Environments: 10 Years of Science Together

A special issue of Environments (ISSN 2076-3298).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2024 | Viewed by 5232

Special Issue Editor


E-Mail Website1 Website2 Website3
Guest Editor
1. Department of Science and Technology, Parthenope University of Naples, Centro Direzionale, Isola C4, 80143 Napoli, Italy
2. State Key Joint Laboratory of Environment Simulation and Pollution Control, School of Environment, Beijing Normal University, No. 19 Xinjiekouwai Street, Beijing 100875, China
Interests: life cycle assessment; energy–exergy–emergy; environmental impact assessment; circular economy; urban metabolism and sustainability; food and water security; disparity in access to energy sources; large efforts invested in energy and resource efficiency, prosperous way down, and environmental integrity
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

As the Editor-in-Chief of Environments, I am pleased to announce this Special Issue, entitled “Environments: 10 Years of Science Together”. With 2024 marking the 10th anniversary of Environments (ISSN: 2076-3298), we are taking this opportunity to celebrate the journal´s achievements over the last 10 years. Since 2014, when the inaugural issue of Environments was launched, we have published more than 1000 papers from more than 4600 authors. Environments is now indexed in Scopus, ESCI (Web of Science), and other databases—a clear demonstration of the huge interest and effort of readers, authors, reviewers, editors, and the Editorial Office Members. This Special Issue aims to cover the latest research and innovative developments on a broad range of environmental topics according to the keywords below indicated (and more). We warmly invite you to contribute original research papers or comprehensive review articles for peer-review and possible publication.

We look forward to receiving your valued contributions.

Prof. Dr. Sergio Ulgiati
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Environments is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • environmental conservation
  • environmental technologies and methodologies
  • environmental protection and pollution prevention
  • environmental modeling and technology
  • environmental management and policy
  • environmental impact and risk assessment
  • environmental change and conservation
  • environmental analysis and monitoring
  • ecosystem services, biodiversity, and natural capital
  • environmental economics
  • development and application of environmental data, information, tools, and decision support systems
  • systems thinking
  • energy transition
  • circular economy
  • climate change’s impacts on human health
  • population growth, resource demand, and Earth’s sustainability

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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13 pages, 586 KiB  
Article
Chronic Heat Exposure Modulates Innate and Adaptive Immune Responses in Firefighters
by Brijesh Yadav, Afzaal Nadeem Mohammed, Brittney Graham, Amit Bhattacharya and Jagjit Singh Yadav
Environments 2024, 11(6), 131; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11060131 - 19 Jun 2024
Viewed by 86
Abstract
Global fire activities, which are getting worse due to climate change, cause both environmental and human health hazards. Firefighters, being the first responders, are frequently exposed to heat which may impact their immune system and overall health. However, the nature of the impact [...] Read more.
Global fire activities, which are getting worse due to climate change, cause both environmental and human health hazards. Firefighters, being the first responders, are frequently exposed to heat which may impact their immune system and overall health. However, the nature of the impact of chronic heat exposure on immune function has not been studied in-depth in firefighters. In this study, 22 firefighters exposed to “heavy-smoke fires (structural fires)”, categorized as the “high-exposure group” (>0.15 structural fires/week) and “low-exposure group” (<0.15 structural fires/week), were sampled. Peripheral blood was examined for immune cell profile based on total and differential cell counts, immune function based on the transcriptional expression of drivers of innate and adaptive immunity and key inflammation mediators, and heat stress marker HSP70. The white blood cell (WBC) count, mean corpuscular volume, mean corpuscular hemoglobin, and absolute and segmented neutrophil counts decreased below the normal range in both exposure groups. The gene transcript levels for toll-like receptors (TLR2, TLR4, but not TLR7) and their adaptor protein MYD88 were lower whereas those for T-cell transcription factors (RORC/RORγ, FoxP3) and inflammatory mediators (TNF-α, Granzyme-B) were higher in the “high-exposure group”, indicating mixed response; however, the ratios between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory transcription factors of adaptive immunity, namely T-bet/FoxP3 (Th1/Treg) and RORC/FoxP3 (Th17/Treg), were lower. Collectively, decreased immune cell landscape, downregulated key innate immunity receptors, and Tregs’ dominance suggested that chronic heat exposure in firefighters dysregulated innate and adaptive immunity, skewed towards an overall immunosuppressive condition with inflammation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environments: 10 Years of Science Together)
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17 pages, 1826 KiB  
Article
Association between Combined Metals and PFAS Exposure with Dietary Patterns: A Preliminary Study
by Augustina Odediran and Emmanuel Obeng-Gyasi
Environments 2024, 11(6), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11060127 - 18 Jun 2024
Viewed by 214
Abstract
Background: The global burden of chronic diseases has been increasing, with evidence suggesting that diet and exposure to environmental pollutants, such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and heavy metals, may contribute to their development. The Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII) assesses the inflammatory [...] Read more.
Background: The global burden of chronic diseases has been increasing, with evidence suggesting that diet and exposure to environmental pollutants, such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and heavy metals, may contribute to their development. The Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII) assesses the inflammatory potential of an individual’s diet. However, the complex interplay between PFAS, heavy metals, and DII remains largely unexplored. Objective: The goal of this cross-sectional study was to investigate the associations between diet operationalized as the DII with individual and combined lead, cadmium, mercury, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) exposures using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2017–2018. Methods: Descriptive statistics, a correlational analysis, and linear regression were initially used to assess the relationship between the variables of interest. We subsequently employed Bayesian kernel Machine regression (BKMR) to analyze the data to assess the non-linear, non-additive, exposure–response relationships and interactions between PFAS and metals with the DII. Results: The multi-variable linear regression revealed significant associations between the DII and cadmium and mercury. Our BKMR analysis revealed a complex relationship between PFAS, metal exposures, and the DII. In our univariate exposure–response function plot, cadmium and mercury exhibited a positive and negative linear relationship, respectively, which indicated a positive and negative relationship across the spectrum of exposures with the DII. In addition, the bivariate exposure–response function between two exposures in a mixture revealed that cadmium had a robust positive relationship with the DII for different quantiles of lead, mercury, PFOA, and PFOS, indicating that increasing levels of cadmium are associated with the DII. Mercury’s bivariate plot demonstrated a negative relationship across all quantiles for all pollutants. Furthermore, the posterior inclusion probability (PIP) results highlighted the consistent importance of cadmium and mercury with the inflammatory potential of an individual’s diet, operationalized as the DII in our study, with both showing a PIP of 1.000. This was followed by PFOS with a PIP of 0.8524, PFOA at 0.5924, and lead, which had the lowest impact among the five environmental pollutants, with a PIP of 0.5596. Conclusion: Our study suggests that exposures to environmental metals and PFAS, particularly mercury and cadmium, are associated with DII. These findings also provide evidence of the intricate relationships between PFAS, heavy metals, and the DII. The findings underscore the importance of considering the cumulative effects of multi-pollutant exposures. Future research should focus on elucidating the mechanistic pathways and dose–response relationships underlying these associations in a study that examines causality, which will enable a deeper understanding of the dietary risks associated with environmental pollutants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environments: 10 Years of Science Together)
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29 pages, 1672 KiB  
Article
Seeding Density Alters the Assembly of a Restored Plant Community after the Removal of a Dam in Southern Wisconsin, USA
by Ana J. Wells, John Harrington and Nick J. Balster
Environments 2024, 11(6), 115; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11060115 - 29 May 2024
Viewed by 261
Abstract
Recently exposed reservoir sediments, prone to colonization by invasive species, provide novel settings to test hypotheses related to soil conditions and propagule supply as potential drivers of plant assembly in disturbed ecosystems. We used a dam removal site in southwestern Wisconsin to examine [...] Read more.
Recently exposed reservoir sediments, prone to colonization by invasive species, provide novel settings to test hypotheses related to soil conditions and propagule supply as potential drivers of plant assembly in disturbed ecosystems. We used a dam removal site in southwestern Wisconsin to examine the relationship between the physiochemical properties of dewatered sediments, seeding density, and plant community assembly. The plant communities from five seed densities (1000, 500, 250, 125, and 0 seed m2) were annually assessed over four years. We hypothesized (1) that the native aboveground biomass and the proportion of native to invasive (non-seeded species) aboveground biomass would increase with the seeding density and (2) that the diversity of seeded native species would increase with a higher seeding density. We found evidence that sowing at least 500 seeds m2 of prairie species increased their abundance, establishment, and plot diversity compared to non-seeded plants that persisted four years after seeding (p < 0.05). The seeding density treatments led to the assembly of two distinct communities: “native” and “invasive”. The “native” community, assembled in plots seeded with at least 500 seeds m2, had a greater aboveground biomass and diversity (i.e., richness) of seeded plants compared to plots with lower seed densities, and its productivity was positively related to this richness. In the “weedy” community, the diversity of invasive species had no relationship to their aboveground biomass, likely because these species share similar traits (i.e., redundancy) and may have performed similar functions within the plant community. These findings suggest that the seeding density interacted with the disturbed soil resources to increase the diversity and productivity of seeded native species and may serve as a positive feedback mechanism for the establishment of native communities in dewatered sediments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environments: 10 Years of Science Together)
20 pages, 4512 KiB  
Article
Flexible Green Ammonia Production Plants: Small-Scale Simulations Based on Energy Aspects
by Guillermo de la Hera, Gema Ruiz-Gutiérrez, Javier R. Viguri and Berta Galán
Environments 2024, 11(4), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11040071 - 2 Apr 2024
Viewed by 2104
Abstract
The conventional Haber–Bosch process (HBP) for NH3 production results in CO2 emissions of almost 400 Mt/y and is responsible for 1–2% of global energy consumption; furthermore, HBP requires large-scale industrial equipment. Green or e-ammonia produced with hydrogen from alkaline water electrolysis [...] Read more.
The conventional Haber–Bosch process (HBP) for NH3 production results in CO2 emissions of almost 400 Mt/y and is responsible for 1–2% of global energy consumption; furthermore, HBP requires large-scale industrial equipment. Green or e-ammonia produced with hydrogen from alkaline water electrolysis using renewable energy and nitrogen from the air is considered an alternative to fossil-fuel-based ammonia production. Small-scale plants with the distributed on-site production of e-ammonia will begin to supplant centralized manufacturing in a carbon-neutral framework due to its flexibility and agility. In this study, a flexible small-scale NH3 plant is analyzed with respect to three steps—H2 generation, air separation, and NH3 synthesis—to understand if milder operating conditions can benefit the process. This study investigates the aspects of flexible small-scale NH3 plants powered by alkaline electrolyzer units with three specific capacities: 1 MW, 5 MW, and 10 MW. The analysis is carried out through Aspen Plus V14 simulations, and the primary criteria for selecting the pressure, temperature, and number of reactors are based on the maximum ammonia conversion and minimum energy consumption. The results show that: (i) the plant can be operated across a wide range of process variables while maintaining low energy consumption and (ii) alkaline electrolysis is responsible for the majority of energy consumption, followed by the ammonia synthesis loop and the obtention of N2, which is negligible. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environments: 10 Years of Science Together)
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Review

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18 pages, 1164 KiB  
Review
A Review of the Multi-Stakeholder Process for Salmon Recovery and Scenario Mapping onto Stability Landscapes
by Gregory M. Hill and Steven A. Kolmes
Environments 2024, 11(6), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11060120 - 6 Jun 2024
Viewed by 269
Abstract
We review and draw distinctions between positions held by various federal agencies, tribal agencies, and civil society organizations to identify distinct stakeholder scenarios for salmonid recovery in the Columbia River Basin. We view the Columbia River Basin through a resilience lens from the [...] Read more.
We review and draw distinctions between positions held by various federal agencies, tribal agencies, and civil society organizations to identify distinct stakeholder scenarios for salmonid recovery in the Columbia River Basin. We view the Columbia River Basin through a resilience lens from the point of view of the resident endangered salmonid populations. Using the resilience concept of multiple stable states we describe a stability landscape for the basin as a social–ecological system. We use a shared stability landscape as a common locus for mapping and comparing multiple scenarios representing distinct stakeholder perspectives of pathways towards salmon recovery. We found that the potential of using this approach goes well beyond the specifics of the Columbia River Basin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environments: 10 Years of Science Together)
46 pages, 6949 KiB  
Review
Fin Whale Balaenoptera physalus Historical Sightings and Strandings, Ship Strikes, Breeding Areas and Other Threats in the Mediterranean Sea: A Review (1624–2023)
by Rocío Espada, Adrián Camacho-Sánchez, Liliana Olaya-Ponzone, Estefanía Martín-Moreno, Daniel Patón and José Carlos García-Gómez
Environments 2024, 11(6), 104; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11060104 - 21 May 2024
Viewed by 682
Abstract
A review of the last 399 years (1624–2023) on fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) in the Mediterranean Sea was conducted, based on an extensive compilation of records published in the scientific literature, technical reports, public databases, journals, and social media. A total [...] Read more.
A review of the last 399 years (1624–2023) on fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) in the Mediterranean Sea was conducted, based on an extensive compilation of records published in the scientific literature, technical reports, public databases, journals, and social media. A total of 10,716 sightings and 575 mortality events have been computed, analysed by semesters and mapped in order to compare the summer–winter seasons especially and their implications on migration–residence. Visual and acoustic detections, feedings, migrations, primary production areas (chlorophyll), threats and causes of death and their relations have been addressed, and a mini-review on heavy metals and pollutants has been carried out on fin whales in the Mediterranean Sea. Mortality events were most frequent between November and April, coinciding with the decreased sighting period. Ship strikes posed the greatest threat, peaking between May and October, when marine traffic tends to increase in the Mediterranean Sea. Two populations coexist in the Mediterranean Sea, one resident and the other migratory, the latter using the Strait of Gibraltar for its biannual movements. Two areas with a presence of calves (up to 7 m in length) between October and February were detected: one scattered in the northern Mediterranean and the Strait of Gibraltar and its surroundings. A critical zone for collisions has been established according to the results for fin whales in the Mediterranean Sea. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environments: 10 Years of Science Together)
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22 pages, 1772 KiB  
Review
Mine Site Restoration: The Phytoremediation of Arsenic-Contaminated Soils
by Feizia Huslina, Leadin S. Khudur, Kalpit Shah, Aravind Surapaneni, Pacian Netherway and Andrew S. Ball
Environments 2024, 11(5), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050099 - 9 May 2024
Viewed by 993
Abstract
Arsenic (As) is considered one of the most toxic chemicals to both human and environmental health. Mining activities represent one of the main anthropogenic sources of As; the concentration of As in mine soil can reach 9300 mg kg−1. To overcome [...] Read more.
Arsenic (As) is considered one of the most toxic chemicals to both human and environmental health. Mining activities represent one of the main anthropogenic sources of As; the concentration of As in mine soil can reach 9300 mg kg−1. To overcome the major issue of soil As pollution, soil restoration is required. Biological restoration approaches are generally more cost-effective and environmentally sustainable than physical and chemical methods. In particular, phytoremediation, an environmentally friendly technique based on the use of plants to uptake contaminants from soil, has been successfully implemented to restore As-contaminated soils at mine sites. However, mine soils are generally depleted in essential plant nutrients, such as nitrogen (N). Recent research suggests that phytoremediation can be combined with other techniques (physical, chemical, and biological) to enhance the N content and plant biomass. The aim of this review is to assess the current state of knowledge in the field of the restoration of arsenic-impacted mine site soils, focusing on phytoremediation. We critically assess recent work examining the potential of the co-application of amendments with phytoremediation and identify promising technologies and key research gaps. More studies are required to test the effectiveness of using various soil additives to enhance the phytoremediation of As, not only in pot-scale experiments but also in the field, to enable an improved management strategy for mine site restoration in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environments: 10 Years of Science Together)
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