Special Issue "Environmental and Occupational Exposure to Microbial Contaminants"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Atin Adhikari
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology & Environmental Health Sciences, Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA 30458, USA
Interests: air quality; bioaerosols; environmental health; environmental epidemiology; microbial disinfection methods

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

Exposure to environmental microorganisms and microbial contaminants, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and their toxic by-products, such as endotoxin, mycotoxins, and other metabolites may cause various infections, respiratory diseases, inflammations, allergic responses, and cancers. Human exposure to these microbial contaminants occurs through various exposure routes, such as inhalation, ingestion, or dermal uptake. Our understanding of the links between human and animal health and environmental microbes is still at the early stage. Recent metagenomic studies have shown that the environmental microbial diversity is far more complex than we previously thought. We need more information from multiple disciplines to advance our understanding of how microbial communities are influenced by our microenvironment, such as our buildings and workplaces as well as by the changing global climate. At the same time we need more research efforts to better understand how the environment and biodiversity determine and influence human health through environmental microbiota. To address all these research gaps, we need more sophisticated tools that can quantify microbial exposures more accurately, identify environmental microorganisms leading to information on microbial community composition, and yield quantitative data on microbial abundance in the community.

This Special Issue seeks research papers on various aspects of microbial exposure through air, water, and soil in buildings and various work environments and the links between microbial exposure levels, microbial diversity, human health, and the health of workers. We especially encourage the submission of interdisciplinary work and multi-country collaborative research. We also encourage the submission of manuscripts related to new tools, such as sensors and newly-designed air samplers for assessing human exposure to environmental microbial contaminants.

Dr. Atin Adhikari
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All 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 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 2300 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

  • microbial exposure
  • organic dust
  • bioaerosols
  • aeroallergens
  • endotoxin
  • waterborne microorganisms
  • indoor air quality
  • sick building
  • environmental monitoring
  • biosensors

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Short-Term Effects of Ambient Ozone, PM2.5, and Meteorological Factors on COVID-19 Confirmed Cases and Deaths in Queens, New York
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(11), 4047; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17114047 - 05 Jun 2020
Cited by 36 | Viewed by 2535
Abstract
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, has been rapidly increasing in the United States. Boroughs of New York City, including Queens county, turn out to be the epicenters of this infection. According to the data provided by [...] Read more.
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, has been rapidly increasing in the United States. Boroughs of New York City, including Queens county, turn out to be the epicenters of this infection. According to the data provided by the New York State Department of Health, most of the cases of new COVID-19 infections in New York City have been found in the Queens county where 42,023 people have tested positive, and 3221 people have died as of 20 April 2020. Person-to-person transmission and travels were implicated in the initial spread of the outbreaks, but factors related to the late phase of rapidly spreading outbreaks in March and April are still uncertain. A few previous studies have explored the links between air pollution and COVID-19 infections, but more data is needed to understand the effects of short-term exposures of air pollutants and meteorological factors on the spread of COVID-19 infections, particularly in the U.S. disease epicenters. In this study, we have focused on ozone and PM2.5, two major air pollutants in New York City, which were previously found to be associated with respiratory viral infections. The aim of our regression modeling was to explore the associations among ozone, PM2.5, daily meteorological variables (wind speed, temperature, relative humidity, absolute humidity, cloud percentages, and precipitation levels), and COVID-19 confirmed new cases and new deaths in Queens county, New York during March and April 2020. The results from these analyses showed that daily average temperature, daily maximum eight-hour ozone concentration, average relative humidity, and cloud percentages were significantly and positively associated with new confirmed cases related to COVID-19; none of these variables showed significant associations with new deaths related to COVID-19. The findings indicate that short-term exposures to ozone and other meteorological factors can influence COVID-19 transmission and initiation of the disease, but disease aggravation and mortality depend on other factors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Occupational Exposure to Microbial Contaminants)
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Open AccessArticle
Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment of Drinking Water Quality to Predict the Risk of Waterborne Diseases in Primary-School Children
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(8), 2774; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17082774 - 17 Apr 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1348
Abstract
Primary-school children in low- and middle-income countries are often deprived of microbiologically safe water and sanitation, often resulting in a high prevalence of gastrointestinal diseases and poor school performance. We used Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) to predict the probability of infection in [...] Read more.
Primary-school children in low- and middle-income countries are often deprived of microbiologically safe water and sanitation, often resulting in a high prevalence of gastrointestinal diseases and poor school performance. We used Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) to predict the probability of infection in schoolchildren due to consumption of unsafe school water. A multistage random-sampling technique was used to randomly select 425 primary schools from ten districts of Sindh, Pakistan, to produce a representative sample of the province. We characterized water supplies in selected schools. Microbiological testing of water resulted in inputs for the QMRA model, to estimate the risks of infections to schoolchildren. Groundwater (62%) and surface water (38%) were identified as two major sources of drinking water in the selected schools, presenting varying degrees of health risks. Around half of the drinking-water samples were contaminated with Escherichia coli (49%), Shigella spp. (63%), Salmonella spp. (53%), and Vibrio cholerae (49%). Southern Sindh was found to have the highest risk of infection and illness from Campylobacter and Rotavirus. Central and Northern Sindh had a comparatively lower risk of waterborne diseases. Schoolchildren of Karachi were estimated to have the highest probability of illness per year, due to Campylobacter (70%) and Rotavirus (22.6%). Pearson correlation was run to assess the relationship between selected pathogens. V. cholerae was correlated with Salmonella spp., Campylobacter, Rotavirus, and Salmonella spp. Overall, the risk of illness due to the bacterial infection (E. coli, Salmonella spp., V. cholerae, Shigella, and Campylobacter) was high. There is a dire need for management plans in the schools of Sindh, to halt the progression of waterborne diseases in school-going children. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Occupational Exposure to Microbial Contaminants)
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Open AccessArticle
Monitoring of Air Microbial Contaminations in Different Bioenergy Facilities Using Cultural and Biomolecular Methods
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(14), 2546; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16142546 - 17 Jul 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 917
Abstract
Bioaerosol exposure linked to the bioenergy production from waste and its effects on human health in occupational and residential environments has rising interest nowadays. The health risk associated with the exposure includes mainly infective diseases, allergies, chronic bronchitis, and obstructive pulmonary disease. A [...] Read more.
Bioaerosol exposure linked to the bioenergy production from waste and its effects on human health in occupational and residential environments has rising interest nowadays. The health risk associated with the exposure includes mainly infective diseases, allergies, chronic bronchitis, and obstructive pulmonary disease. A risk assessment’s critical point is the bioaerosol quality and quantity characterization. The aim of this study is to evaluate the application of different methods for the analysis of bioaerosol sampled in bioenergy plants. This study involved six Italian plants for the treatment of biomasses and energy production. Bioaerosol cultural evaluation was performed, by Surface Air System (SAS) sampler, and DNA was extracted from PM0.49 samples and Low Melting Agar plates. qRT-PCR followed by Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis (DGGE) and band sequencings were performed. The cultural method is able to detect less than 15% of what is evaluable with bio-molecular methods. A low sample alfa-diversity and a high beta-biodiversity in relation to feedstock and process were observed. Sequencing showed microorganisms with a hygienic-sanitary relevance such as Arcobacter, Pseudomonas, Enterobacter, Klebsiella, Enterococcus and Bacillus. Integrated cultural and biomolecular methods can be more exhaustive to evaluate bioaerosol’s exposure in the occupational environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Occupational Exposure to Microbial Contaminants)
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Open AccessArticle
Major Differences in the Diversity of Mycobiomes Associated with Wheat Processing and Domestic Environments: Significant Findings from High-Throughput Sequencing of Fungal Barcode ITS1
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(13), 2335; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16132335 - 02 Jul 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1111
Abstract
Occupational exposure to grain dust is associated with both acute and chronic effects on the airways. However, the aetiology of these effects is not completely understood, mainly due to the complexity and variety of potentially causative agents to which workers are exposed during [...] Read more.
Occupational exposure to grain dust is associated with both acute and chronic effects on the airways. However, the aetiology of these effects is not completely understood, mainly due to the complexity and variety of potentially causative agents to which workers are exposed during cereals process. In this study, we characterized the mycobiome during different steps of wheat processing—harvesting, grain unloading and straw handling—and compared it to mycobiomes of domestic environments—rural and urban. To do so, settled dust was collected at a six month interval for six weeks in the close proximity of 142 participants, 74 occupationally exposed to wheat dust—freshly harvested or stored—and 68 not occupationally exposed to it. Fungal community composition was determined in those samples by high-throughput sequencing of the primary fungal barcode marker internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS1). The comparison of different mycobiomes revealed that fungal richness, as well as their composition, was much higher in the domestic environment than at the workplace. Furthermore, we found that the fungal community composition strongly differed between workplaces where workers handled freshly harvested wheat and those where they handled stored wheat. Indicator species for each exposed population were identified. Our results emphasize the complexity of exposure of grain workers and farmers and open new perspectives in the identification of the etiological factors responsible for the respiratory pathologies induced by wheat dust exposure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Occupational Exposure to Microbial Contaminants)
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Open AccessArticle
Survival of Microorganisms on Nonwovens Used for the Construction of Filtering Facepiece Respirators
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(7), 1154; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16071154 - 31 Mar 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1762
Abstract
Filtering nonwovens that constitute the base material for filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) used for the protection of the respiratory system against bioaerosols may, in favourable conditions, promote the development of harmful microorganisms. There are no studies looking at the impact that different types [...] Read more.
Filtering nonwovens that constitute the base material for filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) used for the protection of the respiratory system against bioaerosols may, in favourable conditions, promote the development of harmful microorganisms. There are no studies looking at the impact that different types of filtering nonwovens have on microorganism survival, which is an important issue for FFR producers and users. Five commercial filtering nonwovens manufactured using diverse textile technologies (i.e., needle-punching, melt-blown, spun-bonding) with different structural parameters and raw material compositions were used within our research. The survival of microorganisms on filtering nonwovens was determined for E. coli, S. aureus, B. subtilis bacteria; C. albicans yeast and A. niger mould. Samples of nonwovens were collected immediately after inoculum application (at 0 h) and after 4, 8, 24, 48, 72, and 96 h of incubation. The tests were carried out in accordance with the AATCC 100-1998 method. Survival depended strongly on microorganism species. E. coli and S. aureus bacteria grew the most on all nonwovens tested. The structural parameters of the nonwovens tested (mass per unit area and thickness) and contact angle did not significantly affect microorganism survival. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Occupational Exposure to Microbial Contaminants)
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Open AccessArticle
Bibliometric Analysis of Algal-Bacterial Symbiosis in Wastewater Treatment
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(6), 1077; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16061077 - 26 Mar 2019
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 1858
Abstract
In recent years, the algae-bacteria symbiotic system has played a significant role in the sustainable development of wastewater treatment. With the continuous expansion of research outputs, publications related to wastewater treatment via algal-bacterial consortia appear to be on the rise. Based on SCI-EXPANDED [...] Read more.
In recent years, the algae-bacteria symbiotic system has played a significant role in the sustainable development of wastewater treatment. With the continuous expansion of research outputs, publications related to wastewater treatment via algal-bacterial consortia appear to be on the rise. Based on SCI-EXPANDED database, this study investigated the research activities and tendencies of algae-bacteria symbiotic wastewater treatment technology by bibliometric method from 1998 to 2017. The results indicated that environmental sciences and ecology was the most productive subject categories, followed by engineering. Bioresource Technology was the most prominent journal in this field with considerable academic influence. China (146), USA (139) and Spain (76) had the largest amount of publications. Among them, USA was in a leading position in international cooperation, with the highest h-index (67) in 79 countries/territories. The cooperation between China and USA was the closest. The cooperative publishing rate of the Chinese Academy of Sciences was 83.33%, but most of them were in cooperation with domestic institutions, while international cooperation was relatively limited. Methane production, biofuel production, and extracellular polymeric substance were future focal frontiers of research, and this field had gradually become a multi-perspective and inter-disciplinary approach combining biological, environmental and energy technologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Occupational Exposure to Microbial Contaminants)
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Open AccessTechnical Note
Antimicrobial Air Filters Using Natural Sea Salt Particles for Deactivating Airborne Bacterial Particles
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(1), 190; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17010190 - 27 Dec 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1662
Abstract
We developed an antimicrobial air filter using natural sea salt (NSS) particles. Airborne NSS particles were produced via an aerosol process and were continuously coated onto the surface of an air filter under various deposition times. The filtration efficiency and bactericidal performance of [...] Read more.
We developed an antimicrobial air filter using natural sea salt (NSS) particles. Airborne NSS particles were produced via an aerosol process and were continuously coated onto the surface of an air filter under various deposition times. The filtration efficiency and bactericidal performance of the NSS-coated filter against aerosolized bacterial particles (Staphylococcus epidermidis, Escherichia coli) were evaluated quantitatively. The filtration efficiency of the tested filter ranged from 95% to 99% depending on the deposition time, and the bactericidal performance demonstrated efficiencies of more than 98% against both tested bacterial bioaerosols when the NSS deposition ratio was more than 500 μg/cm2. The experimental results indicated that the NSS-coated filters have the potential to be used as effective antimicrobial air filters for decreasing environmental exposure to microbial contaminants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Occupational Exposure to Microbial Contaminants)
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Open AccessTechnical Note
Concentrations of Atmospheric Culturable Bioaerosols at Mountain and Seashore Sites
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4323; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224323 - 06 Nov 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 751
Abstract
Concentrations of atmospheric culturable bioaerosols at mountain and seashore sites were measured in field investigations by using a bio-culture sampler. The eastern Korean peninsula was selected for the measurements because of the short distance between the mountain site and the seashore site. Detectable [...] Read more.
Concentrations of atmospheric culturable bioaerosols at mountain and seashore sites were measured in field investigations by using a bio-culture sampler. The eastern Korean peninsula was selected for the measurements because of the short distance between the mountain site and the seashore site. Detectable concentrations of culturable fungal and bacterial bioaerosols (maximum 1065 CFU/m3) were quantitatively measured at the mountain and seashore sites. In addition, measurement of bioaerosols was conducted at an urban area as reference data. Significantly higher concentrations of bioaerosols were found at the mountain site. However, several fold smaller levels of bioaerosols were detected at the seashore site (t-test p-value < 0.05). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Occupational Exposure to Microbial Contaminants)
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