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Special Issue "COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 28 January 2023 | Viewed by 36063

Special Issue 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

Special Issue 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 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. 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 (20 papers)

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Article
Ozone Eliminates SARS-CoV-2 from Difficult-to-Clean Office Supplies and Clinical Equipment
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(14), 8672; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19148672 - 16 Jul 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1144
Abstract
(1) Background: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2) continues to cause profound health, economic, and social problems worldwide. The management and disinfection of materials used daily in health centers and common working environments have prompted concerns about the control of coronavirus [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2) continues to cause profound health, economic, and social problems worldwide. The management and disinfection of materials used daily in health centers and common working environments have prompted concerns about the control of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection risk. Ozone is a powerful oxidizing agent that has been widely used in disinfection processes for decades. The aim of this study was to assess the optimal conditions of ozone treatment for the elimination of heat-inactivated SARS-CoV-2 from office supplies (personal computer monitors, keyboards, and computer mice) and clinical equipment (continuous positive airway pressure tubes and personal protective equipment) that are difficult to clean. (2) Methods: The office supplies and clinical equipment were contaminated in an area of 1 cm2 with 1 × 104 viral units of a heat-inactivated SARS-CoV-2 strain, then treated with ozone using two different ozone devices: a specifically designed ozonation chamber (for low–medium ozone concentrations over large volumes) and a clinical ozone generator (for high ozone concentrations over small volumes). SARS-CoV-2 gene detection was carried out using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). (3) Results: At high ozone concentrations over small surfaces, the ozone eliminated SARS-CoV-2 RNA in short time periods—i.e., 10 min (at 4000 ppm) or less. The optimum ozone concentration over large volumes was 90 ppm for 120 min in ambient conditions (24 °C and 60–75% relative humidity). (4) Conclusions: This study showed that the appropriate ozone concentration and exposure time eliminated heat-inactivated SARS-CoV-2 RNA from the surfaces of different widely used clinical and office supplies, decreasing their risk of transmission, and improving their reutilization. Ozone may provide an additional tool to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment)
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Article
Distance Learning Support Measures for Teachers in Poland during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(13), 8031; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19138031 - 30 Jun 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1771
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic made higher education institutions switch to distance learning in a very short period of time. The situation was challenging not only for universities themselves but also for the students and teachers. Some universities did not have the means, in terms [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic made higher education institutions switch to distance learning in a very short period of time. The situation was challenging not only for universities themselves but also for the students and teachers. Some universities did not have the means, in terms of infrastructure, for a smooth transition to distance learning. Some teachers were not prepared for the extensive usage of ICT in their work. The pandemic developed dynamically, and it made it extremely difficult for both governments and universities to plan and implement firm solutions on how to conduct the teaching process. The presented paper focuses on the situation of Polish higher education institutions between March 2020 and March 2022. It reviews legal acts and ordinances introduced in the stated period, which focused on the sustainability of the teaching process, countermeasures for the spread of COVID-19 and the implementation of distance learning. The case of the University of Economics in Katowice, Poland, is used to show the correlation between governmental legal acts and those introduced by the university as part of the COVID -19 spread prevention and teaching process support. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment)
Article
Are All Urban Parks Robust to the COVID-19 Pandemic? Focusing on Type, Functionality, and Accessibility
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(10), 6062; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19106062 - 16 May 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1040
Abstract
Many people visited urban parks during the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce the negative effects of lack of physical activity, social isolation, anxiety, and depression. It is unclear whether all parks are robust against the pandemic, helping people sustain healthy daily living through the [...] Read more.
Many people visited urban parks during the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce the negative effects of lack of physical activity, social isolation, anxiety, and depression. It is unclear whether all parks are robust against the pandemic, helping people sustain healthy daily living through the diverse activities within them. Nevertheless, few studies have identified the specific relationship between park visits and the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, this study aims to demonstrate how physical features such as type, functionality, and access influenced daily visiting to parks during the pandemic, using mobile phone data at a micro level. This study first classified urban parks as point-type parks with an area of less than 1 ha, plane-type parks with 1 ha or more, and line-type parks with elongated shapes, while measuring accessibility to residential, employment, transportation, and auxiliary facilities within the park. The study employed the multi-level regression model with random intercept to investigate the effects of differing park visits, focusing on Goyang city, South Korea. Our analysis results identified that easy access from home was more important than the park size during the pandemic. If we look at the types of parks, the use of both plane- and point-type parks increased more than that of line-type parks. However, line-type parks near homes, along with shopping and sports facilities, were found to be more robust to the pandemic. These findings can be informative to provide specific guidelines to fulfill the enhanced role of parks in sustaining public health during an infectious disease pandemic that may strike again. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment)
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Article
Green Transformation of Anti-Epidemic Supplies in the Post-Pandemic Era: An Evolutionary Approach
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(10), 6011; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19106011 - 15 May 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1085
Abstract
Post-pandemic, the use of medical supplies, such as masks, for epidemic prevention remains high. The explosive growth of medical waste during the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant environmental problems. To alleviate this, environment-friendly epidemic prevention measures should be developed, used, and promoted. However, [...] Read more.
Post-pandemic, the use of medical supplies, such as masks, for epidemic prevention remains high. The explosive growth of medical waste during the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant environmental problems. To alleviate this, environment-friendly epidemic prevention measures should be developed, used, and promoted. However, contradictions exist between governments, production enterprises, and medical institutions regarding the green transformation of anti-epidemic supplies. Consequently, this study aimed to investigate how to effectively guide the green transformation. Concerning masks, a tripartite evolutionary game model, consisting of governments, mask enterprises, and medical institutions, was established for the supervision of mask production and use, boundary conditions of evolutionary stabilization strategies and government regulations were analyzed, and a dynamic system model was used for the simulation analysis. This analysis revealed that the only tripartite evolutionary stability strategy is for governments to deregulate mask production, enterprises to increase eco-friendly mask production, and medical institutions to use these masks. From the comprehensive analysis, a few important findings are obtained. First, government regulation can promote the green transformation process of anti-epidemic supplies. Government should realize the green transformation of anti-epidemic supplies immediately in order to avoid severe reputation damage. Second, external parameter changes can significantly impact the strategy selection process of all players. Interestingly, it is further found that the cost benefit for using environmentally friendly masks has a great influence on whether green transformation can be achieved. Consequently, the government should establish a favorable marketplace for, and promote the development of, inexpensive, high-quality, and effective environmentally friendly masks in order to achieve the ultimate goal of green transformation of anti-epidemic supplies in the post-pandemic era. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment)
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Article
Impact of Socioeconomic Status on the Perception of Accessibility to and Quality of Healthcare Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic among Poles—Pilot Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(9), 5734; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19095734 - 08 May 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1272
Abstract
This pilot study was conducted on the reported hypothesis that the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak had an impact on the accessibility and quality of healthcare services and exacerbated socioeconomic inequalities. The aim was to determine whether economic status and education had an impact on [...] Read more.
This pilot study was conducted on the reported hypothesis that the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak had an impact on the accessibility and quality of healthcare services and exacerbated socioeconomic inequalities. The aim was to determine whether economic status and education had an impact on the perception of access and quality to healthcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic and whether, according to patients, accessibility and quality had changed significantly compared to the pre-pandemic period in Poland. The study was based on the authors’ questionnaire and the results were statistically analyzed. Two hundred forty-seven feedback responses were received with a responsiveness rate of 93 percent. Statistically significant differences were found when comparing education level and utilization of healthcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic. A comparison of gender and economic situation, and average monthly income found no statistically significant differences. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly affected the provision of health services in many countries around the world. One result of the pandemic crisis has been widening socioeconomic inequalities among patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment)
Article
Accessibility of Park Green Space in Wuhan, China: Implications for Spatial Equity in the Post-COVID-19 Era
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(9), 5440; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19095440 - 29 Apr 2022
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1807
Abstract
During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have seen the precious value of park green space for health. In the post-COVID-19 Era, it is essential to understand the different needs and expectations of different communities for the use of park green space. A myriad of [...] Read more.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have seen the precious value of park green space for health. In the post-COVID-19 Era, it is essential to understand the different needs and expectations of different communities for the use of park green space. A myriad of previous studies focused on the whole city’s demand for park green space, while few studies examined spatial equity from a supply-demand perspective. This paper aims to investigate the differences in park green space accessibility among people of different ages at a community scale. Specifically, to better evaluate the accessibility of park green space and account for the travel choice, we compared the effects of the two-step floating catchment area (2SFCA) method containing different distance decay functions (i.e., the improved 2SFCA methods) by considering the traffic network and the scale of park green space. In addition, we compared the improved 2SFCA methods with the traditional 2SFCA. This study investigated the spatial equity of park green space accessibility in 1184 communities with a total population of 6,468,612 in the central urban districts of Wuhan. The results showed that the high accessible communities were concentrated in the urban center along the Yangtze River. The improved 2SFCA methods outperformed the traditional 2SFCA, and presented smoother gradient information. It was revealed that over half of communities’ park green space accessibility levels did not match their population density. Inequality of accessibility to park green space was found in people of different ages, especially for the youth (Gini coefficient was as high as 0.83). The difference in the accessibility of urban park green space among different age structures implies the need to integrate community green space planning into urban planning in the post-COVID-19 Era. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment)
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Article
Has the Spread of African Swine Fever in the European Union Been Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(9), 5360; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19095360 - 28 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1085
Abstract
African Swine Fever (ASF) is a contagious viral disease of domestic and wild pigs, listed as notifiable by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). It causes substantial economic losses to pig farming in the affected countries, with consequent enormous damage to livestock [...] Read more.
African Swine Fever (ASF) is a contagious viral disease of domestic and wild pigs, listed as notifiable by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). It causes substantial economic losses to pig farming in the affected countries, with consequent enormous damage to livestock production due to mortality of the animals, and to the restrictions on national and international trade in pigs and derivative products that the presence of the infection implies. To prevent or reduce the risk of ASF introduction, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the OIE recommend preventive and control measures, such as the ban of live swine and their products traded from ASF-affected to ASF-free countries or zones. The current spread of ASF into Europe poses a serious risk to the industrialized and small-scale pig sector, as demonstrated by observed cases in different EU areas. In this paper the authors discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on ASF, and the indirect effects including the impact on animal health and disease management. They suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected animal disease surveillance control. ASF requires rapid responses and continuous monitoring to identify outbreaks and prevent their spread, and both aspects may have been greatly reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment)
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Article
Changes in Perceived Stress and Lifestyle Behaviors in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic in The Netherlands: An Online Longitudinal Survey Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(7), 4375; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19074375 - 05 Apr 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1262
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has substantial implications for physical and mental wellbeing. This study investigated changes, over time, in lifestyle behaviors and perceived stress during the initial phase of the pandemic and associations with COVID-19 symptoms, in the Dutch general population. An online longitudinal [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has substantial implications for physical and mental wellbeing. This study investigated changes, over time, in lifestyle behaviors and perceived stress during the initial phase of the pandemic and associations with COVID-19 symptoms, in the Dutch general population. An online longitudinal survey study was performed with pre-lockdown measurements in February, and subsequently in April and June 2020 (n = 259, mean age 59 ± 14 years, 59% women). Self-report questionnaires were used to assess weight, diet quality, physical activity, alcohol intake, and smoking. Perceived stress was measured using the validated perceived stress scale (PSS-10). The presence of COVID-19 symptoms (yes/no) was defined as fever, or >3 of the following symptoms: weakness/tiredness, muscle ache, dry cough, loss of smell/taste, and breathing difficulties. Data were analyzed using linear mixed models, adjusted for age, sex, educational level, marital status and (change in) employment status. Minimal increases over time were observed in alcohol intake (0.6 ± 0.7 to 0.7 ± 1.1 glasses/day, p = 0.001) and smoking (9.5 ± 8.7 to 10.9 ± 9.4 cigarettes/day among 10% smokers, p = 0.03), but other lifestyle behaviors remained stable. In April 2020, 15% reported COVID-19-related symptoms, and in June 2020, this was 10%. The presence of COVID-19 symptoms was associated with increased perceived stress (pinteraction = 0.003) and increased alcohol consumption (pinteraction = 0.03) over time. In conclusion, in this prospective study, COVID-19 symptoms were associated with increases in perceived stress and alcohol consumption. Future research on biopsychosocial determinants and underlying mechanisms of lifestyle changes, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment)
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Article
Forest Attendance in the Times of COVID-19—A Case Study on the Example of the Czech Republic
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(5), 2529; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19052529 - 22 Feb 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1075
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic affected people all over the world, including the Czech Republic (CZ). In the CZ, a number of measures were applied in 2020 to reduce the contact between people and their mobility. This article dealt with the importance of forests during [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected people all over the world, including the Czech Republic (CZ). In the CZ, a number of measures were applied in 2020 to reduce the contact between people and their mobility. This article dealt with the importance of forests during the pandemic. Data from 2019 and 2020 were compared. The qualitative data were obtained from two nationwide surveys, the first focused on forest attendance and forest fruit collection (about 1000 respondents per year), the second on the motivation to visit the forests (about 3700 respondents per year). The quantitative data were obtained on the regional level by analysing data from mobility counters. The impact of government restrictions was assessed. Findings: (1) there was a significant increase in the number of people who frequently visited the forest in 2020; (2) in 2020, the amount of households that collected forest fruits increased and was the highest for the monitored period; (3) the increased forest attendance significantly corresponded to the government restrictions. The analysis confirmed the great importance of forests for the citizens and, at the same time, the increased pressure on the forests’ use—forest attendance and forest crops picking—(especially suburban ones) in times of COVID-19 restrictions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment)
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Article
The Impact of COVID-19 Protocols on the Continuity of Care for Patients with Hypertension
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(3), 1735; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031735 - 02 Feb 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1113
Abstract
The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the continuity of care (COC) for patients with hypertension. Additionally, the factor of whether participants were treated via telemedicine was also considered. This study used [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the continuity of care (COC) for patients with hypertension. Additionally, the factor of whether participants were treated via telemedicine was also considered. This study used the National Health Insurance and Medical Aid claims data of the Republic of Korea between 2019 and 2020. Multivariable regression analysis was performed to identify the differences in the number of visits and the most frequent provider continuity (MFPC) of hypertensive patients before and after the appearance of COVID-19 in Korea. Additional analysis was performed with data that excluded cases of patients who received telemedicine services. A total of 5,791,812 hypertensive patients were included in this study. The MFPC decreased by 0.0031 points after the appearance of COVID-19, and it showed the same decrease even when telemedicine cases were excluded. The number of outpatient clinic visit days decreased by 0.2930 days after the appearance of COVID-19. Without the telemedicine cases, the number of outpatient clinic visit days decreased by 0.3330 days after the appearance of COVID-19. Accordingly, the COVID-19 protocols did not affect hypertension patients’ COC but impacted the frequency of their outpatient visits. In other words, with or without telemedicine, the utilization of healthcare was not disrupted, but there was a significant difference in the volume of healthcare use depending on the inclusion of telemedicine cases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment)
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
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3438
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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment)
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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
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1071
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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment)
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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
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2071
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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment)
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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
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1646
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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment)
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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
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1936
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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment)
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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
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2024
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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment)
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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
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2060
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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment)
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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 14 | Viewed by 2761
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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment)
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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 4 | Viewed by 1786
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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment)
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Review

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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 2005
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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Pandemic and the Environment)
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