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Topical Collection "COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment"

Editors

Prof. Dr. Jeffrey L. Ram
E-Mail Website
Collection Editor
Department of Physiology and Associate, Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Immunology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48201, USA
Interests: biodiversity; beach and wastewater detection and monitoring; ballast water treatment and monitoring; cell physiology; invasive species; reproductive biology; SARS-CoV-2 surveillance
Prof. Dr. William D. Shuster
E-Mail Website
Collection Editor
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
Interests: civil infrastructure and social equity; stormwater and wastewater management; urban ecosystem services; urban hydrology
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Donna R. Kashian
E-Mail Website
Collection Editor
Director of Environmental Sciences and Professor of Biological Sciences, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
Interests: aquatic ecology; ecotoxicology; invasion ecology
Dr. Lance Gable
E-Mail Website
Collection Editor
Law School, Wayne State University, 471 W. Palmer St., Detroit, MI 48202, USA
Interests: public health law, ethics, and policy; international emergency preparedness; mental health; research ethics; and information privacy

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

The COVID-19 pandemic has permeated every aspect of life on the planet, including impacting the way we interact with the environment, the occurrence of markers of the disease in the environment, and ways in which the built, managed, and social environment affect its infectiousness, spread, and treatment.  While the health impacts on individuals are the most obvious and heart-rending aspect of this disease, it has also had broader impacts on and been affected by the environment. The direct and indirect environmental costs and, dare we say, benefits of this pandemic are enormous. In a little over a year in this pandemic, we have seen how changes in economic activity have in some cases improved the environment, encouraged outdoor recreation where social distancing can be maintained, and revealed how environmental measurements, such as that of wastewater, can give early warning and forecast the rise and fall of the disease in the community. Equally important are the engineered and social environments that researchers have found to be important in controlling the spread of the disease. Sharing public policy ideas about monitoring virus and redesigning environments may be critical to ending the pandemic. We therefore invite researchers who have developed significant new knowledge or scholarly reviews on inter-relationships of the COVID-19 pandemic and the environment to submit papers for inclusion in this Topical Collection for the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

This Topical Collection will feature a spectrum of articles about COVID-19 and the environment. Articles being solicited include those that address: (1) sanitary control of the disease, (2) impacts of building design and ventilation, (3) measurement of markers in wastewater (wastewater epidemiology), (4) environmental changes and outdoor nature recreation resulting from changed economic and social activity, and (5) any other environmental aspect impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic.

This Topical Collection will advance knowledge toward ending the pandemic and reveal data about its impacts on the environment. Further, this Topical Collection will inform practice, policy, and research needed to develop and nurture systems for proactively dealing with and managing future epidemics more effectively than has been the case for COVID-19.

Prof. Dr. Jeffrey L. Ram
Prof. Dr. William D. Shuster
Prof. Dr. Donna R. Kashian
Dr. Lance Gable
Collection  Editors

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 papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the collection 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. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly 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 2500 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

  • COVID-19
  • Public health
  • Building design
  • Ventilation
  • Wastewater monitoring
  • Economic activity
  • Environmental improvement and degradation
  • Interior design
  • Infection control
  • Built environment
  • Community outreach and communication
  • Sanitary control
  • Modelling environmental impacts on spread of disease
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Law and Ethics

Published Papers (10 papers)

2022

Jump to: 2021

Article
Detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in Bivalve Mollusks by Droplet Digital RT-PCR (dd RT-PCR)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(2), 943; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19020943 - 14 Jan 2022
Viewed by 251
Abstract
Bivalve shellfish are readily contaminated by human pathogens present in waters impacted by municipal sewage, and the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in feces of infected patients and in wastewater has drawn attention to the possible presence of the virus in bivalves. The aim of [...] Read more.
Bivalve shellfish are readily contaminated by human pathogens present in waters impacted by municipal sewage, and the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in feces of infected patients and in wastewater has drawn attention to the possible presence of the virus in bivalves. The aim of this study was to collect data on SARS-CoV-2 prevalence in bivalve mollusks from harvesting areas of Campania region. A total of 179 samples were collected between September 2019 and April 2021 and were tested using droplet digital RT-PCR (dd RT-PCR) and real-time RT-PCR. Combining results obtained with different assays, SARS-CoV-2 presence was detected in 27/179 (15.1%) of samples. A median viral concentration of 1.1 × 102 and 1.4 × 102 g.c./g was obtained using either Orf1b nsp14 or RdRp/gene E, respectively. Positive results were unevenly distributed among harvesting areas and over time, positive samples being more frequent after January 2021. Partial sequencing of the spike region was achieved for five samples, one of which displaying mutations characteristic of the Alpha variant (lineage B.1.1.7). This study confirms that bivalve mollusks may bioaccumulate SARS-CoV-2 to detectable levels and that they may represent a valuable approach to track SARS-CoV-2 in water bodies and to monitor outbreak trends and viral diversity. Full article
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Article
Assessment of Meteorological Variables and Air Pollution Affecting COVID-19 Cases in Urban Agglomerations: Evidence from China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(1), 531; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010531 - 04 Jan 2022
Viewed by 139
Abstract
The 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has become a severe public health and social problem worldwide. A limitation of the existing literature is that multiple environmental variables have not been frequently elaborated, which is why the overall effect of the environment on COVID-19 [...] Read more.
The 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has become a severe public health and social problem worldwide. A limitation of the existing literature is that multiple environmental variables have not been frequently elaborated, which is why the overall effect of the environment on COVID-19 has not been conclusive. In this study, we used generalized additive model (GAM) to detect the relationship between meteorological and air pollution variables and COVID-19 in four urban agglomerations in China and made comparisons among the urban agglomerations. The four urban agglomerations are Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (BTH), middle reaches of the Yangtze River (MYR), Yangtze River Delta (YRD), and the Pearl River Delta (PRD). The daily rates of average precipitation, temperature, relative humidity, sunshine duration, and atmospheric pressure were selected as meteorological variables. The PM2.5, PM10, sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), and carbon monoxide (CO) contents were selected as air pollution variables. The results indicated that meteorological and air pollution variables tended to be significantly correlated. Moreover, the nature of the relationship between severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and meteorological and air pollution variables (i.e., linear or nonlinear) varied with urban agglomerations. Among the variance explained by GAMs, BTH had the highest value (75.4%), while MYR had the lowest value (35.2%). The values of the YRD and PRD were between the above two, namely 45.6% and 62.2%, respectively. The findings showed that the association between SARS-CoV-2 and meteorological and air pollution variables varied in regions, making it difficult to obtain a relationship that is applicable to every region. Moreover, this study enriches our understanding of SARS-CoV-2. It is required to create awareness within the government that anti-COVID-19 measures should be adapted to the local meteorological and air pollution conditions. Full article
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Graphical abstract

2021

Jump to: 2022

Article
Mobility in Blue-Green Spaces Does Not Predict COVID-19 Transmission: A Global Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(23), 12567; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182312567 - 29 Nov 2021
Viewed by 604
Abstract
Mobility restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic ostensibly prevented the public from transmitting the disease in public places, but they also hampered outdoor recreation, despite the importance of blue-green spaces (e.g., parks and natural areas) for physical and mental health. We assess whether restrictions [...] Read more.
Mobility restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic ostensibly prevented the public from transmitting the disease in public places, but they also hampered outdoor recreation, despite the importance of blue-green spaces (e.g., parks and natural areas) for physical and mental health. We assess whether restrictions on human movement, particularly in blue-green spaces, affected the transmission of COVID-19. Our assessment uses a spatially resolved dataset of COVID-19 case numbers for 848 administrative units across 153 countries during the first year of the pandemic (February 2020 to February 2021). We measure mobility in blue-green spaces with planetary-scale aggregate and anonymized mobility flows derived from mobile phone tracking data. We then use machine learning forecast models and linear mixed-effects models to explore predictors of COVID-19 growth rates. After controlling for a number of environmental factors, we find no evidence that increased visits to blue-green space increase COVID-19 transmission. By contrast, increases in the total mobility and relaxation of other non-pharmaceutical interventions such as containment and closure policies predict greater transmission. Ultraviolet radiation stands out as the strongest environmental mitigant of COVID-19 spread, while temperature, humidity, wind speed, and ambient air pollution have little to no effect. Taken together, our analyses produce little evidence to support public health policies that restrict citizens from outdoor mobility in blue-green spaces, which corroborates experimental studies showing low risk of outdoor COVID-19 transmission. However, we acknowledge and discuss some of the challenges of big data approaches to ecological regression analyses such as this, and outline promising directions and opportunities for future research. Full article
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Article
Modeling Effects of Spatial Heterogeneities and Layered Exposure Interventions on the Spread of COVID-19 across New Jersey
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(22), 11950; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182211950 - 14 Nov 2021
Viewed by 662
Abstract
COVID-19 created an unprecedented global public health crisis during 2020–2021. The severity of the fast-spreading infection, combined with uncertainties regarding the physical and biological processes affecting transmission of SARS-CoV-2, posed enormous challenges to healthcare systems. Pandemic dynamics exhibited complex spatial heterogeneities across multiple [...] Read more.
COVID-19 created an unprecedented global public health crisis during 2020–2021. The severity of the fast-spreading infection, combined with uncertainties regarding the physical and biological processes affecting transmission of SARS-CoV-2, posed enormous challenges to healthcare systems. Pandemic dynamics exhibited complex spatial heterogeneities across multiple scales, as local demographic, socioeconomic, behavioral and environmental factors were modulating population exposures and susceptibilities. Before effective pharmacological interventions became available, controlling exposures to SARS-CoV-2 was the only public health option for mitigating the disease; therefore, models quantifying the impacts of heterogeneities and alternative exposure interventions on COVID-19 outcomes became essential tools informing policy development. This study used a stochastic SEIR framework, modeling each of the 21 New Jersey counties, to capture important heterogeneities of COVID-19 outcomes across the State. The models were calibrated using confirmed daily deaths and SQMC optimization and subsequently applied in predictive and exploratory modes. The predictions achieved good agreement between modeled and reported death data; counterfactual analysis was performed to assess the effectiveness of layered interventions on reducing exposures to SARS-CoV-2 and thereby fatality of COVID-19. The modeling analysis of the reduction in exposures to SARS-CoV-2 achieved through concurrent social distancing and face-mask wearing estimated that 357 [IQR (290, 429)] deaths per 100,000 people were averted. Full article
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Review
The Role of Micronutrients and Toxic Metals in the Management of Epidemics in Cambodia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(21), 11446; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111446 - 30 Oct 2021
Viewed by 882
Abstract
The illegal trade of wildlife in SE Asia has been identified as the likely cause of the COVID-19 pandemic. We reviewed 198 papers on the current COVID pandemic in Cambodia, diseases such as avian influenza and Nipah virus, most likely to develop into [...] Read more.
The illegal trade of wildlife in SE Asia has been identified as the likely cause of the COVID-19 pandemic. We reviewed 198 papers on the current COVID pandemic in Cambodia, diseases such as avian influenza and Nipah virus, most likely to develop into a new pandemic in Cambodia, and common features of disease that require mitigation. Artisanal goldmining uses pure mercury in the areas where wildlife is smuggled to China. Moreover, 30–40% of Cambodians are zinc deficient. High levels of arsenic in irrigation water (>1000 µg/L) are associated with very low levels of zinc in rice (5 µg/g) and rice is the primary staple food for the region. Brown rice from nine of 15 paddy fields in the arsenic zone of Cambodia had double the new guidelines of 100 µg/kg inorganic arsenic for children’s food in the EU and USA. The combination of deficiencies of essential micronutrients like zinc and pervasive presence of arsenic and mercury has the potential to compromise the immunity of many Cambodians. Innovative solutions are suggested to improve micronutrient nutrition. Toxins that suppress the immune system must be better managed to reduce the virulence of pathogens. Cambodia was not likely the source of the COVID-19 but does have problems that could result in a new pandemic. Full article
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Article
Posters as a Tool to Improve Hand Hygiene among Health Science Students: Case—Control Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(21), 11123; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111123 - 22 Oct 2021
Viewed by 745
Abstract
(1) Background: Numerous educational interventions have been conducted to improve hand hygiene (HH) compliance and effectiveness among nursing students, with mixed results. The aim is to evaluate the effectiveness of posters as a teaching tool and factors associated with HH quality. (2) Methods: [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Numerous educational interventions have been conducted to improve hand hygiene (HH) compliance and effectiveness among nursing students, with mixed results. The aim is to evaluate the effectiveness of posters as a teaching tool and factors associated with HH quality. (2) Methods: A pre-post experimental intervention study was conducted with a total of 293 nursing students randomly assigned to two groups (experimental and control) who, before and after HH, took cell culture samples from their non-dominant hands. Only the experimental group was exposed to the poster. (3) Results: In the experimental group, significant differences were observed among students older than 22 years (p = 0.017; V = 0.188), with a higher percentage of failures (15.7% vs. 3.6%). Poster displaying was associated with passing, other variables being equal, although without statistical significance (ORa = 2.07; 95% CI = 0.81–5.26). Pre-practice hand contamination was weakly associated with lower HH quality (ORa = 0.99, 95% CI = 0.99–0.99). (4) Conclusions: The use of posters as a teaching method shows indications of efficacy. Prior hand contamination slightly affects the quality of HH. Further evaluation of teaching methods is needed to ensure good technical performance of HH to prevent the spread of infectious diseases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Full article
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Article
Public Perception and Reception of Robotic Applications in Public Health Emergencies Based on a Questionnaire Survey Conducted during COVID-19
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(20), 10908; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182010908 - 17 Oct 2021
Viewed by 956
Abstract
Various intelligent technologies have been applied during COVID-19, which has become a worldwide public health emergency and brought significant challenges to the medical systems around the world. Notably, the application of robots has played a role in hospitals, quarantine facilities and public spaces [...] Read more.
Various intelligent technologies have been applied during COVID-19, which has become a worldwide public health emergency and brought significant challenges to the medical systems around the world. Notably, the application of robots has played a role in hospitals, quarantine facilities and public spaces and has attracted much attention from the media and the public. This study is based on a questionnaire survey on the perception and reception of robots used for medical care in the pandemic among the Chinese population. A total of 1667 people participated in the survey, 93.6% of respondents were pursuing or had completed a bachelor, master or even doctorate degree. The results show that Chinese people generally held positive attitudes towards “anti-pandemic robots” and affirmed their contribution to reducing the burden of medical care and virus transmission. A few respondents were concerned about the issues of robots replacing humans and it was apparent that their ethical views on robots were not completely consistent across their demographics (e.g., age, industry). Nevertheless, most respondents tended to be optimistic about robot applications and dialectical about the ethical issues involved. This is related to the prominent role robots played during the pandemic, the Chinese public’s expectations of new technologies and technology-friendly public opinion in China. Exploring the perception and reception of anti-pandemic robots in different countries or cultures is important because it can shed some light on the future applications of robots, especially in the field of infectious disease control. Full article
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Article
Using Social Media Data to Evaluate Urban Parks Use during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(20), 10860; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182010860 - 15 Oct 2021
Viewed by 618
Abstract
In the context of increasing urbanization and associated economic, social and environmental challenges, cities have increasingly acknowledged the importance of urban parks in delivering social, economic and environmental benefits to the population. The importance has been demonstrated also during the COVID-19 pandemic that [...] Read more.
In the context of increasing urbanization and associated economic, social and environmental challenges, cities have increasingly acknowledged the importance of urban parks in delivering social, economic and environmental benefits to the population. The importance has been demonstrated also during the COVID-19 pandemic that generated lockdowns and reduced the capacity of urban inhabitants in accessing such benefits. The present study aims to determine how the presence in urban parks was reflected on social media during the pandemic period of 2020. We examined Instagram posts associated with a sample of eight urban parks in Bucharest, Romania and also the entire history of Google reviews between January and August 2020. The selection of parks was made according to their size, location in Bucharest, previous reported number of visitors and profile of attractiveness. Results revealed that the peak period of the COVID-19 pandemic and the first initiation of the lockdowns strongly affected the recreation and leisure activities that people performed almost daily in the parks of Bucharest. Reviews and comments of the population were not that focused on the pandemic even after the restrictions were lifted, but they evidenced the positive and negative aspects of each park. Our results can represent a useful instrument for local administrations in determining both the flow of visitors but also their perceptions towards the endowments, landscape and most important management of urban parks. Full article
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Article
Green-Blue Spaces and Population Density versus COVID-19 Cases and Deaths in Poland
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(12), 6636; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18126636 - 20 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1076
Abstract
In the last year, in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, scientific papers have appeared in which the authors are trying to identify factors (including environmental) favoring the spread of this disease. This paper presents the spatial differentiation in [...] Read more.
In the last year, in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, scientific papers have appeared in which the authors are trying to identify factors (including environmental) favoring the spread of this disease. This paper presents the spatial differentiation in the total number of COVID-19 cases and deaths during the full year (March 2020–March 2021) of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in Poland versus green-blue spaces (green—i.a. forests, orchards, meadows and pastures, recreational and rest areas, biologically active arable land; blue—lakes and artificial water reservoirs, rivers, ecological areas and internal waters) and population density. The analysis covers 380 counties, including 66 cities. This study used daily reports on the progress of the pandemic in Poland published by the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Poland and unique, detailed data on 24 types of land use available in the Statistics Poland database. Statistical relationships were determined between the above-mentioned environmental variables and the variables characterizing COVID-19 (cases and deaths). Various basic types of regression models were analysed. The optimal model was selected, and the determination coefficient, significance level and the values of the parameters of these relationships, together with the estimation error, were calculated. The obtained results indicated that the higher the number of green-blue spaces in individual counties, the lower the total number of COVID-19 infections and deaths. These relationships were described by logarithmic and homographic models. In turn, an increase in the population density caused an increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths, according to the power model. These results can be used in the current analysis of the spread of the pandemic, including the location of potential outbreaks. In turn, the developed models can be used as a tool in forecasting the development of the pandemic and making decisions about the implementation of preventive measures. Full article
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Article
Transmission Dynamics, Heterogeneity and Controllability of SARS-CoV-2: A Rural–Urban Comparison
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(10), 5221; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18105221 - 14 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 996
Abstract
Few studies have examined the transmission dynamics of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in rural areas and clarified rural–urban differences. Moreover, the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) relative to vaccination in rural areas is uncertain. We addressed this knowledge gap through [...] Read more.
Few studies have examined the transmission dynamics of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in rural areas and clarified rural–urban differences. Moreover, the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) relative to vaccination in rural areas is uncertain. We addressed this knowledge gap through using an improved statistical stochastic method based on the Galton–Watson branching process, considering both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases. Data included 1136 SARS-2-CoV infections of the rural outbreak in Hebei, China, and 135 infections of the urban outbreak in Tianjin, China. We reconstructed SARS-CoV-2 transmission chains and analyzed the effectiveness of vaccination and NPIs by simulation studies. The transmission of SARS-CoV-2 showed strong heterogeneity in urban and rural areas, with the dispersion parameters k = 0.14 and 0.35, respectively (k < 1 indicating strong heterogeneity). Although age group and contact-type distributions significantly differed between urban and rural areas, the average reproductive number (R) and k did not. Further, simulation results based on pre-control parameters (R = 0.81, k = 0.27) showed that in the vaccination scenario (80% efficacy and 55% coverage), the cumulative secondary infections will be reduced by more than half; however, NPIs are more effective than vaccinating 65% of the population. These findings could inform government policies regarding vaccination and NPIs in rural and urban areas. Full article
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