhuang, Sanchong, and Luzhou Districts, which are all in New Taipei City of Taiwan, were estimated using machine learning models, the data of stationary monitoring stations, and the measurements of the mobile sensing system proposed in this study. Four types of learning models were trained, namely the decision tree, random forest, multilayer perceptron, and radial basis function neural network, and their prediction results were evaluated. The root mean square error was used as the performance indicator, and the learning results indicate that the random forest model outperforms the other models for both the training and testing sets. To examine the generalizability of the learning models, the models were verified in relation to data measured on three days: 15 February, 28 February, and 1 March 2019. A comparison between the model predicted and the measured data indicates that the random forest model provides the most stable and accurate prediction values and could clearly present the distribution of highly polluted areas. The results of these models are visualized in the form of maps by using a web application. The maps allow users to understand the distribution of polluted areas intuitively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Air Pollution in Urban and Industrial Areas)
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Perspective
A Brief Perspective on Environmental Science in the Anthropocene: Recalibrating, Rethinking and Re-Evaluating to Meet the Challenge of Complexity
Environments 2021, 8(10), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8100098 - 23 Sep 2021
Viewed by 508
Abstract
A convincing case has been made that the scale of human activity has reached such pervasiveness that humans are akin to a force of nature. How environmental science responds to the many new challenges of the Anthropocene is at the forefront of the [...] Read more.
A convincing case has been made that the scale of human activity has reached such pervasiveness that humans are akin to a force of nature. How environmental science responds to the many new challenges of the Anthropocene is at the forefront of the field. The aim of this perspective is to describe Anthropocene as a concept and a time period and discuss its relevance to the contemporary study of environmental science. Specifically, we consider areas in environmental science which may need to be revisited to adjust to complexity of the new era: (a) recalibrate the idea of environmental baselines as Anthropogenic baselines; (b) rethink multiple stressor approaches to recognize a system under flux; (c) re-evaluate the relationship of environmental science with other disciplines, particularly Earth Systems Science, but also social sciences and humanities. The all-encompassing nature of the Anthropocene necessitates the need to revise and reorganize to meet the challenge of complexity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2020)
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Article
Analysis of the Airflow Generated by Human Activity Using a Mobile Slipstream Measuring Device
Environments 2021, 8(10), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8100097 - 23 Sep 2021
Viewed by 328
Abstract
Human activities, including walking, generate an airflow, commonly known as the slipstream, which can disperse contaminants indoors and transmit infection to other individuals. It is important to understand the characteristics of airflow to prevent the dissemination of contaminants such as viruses. A cylinder [...] Read more.
Human activities, including walking, generate an airflow, commonly known as the slipstream, which can disperse contaminants indoors and transmit infection to other individuals. It is important to understand the characteristics of airflow to prevent the dissemination of contaminants such as viruses. A cylinder of diameter 500 mm, which is the average shoulder width of an adult male, was installed in a motorcar and moved at a velocity of 1.2 m/s, which is the walking speed of an adult male. The velocity profile of the slipstream generated during this movement was measured by locating the sensor support at 0.15–2.0 m behind the cylinder. The wind velocity was set to 1.2 m/s to conduct the numerical analysis. The measurement data revealed the velocity profile of the space behind the cylinder, and a comparison of the numerical analysis and the measurement results indicate very similar u (measured velocity)/U (moving velocity) results, with a maximum difference of 0.066, confirming that the measured values were correctly estimated from the results of the numerical analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality)
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