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Environments, Volume 9, Issue 4 (April 2022) – 13 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Phytoplankton species are exposed to cocktails of environmental pollutants, including engineered nanoparticles and metallic pollutants. Examination of the time course of the interactions between nano-sized titania with different primary particle sizes, algae, and inorganic mercury under settings that were representative of a highly contaminated environment revealed that nano-sized titania adsorb mercury and reduce its adsorption and absorption by green algae. The observed effects were dependent on the primary size of nano-sized titania. Green algae and nanomaterials are used in the removal of hazardous heavy metals from contaminated waters; thus, the outcomes of the present study have important implications for the development of efficient bioremediation technology for Hg. View this paper
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Review
What Is Worth Knowing in Interventional Practices about Medical Staff Radiation Exposure Monitoring: A Review of Recent Outcomes of EURADOS Working Group 12
Environments 2022, 9(4), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9040053 - 18 Apr 2022
Viewed by 3136
Abstract
EURADOS (European Radiation Dosimetry Group) Working Group 12 (WG12) SG1 activities are aimed at occupational radiation protection and individual monitoring in X-ray and nuclear medicine practices. In recent years, many studies have been carried out in these fields, especially for interventional radiology and [...] Read more.
EURADOS (European Radiation Dosimetry Group) Working Group 12 (WG12) SG1 activities are aimed at occupational radiation protection and individual monitoring in X-ray and nuclear medicine practices. In recent years, many studies have been carried out in these fields, especially for interventional radiology and cardiology workplaces (IC/IR). The complexity of the exposure conditions of the medical staff during interventional practices makes the radiation protection and monitoring of the exposed workers a challenging task. The scope of the present work is to review some of the main results obtained within WG12 activities about scattered field characterization and personal dosimetry that could be very useful in increasing the quality of radiation protection of the personnel, safety, and awareness of radiation risk. Two papers on Monte Carlo modelling of interventional theater and three papers on active personal dosimeters (APDs) for personnel monitoring were considered in the review. More specifically, Monte Carlo simulation was used as the main tool to characterize the levels of exposure of the medical staff, allowing to determine how beam energy and direction can have an impact on the doses received by the operators. Indeed, the simulations provided information about the exposure of the operator’s head, and the study concluded with the determination of an eye-lens protection factor when protection goggles and a ceiling shielding are used. Moreover, the review included the results of studies on active personal dosimeters, their use in IC/IR workplaces, and how they respond to calibration fields, with X-ray standard and pulsed beams. It was shown that APDs are insensitive to backscatter radiation, but some of them could not respond correctly to the very intense pulsed fields (as those next to the patient in interventional practices). The measurements during interventional procedures showed the potential capability of the employment of APDs in hospitals. Full article
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Review
Microbial Involvement in the Bioremediation of Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon Polluted Soils: Challenges and Perspectives
Environments 2022, 9(4), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9040052 - 15 Apr 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3596
Abstract
Nowadays, soil contamination by total petroleum hydrocarbons is still one of the most widespread forms of contamination. Intervention technologies are consolidated; however, full-scale interventions turn out to be not sustainable. Sustainability is essential not only in terms of costs, but also in terms [...] Read more.
Nowadays, soil contamination by total petroleum hydrocarbons is still one of the most widespread forms of contamination. Intervention technologies are consolidated; however, full-scale interventions turn out to be not sustainable. Sustainability is essential not only in terms of costs, but also in terms of restoration of the soil resilience. Bioremediation has the possibility to fill the gap of sustainability with proper knowledge. Bioremediation should be optimized by the exploitation of the recent “omic” approaches to the study of hydrocarburoclastic microbiomes. To reach the goal, an extensive and deep knowledge in the study of bacterial and fungal degradative pathways, their interactions within microbiomes and of microbiomes with the soil matrix has to be gained. “Omic” approaches permits to study both the culturable and the unculturable soil microbial communities active in degradation processes, offering the instruments to identify the key organisms responsible for soil contaminant depletion and restoration of soil resilience. Tools for the investigation of both microbial communities, their degradation pathways and their interaction, will be discussed, describing the dedicated genomic and metagenomic approaches, as well as the interpretative tools of the deriving data, that are exploitable for both optimizing bio-based approaches for the treatment of total petroleum hydrocarbon contaminated soils and for the correct scaling up of the technologies at the industrial scale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Remediation)
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Review
Tritium: Doses and Responses of Aquatic Living Organisms (Model Experiments)
Environments 2022, 9(4), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9040051 - 14 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3204
Abstract
Tritium is a byproduct of many radiochemical reactions in the nuclear industry, and its effects on aquatic organisms, particularly low-dose effects, deserve special attention. The low-dose effects of tritium on aquatic microbiota have been intensively studied using luminous marine bacteria as model microorganisms. [...] Read more.
Tritium is a byproduct of many radiochemical reactions in the nuclear industry, and its effects on aquatic organisms, particularly low-dose effects, deserve special attention. The low-dose effects of tritium on aquatic microbiota have been intensively studied using luminous marine bacteria as model microorganisms. Low-dose physiological activation has been demonstrated and explained by the signaling role of reactive oxygen species through the “bystander effect” in bacterial suspensions. The activation of microbial functions in natural reservoirs by low tritium concentrations can cause unpredictable changes in food chains and imbalances in the natural equilibrium. The incorporation of tritium from the free form into organically bound compounds mainly occurs in the dark and at a temperature of 25 °C. When tritium is ingested by marine animals, up to 56% of tritium is accumulated in the muscle tissue and up to 36% in the liver. About 50% of tritium in the liver is bound in non-exchangeable forms. Human ingestion of water and food products contaminated with background levels of tritium does not significantly contribute to the total dose load on the human body. Full article
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Article
FMECA Application in Tomotherapy: Comparison between Classic and Fuzzy Methodologies
Environments 2022, 9(4), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9040050 - 10 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2745
Abstract
Accident analysis in radiotherapy highlighted the need to increase quality assurance (QA) programs by the identification of failures/errors with very low probability (rare event) but very severe consequences. In this field, a Failure Mode, Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA) technique, used in various [...] Read more.
Accident analysis in radiotherapy highlighted the need to increase quality assurance (QA) programs by the identification of failures/errors with very low probability (rare event) but very severe consequences. In this field, a Failure Mode, Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA) technique, used in various industrial processes to rank critical events, has been met with much interest. The literature describes different FMECA methods; however, it is necessary to understand if these tools are incisive and effective in the healthcare sector. In this work, comparisons of FMECA methodologies in the risk assessment of patients undergoing treatments performed with helical tomotherapy are reported. Failure modes identified for the phases “treatment planning” and “treatment execution” are classified using the Risk Priority Number (RPN) index. Differences and similarities in the classification of failures/errors of the examined FMECA approaches are highlighted. Full article
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Article
Field Test of Mini Photoionization Detector-Based Sensors—Monitoring of Volatile Organic Pollutants in Ambient Air
Environments 2022, 9(4), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9040049 - 10 Apr 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2898
Abstract
The determination of the concentrations of the organic compounds in ambient air using reference methods is a time-consuming process. The samples must be collected on a specific sorbent material and analyzed. In the best-case scenario, the analysis may be performed on site by [...] Read more.
The determination of the concentrations of the organic compounds in ambient air using reference methods is a time-consuming process. The samples must be collected on a specific sorbent material and analyzed. In the best-case scenario, the analysis may be performed on site by portable chromatography techniques; otherwise, transport and laboratory analysis is necessary. Continuous sensory measurement is advantageous, especially concerning speed, resolution, price and ease of use. On the other hand, questions are raised, especially on the subject of the quality of data obtained by sensory measurements. The authors tested several types of volatile organic compound (VOC) sensors. The chosen type was deployed in a 25-unit sensor network for further testing by parallel measurements with the reference technique within the CLAIRO project. Full article
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Editorial
Monitoring and Management of Inland Waters
Environments 2022, 9(4), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9040048 - 09 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2408
Abstract
Inland waters are important ecosystems for both their biodiversity and the services they provide to humans [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring and Management of Inland Waters)
Article
Understanding the Accuracy Limitations of Quantifying Methane Emissions Using Other Test Method 33A
Environments 2022, 9(4), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9040047 - 06 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2529
Abstract
Researchers have utilized Other Test Method (OTM) 33A to quantify methane emissions from natural gas infrastructure. Historically, errors have been reported based on a population of measurements compared to known controlled releases of methane. These errors have been reported as 2σ errors [...] Read more.
Researchers have utilized Other Test Method (OTM) 33A to quantify methane emissions from natural gas infrastructure. Historically, errors have been reported based on a population of measurements compared to known controlled releases of methane. These errors have been reported as 2σ errors of ±70%. However, little research has been performed on the minimum attainable uncertainty of any one measurement. We present two methods of uncertainty estimation. The first was the measurement uncertainty of the state-of-the-art equipment, which was determined to be ±3.8% of the estimate. This was determined from bootstrapped measurements compared to controlled releases. The second approach of uncertainty estimation was a modified Hollinger and Richardson (H&R) method which was developed for quantifying the uncertainty of eddy covariance measurements. Using a modified version of this method applied to OTM 33A measurements, it was determined that uncertainty of any given measurement was ±17%. Combining measurement uncertainty with that of stochasticity produced a total minimum uncertainty of 17.4%. Due to the current nature of stationary single-sensor measurements and the stochasticity of atmospheric data, such uncertainties will always be present. This is critical in understanding the transport of methane emissions and indirect measurements obtained from the natural gas industry. Full article
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Editorial
Soil Pollution Assessment and Sustainable Remediation Strategies
Environments 2022, 9(4), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9040046 - 04 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3157
Abstract
When the presence of a chemical in soil affects humans or other living organisms, producing undesired effects, that soil is considered polluted [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Pollution Assessment and Sustainable Remediation Strategies)
Article
Stabilisation of Ozone in Water for Microbial Disinfection
Environments 2022, 9(4), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9040045 - 01 Apr 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3688
Abstract
In current times of increasing global decontamination concerns, sustainable and environmentally-friendly technologies that possess rapid and effective disinfection capabilities are necessary for public health and safety. In this study, we evaluate the potential of ozone-based technology to reveal its immense potential in disinfection [...] Read more.
In current times of increasing global decontamination concerns, sustainable and environmentally-friendly technologies that possess rapid and effective disinfection capabilities are necessary for public health and safety. In this study, we evaluate the potential of ozone-based technology to reveal its immense potential in disinfection applications. Ozonated water generated by an electrolytic method was utilised to quantify ozone retention as a function of mineralogical composition for microbial decontamination. The impacts of temperature and detergent concentration on ozone concentration are critically analysed, as well as ozone’s decomposition and stain removal characteristics. In addition, fabric swatches inoculated with known concentrations of environmental microbes (Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, and Aspergillus fumigatus) are washed with ozonated water to ascertain the impact of wash duration on bacterial removal efficiency. The results show significant improvement in the stability and retention potential of ozone in mineral water at low temperature and in the presence of a detergent. The experiments demonstrate first-order decomposition kinetics of ozone in aqueous formulations. The disinfection potency of ozone is also substantiated by a significant removal of microbiota on the fabric utilised (up to 7 log reduction for the bacteria analysed), thus making it effective for sterilisation applications. This also reduces the need for toxic chemicals or chemicals with toxic by-products (e.g., chlorine) for large-scale decontamination operations in various industries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Sustainable Environmental Technologies)
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Article
Kinetic Aspects of the Interactions between TiO2 Nanoparticles, Mercury and the Green Alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii
Environments 2022, 9(4), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9040044 - 26 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2752
Abstract
Aquatic organisms are exposed to mixtures of environmental pollutants, including engineered nanoparticles; however, the interactions underlying cocktails’ effects are poorly understood, in particular, the kinetic aspects. The present study explored the time course of the interactions between nano-sized titanium dioxide (nTiO2) [...] Read more.
Aquatic organisms are exposed to mixtures of environmental pollutants, including engineered nanoparticles; however, the interactions underlying cocktails’ effects are poorly understood, in particular, the kinetic aspects. The present study explored the time course of the interactions between nano-sized titanium dioxide (nTiO2) with different primary particle sizes, algae and inorganic mercury (Hg) over 96 h under conditions that were representative of a highly contaminated environment. The results showed that nTiO2 with smaller primary particle size and higher concentrations rapidly reduced the adsorption and internalization of mercury by green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Such a mitigating effect on mercury bioavailability could be explained by the strong adsorbing capacity of nTiO2 for Hg and the aggregation and sedimentation of nTiO2 and bound Hg. The present study highlighted the key processes determining the bioavailability of mercury to the algae in mixture exposure under conditions representative of a highly contaminated environment, such as industrial wastewater effluents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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Article
Groundwater Hydrogeochemical and Quality Appraisal for Agriculture Irrigation in Greenbelt Area, Iraq
Environments 2022, 9(4), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9040043 - 25 Mar 2022
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3073
Abstract
This study highlights the groundwater hydrogeochemical characteristics and processes (hydrochemistry characteristics, ion exchange, and salinization) and quality suitability assessment for irrigation purposes from five wells in the Greenbelt area located in northwestern Al-Najaf Governorate, Iraq. The suitability of groundwater for irrigation was assessed [...] Read more.
This study highlights the groundwater hydrogeochemical characteristics and processes (hydrochemistry characteristics, ion exchange, and salinization) and quality suitability assessment for irrigation purposes from five wells in the Greenbelt area located in northwestern Al-Najaf Governorate, Iraq. The suitability of groundwater for irrigation was assessed based on the irrigation water quality index (IWQI) for thirteen parameters and groundwater quality indices such as total dissolved solids (TDS), electrical conductivity (EC), sodium adsorption ratio (SAR), soluble sodium percent (SSP), residual sodium carbonate (RSC), total hardness (TH), permeability index (PI), potential salinity (PS), Kelley’s ratio (KR), and magnesium hazard ratio (MHR). The IWQI’s average values ranged between 76–139. The results of IWQI for the first and second sampling sites showed values of 139 and 104, respectively, indicating that the groundwater was unsuitable and unsafe for irrigation. In contrast, the IWQI for the third, fourth, and fifth sites were 83, 97, and 76, respectively, indicating that the groundwater was safe and possibly used for irrigation. The EC, TDS, PS, and MHR indices were all found to be unsuitable for irrigation in all five sites, and the KR index was also found to be unsuitable for agricultural irrigation in about 80% of the sites, while it was found that the indices of SAR, SSP, RSC, PI, and TH for all sites were suitable and safe for irrigation. As a result of this study, it has been determined that groundwater in the study area is unsuitable for agricultural irrigation. For sustainable groundwater exploitation, it is advised that a continuous water-quality-monitoring program should be implemented, as well as the development of suitable management practices. Full article
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Article
Leaf-Level Spectroscopy for Analysis of Invasive Pest Impact on Trees in a Stressed Environment: An Example Using Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire) in Ash Trees (Fraxinus spp.), Kansas, USA
Environments 2022, 9(4), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9040042 - 24 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2790
Abstract
The most visible symptoms of emerald ash borer (EAB) (Argilus planipennis Fairmaire) infestation do not usually appear until six years after the borer’s arrival, by which time the prognosis is so grim that many communities have resorted to either heavy chemical use [...] Read more.
The most visible symptoms of emerald ash borer (EAB) (Argilus planipennis Fairmaire) infestation do not usually appear until six years after the borer’s arrival, by which time the prognosis is so grim that many communities have resorted to either heavy chemical use that only slows mortality, or clear-cutting the entire ash tree population. We utilized leaf-level spectroscopy for early detection of invasive pest-related stress, focusing on EAB as it reaches the edges of the geographic range for green and white ash trees (Fraxinus pennsylvanica and Fraxinus americana) in North America. Over the course of two full growing seasons, we sampled trees in three study areas with EAB infestation in Johnson County, Kansas, and two sample groups without infestation in Riley County, Kansas. Our method utilizes field spectrometer readings for reflectance, along with lab spectrophotometry for estimation of leaf chlorophyll and carotenoid content at several points during the growing season. Results show significant differences between pigment ratios and hyperspectral indicators between infested and non-infested ash trees, although the extent of the separation varies across the foliar season. This work has the potential to make stress diagnosis more effective, thereby improving response, and decreasing both chemical application and plant loss. Full article
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Article
A New Multi-Index Method for the Eutrophication Assessment in Transitional Waters: Large-Scale Implementation in Italian Lagoons
Environments 2022, 9(4), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9040041 - 24 Mar 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3000
Abstract
Eutrophication represents one of the most impacting threats for the ecological status and related ecosystem services of transitional waters; hence, its assessment plays a key role in the management of these ecosystems. A new multi-index method for eutrophication assessment, based on the ecological [...] Read more.
Eutrophication represents one of the most impacting threats for the ecological status and related ecosystem services of transitional waters; hence, its assessment plays a key role in the management of these ecosystems. A new multi-index method for eutrophication assessment, based on the ecological index MaQI (Macrophyte Quality Index), the trophic index TWQI (Transitional Water Quality Index), and physicochemical quality elements (sensu Dir. 2000/60/EC), was developed including both driver and impact indicators. The study presents a large-scale implementation of the method, which included more than 100 Italian lagoon sites, covering a wide variability of lagoon typologies and conditions. Overall, 35% of sites resulted in eutrophic status, 45% in mesotrophic, and 25% in oligotrophic status. Full article
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