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Human Exposure to Environmental Contaminants and Its Health Implications

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2022) | Viewed by 34448

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
“Lino Rossi” Research Center for the Study and Prevention of Unexpected Perinatal Death and SIDS, Department of Biomedical, Surgical and Dental Sciences, University of Milan, 20122 Milan, Italy
Interests: neuropathology; autonomic nervous system; brain development; neurotransmitters; molecular neurology; SIDS
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Assistant Guest Editor
Toxicological Center, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Wilrijk, Belgium
Interests: environmental chemistry; human biomonitoring; exposure assessment; food safety; emerging contaminants; endocrine disrupting chemicals; brominated flame retardants; plasticizers; phthalates; bisphenols; human health effects; wildlife exposure
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Many factors can influence human health, including exposure to environmental, physical, chemical, and biological contaminants, mostly due to expanded industrialization. Humans may be exposed to these pollutants in many pathways, including ingestion, inhalation, and dermal contact. This issue has raised concerns over specific potential adverse health effects from such exposure, such as endocrine disruption, neurodevelopmental and reproductive toxicity and even cancer. Nevertheless, when it comes to fate, biotransformation and toxicokinetics, in particular, metabolism has received little attention.  

Identifying management and mitigation strategies and minimizing these xenobiotic particles’ risk to public health and the environment is exceptionally urgent. Therefore, this Special Issue is an essential tool for collecting original articles providing updated knowledge on the potential health risks of human exposure to environmental toxic substances.

Authors are encouraged to submit original research articles describing novel findings related to one of the following goals:

  • Human health implications of environmental contaminant exposition (including tumours, endocrine, neurological and reproductive pathologies);
  • Assessments of current levels and patterns of exposure to contaminants in occupational and environmental settings, including indoor environments;
  • Human biomonitoring for toxic substances.  

Submissions of theories, general commentaries, and articles indirectly related to the above-listed topics will be considered as well.

Prof. Dr. Anna Maria Lavezzi
Dr. Malarvannan Govindan
Guest 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 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 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

  • human health;
  • environmental pollutants;
  • human contaminant exposure;
  • particulate matter absorption;
  • human pathologies related to environmental pollution

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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12 pages, 1081 KiB  
Article
Risk Assessment and Potential Analysis of the Agricultural Use of Sewage Sludge in Central Shanxi Province
by Baoling Duan and Qiang Feng
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(7), 4236; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19074236 - 01 Apr 2022
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 1716
Abstract
The agricultural use of sewage sludge has become an economic disposal method used worldwide. However, heavy metals contained in sewage sludge have become the crucial limiting factors for this way of disposal. This study showed that regulatory limit values are not enough to [...] Read more.
The agricultural use of sewage sludge has become an economic disposal method used worldwide. However, heavy metals contained in sewage sludge have become the crucial limiting factors for this way of disposal. This study showed that regulatory limit values are not enough to determine whether sewage sludge is suitable for agricultural use; risk assessment and potential analysis should be applied. Correlation analysis and hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) should also be performed to identify heavy metals’ sources and show their influence on sewage sludge utilization. Samples were collected from 13 wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) located in central Shanxi Province. Results indicated that the mean contents of heavy metals in sewage sludge were all less than the limit threshold of China. According to the monomial potential ecological risk coefficient (), the agricultural use of sewage sludge had low ecological risks for all heavy metals, except for Hg and Cd. Based on the potential ecological risk index (RI), only three stations had moderate risk, other nine stations all had higher potential risk. The mean potentials by all heavy metals were all beyond 10 years, which is the limit of the maximum application time specified by China. Combining all heavy metals, only one station’s potential was less than 10 years. Although the contents of heavy metals were all within the threshold values, large quantities of sewage sludge are not suitable for agricultural use. Coal-related industries, which were the main sources of Hg and Cd, greatly affected the agricultural use of sewage sludge. Full article
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12 pages, 1029 KiB  
Article
Harmful Effect of Intrauterine Smoke Exposure on Neuronal Control of “Fetal Breathing System” in Stillbirths
by Anna M. Lavezzi, Teresa Pusiol and Beatrice Paradiso
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(7), 4164; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19074164 - 31 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1601
Abstract
This article is aimed to contribute to the current knowledge on the role of toxic substances such as nicotine on sudden intrauterine unexplained deaths’ (SIUDS’) pathogenetic mechanisms. The in-depth histopathological examination of the autonomic nervous system in wide groups of victims of SIUDS [...] Read more.
This article is aimed to contribute to the current knowledge on the role of toxic substances such as nicotine on sudden intrauterine unexplained deaths’ (SIUDS’) pathogenetic mechanisms. The in-depth histopathological examination of the autonomic nervous system in wide groups of victims of SIUDS (47 cases) and controls (20 cases), with both smoking and no-smoking mothers, highlighted the frequent presence of the hypodevelopment of brainstem structures checking the vital functions. In particular, the hypoplasia of the pontine parafacial nucleus together with hypoplastic lungs for gestational age were observed in SIUDS cases with mothers who smoked cigarettes, including electronic ones. The results allow us to assume that the products of cigarette smoke during pregnancy can easily cross the placental barrier, thus entering the fetal circulation and damaging the most sensitive organs, such as lungs and brain. In a non-negligible percentage of SIUDS, the mothers did not smoke. Furthermore, based on previous and ongoing studies conducted through analytical procedures and the use of scanning electron microscopy, the authors envisage the involvement of toxic nanoparticles (such as agricultural pesticides and nanomaterials increasingly used in biomedicine, bioscience and biotechnology) in the death pathogenesis, with similar mechanisms to those of nicotine. Full article
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16 pages, 1119 KiB  
Article
Removal of Toxic and Essential Nutrient Elements from Commercial Rice Brands Using Different Washing and Cooking Practices: Human Health Risk Assessment
by Syfullah Shahriar, Alok Kumar Paul and Mohammad Mahmudur Rahman
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(5), 2582; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19052582 - 23 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1976
Abstract
This study determined the influence of different cooking procedures on the removal of toxic elements (TEs) including arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), and lead (Pb) along with other nutrient elements from different commercially available rice brands sold in Bangladeshi markets. We observed 33%, 35%, [...] Read more.
This study determined the influence of different cooking procedures on the removal of toxic elements (TEs) including arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), and lead (Pb) along with other nutrient elements from different commercially available rice brands sold in Bangladeshi markets. We observed 33%, 35%, and 27% average removal of As, Cd, and Pb accordingly from rice when cooked with a rice to water ratio of 1:6 after washing 5 times. We also found a significant reduction in essential elements: Zn (17%), Cu (10%), Mn (22%), Se (49%), and Mo (22%), when rice cooking was performed as in traditional practice. Daily dietary intakes were found to be between 0.36 and 1.67 µg/kgbw for As, 0.06 and 1.15 µg/kgbw for Cd, and 0.04 and 0.17 µg/kgbw for Pb when rice was cooked by the rice cooker method (rice:water 1:2), while in the traditional method (rice:water 1:6) daily intake rates ranged from 0.23 to 1.3 µg/kgbw for As, 0.04 to 0.88 µg/kgbw for Cd, and 0.03 to 0.15 µg/kgbw for Pb for adults. The HQ and ILCR for As, Cd, and Pb revealed that there is a possibility of noncarcinogenic and carcinogenic risk for As but no appreciable risk for Cd and Pb from consumption of rice. Full article
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13 pages, 2223 KiB  
Article
Can Exhaled Carbon Monoxide Be Used as a Marker of Exposure? A Cross-Sectional Study in Young Adults
by Ke-Ting Pan, Giovanni S. Leonardi, Marcella Ucci and Ben Croxford
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(22), 11893; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182211893 - 12 Nov 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2075
Abstract
Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a major public health issue worldwide. People are exposed to CO in their daily lives, with one of the common sources of CO being cigarette smoking. Inhalation of CO leads to elevated carboxyhaemoglobin (COHb) levels in the blood [...] Read more.
Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a major public health issue worldwide. People are exposed to CO in their daily lives, with one of the common sources of CO being cigarette smoking. Inhalation of CO leads to elevated carboxyhaemoglobin (COHb) levels in the blood and also in exhaled CO concentration. Several factors have been shown to affect COHb concentration and COHb half-life. However, factors affecting exhaled CO concentration and exhaled CO half-life are not well understood. The present study aimed to investigate the potential factors related to baseline exhaled CO concentration and exhaled CO half-life among smokers. A cross-sectional study was conducted between 26 January and 30 June 2019, and young adults were recruited into the study. A total of 74 participants (mean age: 27.1 years, 71.6% males and 28.4% females) attended the study. They were invited to complete a questionnaire, including demographic, physiological, and behavioural factors. Then, exhaled CO measurements were taken. These measurements were taken before and after smoking a single cigarette for smokers and only once for non-smokers. The average baseline exhaled CO concentration was 6.9 ± 4.9 ppm for smokers and 1.9 ± 0.5 ppm for non-smokers. The mean of exhaled CO half-life was around 273.3 min (4.6 h) for smokers. No difference was seen in exhaled CO half-life between light smokers and heavy smokers in the smoking group. Gender and cigarettes smoked weekly affected baseline exhaled CO in smokers. Even though height seemed to positively associate with exhaled CO half-life, the relationship disappeared when adjusting by gender and weight. Therefore, exhaled CO could be used as a marker of CO exposure, but we cannot ignore the factors mentioned in the study. For future study, considering factors related to smoking habits and smoking style are recommended as these may affect total inhaled CO. Full article
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15 pages, 2237 KiB  
Article
Brominated Flame Retardants in Children’s Room: Concentration, Composition, and Health Risk Assessment
by Douha Bannan, Nadeem Ali, Nabil A. Alhakamy, Mohamed A. Alfaleh, Waleed S. Alharbi, Muhammad Imtiaz Rashid, Nisreen Rajeh and Govindan Malarvannan
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(12), 6421; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18126421 - 14 Jun 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2675
Abstract
Children spend most of their daily time indoors. Many of the items used indoors, such as furniture, electronics, textile, and children toys, are treated with chemicals to provide longevity and fulfil the safety standards. However, many chemicals added to these products are released [...] Read more.
Children spend most of their daily time indoors. Many of the items used indoors, such as furniture, electronics, textile, and children toys, are treated with chemicals to provide longevity and fulfil the safety standards. However, many chemicals added to these products are released into the environment during leaching out from the treated products. Many studies have reported brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in indoor environments; however, few have focused on environments specified for young children. In this study, paired air (PM10) and dust samples were collected from the rooms (n = 30) of Saudi children. These samples were analyzed for different congeners of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and three important alternative flame retardants using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Decabromodiphenyl ether (BDE 209) was the most important analyzed BFR in dust and PM10 samples with a median value of 3150 ng/g of dust and 75 pg/m3. This indicates the wider application of BDE 209 has implications for its occurrence, although its use has been regulated for specified uses since 2014. Among alternative BFRs, 2-Ethylhexyl-2,3,4,5-tetrabromobenzoate (TBB), Bis(2-ethylhexyl)-3,4,5,6-tetrabromophthalate (TBPH), and 1,2-Bis(2,4,6-tribromophenoxy)ethane (BTBPE) were found with a median levels of 10, 15 and 8 ng/g of dust, respectively. However, alternative BFRs were present in <50% of the PM10 samples. The calculated long term and daily exposures via indoor dust and PM10 of Saudi children from their rooms were well below the respective reference dose (RfD) values. Nonetheless, the study highlights BDE 209 at higher levels than previously reported from household dust in Saudi Arabia. The study warrants further extensive research to estimate the different classes of chemical exposure to children from their rooms. Full article
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16 pages, 1273 KiB  
Article
Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds in Car Dust: A Pilot Study in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
by Nadeem Ali, Mohammad W. Kadi, Hussain Mohammed Salem Ali Albar, Muhammad Imtiaz Rashid, Sivaraman Chandrasekaran, Ahmed Saleh Summan, Cynthia A. de Wit and Govindan Malarvannan
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(9), 4803; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18094803 - 30 Apr 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2234
Abstract
People may spend a significant amount of their daily time in cars and thus be exposed to chemicals present in car dust. Various chemicals are emitted from during car use, contaminating the car dust. In this study, we compiled published and unpublished data [...] Read more.
People may spend a significant amount of their daily time in cars and thus be exposed to chemicals present in car dust. Various chemicals are emitted from during car use, contaminating the car dust. In this study, we compiled published and unpublished data on the occurrence of phthalates, flame retardants (FRs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in Saudi car dust. Phthalates, a class of chemical commonly used as plasticizers in different car parts, were the major pollutants found in car dust, with a median value of ∑phthalates 1,279,000 ng/g. Among other chemicals, organophosphate flame retardants (OPFRs) were found to be between 1500–90,500 ng/g, which indicates their use as alternative FRs in the car industry. The daily exposure to Saudi drivers (regular and taxi drivers) was below the respective reference dose (RfD) values of the individual chemicals. However, the estimated incremental lifetime cancer risk (ILCR) values due to chronic exposure to these chemicals was >1 × 10−5 for taxi drivers for phthalates and PAHs, indicating that the long-term exposure to these chemicals is a cause of concern for drivers who spend considerable time in cars. The study has some limitations, due to the small number of samples, lack of updated RfD values, and missing cancer slope factors for many studied chemicals. Despite these limitations, this study indicates the possible range of exposure to drivers from chemicals in car dust and warrants further extensive studies to confirm these patterns. Full article
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11 pages, 1119 KiB  
Article
Testing the Role of Waste Management and Environmental Quality on Health Indicators Using Structural Equation Modeling in Pakistan
by Tanzila Akmal and Faisal Jamil
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(8), 4193; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18084193 - 15 Apr 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 17766
Abstract
Improper management of municipal waste has become a growing concern globally due to its impact on the environment, health, and overall living conditions of households in cities. Waste production has increased because households do not adopt waste management practices that ensure sustainability. Previous [...] Read more.
Improper management of municipal waste has become a growing concern globally due to its impact on the environment, health, and overall living conditions of households in cities. Waste production has increased because households do not adopt waste management practices that ensure sustainability. Previous studies on household waste management often considered socio-economic aspects and overlooked the environmental and behavioral factors influencing the disposal practices and health status. This study adopted four constructs, defensive attitude, environmental knowledge, environmental quality, and waste disposal, by employing a structural equation modeling approach to explore research objectives. Data from 849 households of the Islamabad-Rawalpindi metropolitan was collected by using a multi-stage sampling technique. The structural model results showed that the two constructs, environmental knowledge and defensive behavior, positively affect household health status. The most significant health-related considerations are waste disposal and environmental quality, both of which negatively impact health status and do not support our hypothesis. The results provide valuable perspectives to enable households to engage actively in waste management activities. The findings indicate that understanding the intentions of household health status drivers can assist policymakers and agencies in promoting an efficient and successful community programmes related to sustainable solid waste management by allowing them to foster how the desired behavior can be achieved. Full article
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Review

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20 pages, 3639 KiB  
Review
Concentrations, Distribution, and Pollution Assessment of Metals in River Sediments in China
by Guoqi Lian and Xinqing Lee
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(13), 6908; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18136908 - 27 Jun 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 2710
Abstract
This study conducted a review on the concentrations, spatial distribution and pollution assessment of metals including As, Hg, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn in 102 river sediments in China between January 2008 and July 2020 based on the online [...] Read more.
This study conducted a review on the concentrations, spatial distribution and pollution assessment of metals including As, Hg, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn in 102 river sediments in China between January 2008 and July 2020 based on the online literature. The geo-accumulation index (Igeo) and potential ecological risk index (RI) were used for the pollution assessment of the metals. The results showed that the ranges of metals were: 0.44 to 250.73 mg/kg for As, 0.02 to 8.67 mg/kg for Hg, 0.06 to 40 mg/kg for Cd, 0.81 to 251.58 mg/kg for Co, 4.69 to 460 mg/kg for Cr, 2.13 to 520.42 mg/kg for Cu, 39.76 to 1884 mg/kg for Mn, 1.91 to 203.11 mg/kg for Ni, 1.44 to 1434.25 mg/kg for Pb and 12.76 to 1737.35 mg/kg for Zn, respectively. The median values of these metals were descending in the order: Mn > Zn > Cr > Cu > Pb > Ni > Co > As > Cd > Hg. Compared with the SQGs, As and Cr manifested higher exceeding sites among the metals. Metals of river sediments manifested a significant spatial variation among different regions, which might be attributed to the natural weathering and anthropogenic activity. The mean Igeo values of the metals presented the decreasing trends in the order: Cd > Hg > Zn > Cu > As > Pb > Ni > Co > Cr > Mn. Cd and Hg manifested higher proportions of contaminated sites and contributed most to the RI, which should be listed as priority control of pollutants. Southwest River Basin, Liaohe River Basin, and Huaihe River Basin manifested higher ecological risks than other basins. The study could provide a comprehensive understanding of metals pollution in river sediments in China, and a reference of the control of pollutant discharge in the river basins for the management. Full article
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