Special Issue "Human Health, Risk Analysis and Environmental Hazards"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2017).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Jason K. Levy
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, University of Hawaii, Kapolei, HI 96707, USA
Interests: disaster risk governance; sustainable hazard mitigation; stochastic and statistical hydrology; sociohydrology; fluvial and marine disasters; global climate change, computational intelligence for water management; hydrologic resilience; process-based modeling of coupled human–water systems; inundation; economics of water resources management; drought
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are organizing a Special Issue on Hazards, Disasters and Emergencies in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH). The venue is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes articles and communications in the interdisciplinary area of environmental health sciences and public health. For detailed information on the journal, we refer you to https://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph.

Hazards, disasters and emergencies are key issues in environmental health. Risks, perils and hazardous environmental conditions may contribute to socio-economic disasters and catastrophes. The scale, scope and intensity of disasters are increasing under conditions of global climate change. While human activities can exacerbate these risks, innovations in disaster mitigation, preparedness and prevention can mitigate hazards, their antecedent conditions, causes and impacts. New technologies and opportunities now exist for the management of geohazards and disaster risks. For example, advances in disaster education can reduce disaster risk. This Special Issue encourages papers on the use of holistic, inter-disciplinary, transformative and affordable solutions suitable for hazard and disaster management. Research contributions dealing with public health and geo-hazards are particularly welcome.

Increasing global urbanization and the location of humans in hazardous locations, such as coastal communities lead to environmental risks and other challenges. Among these problems is the co-location of large numbers of humans with significant sources of environmental hazards that may have impacts on human health. Risk analysis and management is critical to resolve these problems.

This Special Issue is open to any subject area related to the impacts of hazards, disasters and emergencies. The listed keywords suggest just a few of the many possibilities.

Associate Professor Jason K. Levy
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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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 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Hazards
  • Risk
  • Disaster
  • Public Health
  • Environmental Threat

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Rapid Assessment of Stakeholder Concerns about Public Health. An Introduction to a Fast and Inexpensive Approach Applied on Health Concerns about Intensive Animal Production Systems
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(12), 1534; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14121534 - 11 Dec 2017
Cited by 1
Abstract
To effectively manage environmental health risks, stakeholders often need to act collectively. Stakeholders vary in their desire to act due to many factors, such as knowledge, risk perception, interests, and worldviews. Understanding their perceptions of the issues at stake is crucial to support [...] Read more.
To effectively manage environmental health risks, stakeholders often need to act collectively. Stakeholders vary in their desire to act due to many factors, such as knowledge, risk perception, interests, and worldviews. Understanding their perceptions of the issues at stake is crucial to support the risk governance process. Even though concern assessment is a pivotal element of risk governance, few tools for rapid assessment are reported in the literature. We tested a rapid and relatively cheap approach, taking the Dutch debate on Intensive Animal Production Systems (IAPS) and health as an example. Dutch policy-oriented publications on IAPS and health and ten semi-structured in-depth interviews with a variety of stakeholders were analyzed to identify stakeholders and concerns involved in the Dutch debate about IAPS and health. Concerns were mapped and a stakeholder network was derived. Three classes of concerns were recognized in the discussions about IAPS and health: concerns related to health risks, concerns regarding the activity causing the risks (IAPS), and concerns about the process to control the risks. The notions of ‘trust’ and ‘scientific uncertainty’ appeared as important themes in the discussions. Argumentation based on concerns directly related to health risks, the activity causing the risk (IAPS), and its risk management can easily become muddled up in a societal debate, limiting the development of effective action perspectives. Acknowledging these multiple stakeholder concerns can clarify the positions taken by stakeholders and allow for more and other action perspectives to develop. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Health, Risk Analysis and Environmental Hazards)
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Open AccessArticle
Increase of Elderly Population in the Rainstorm Hazard Areas of China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(9), 963; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14090963 - 26 Aug 2017
Cited by 4
Abstract
In light of global warming, increased extreme precipitation events have enlarged the population exposed to floods to some extent. Extreme precipitation risk assessments are of great significance in China and allow for the response to climate change and mitigation of risks to the [...] Read more.
In light of global warming, increased extreme precipitation events have enlarged the population exposed to floods to some extent. Extreme precipitation risk assessments are of great significance in China and allow for the response to climate change and mitigation of risks to the population. China is one of the countries most influenced by climate change and has unique national population conditions. The influence of extreme precipitation depends on the degree of exposure and vulnerability of the population. Accurate assessments of the population exposed to rising rainstorm trends are crucial to mapping extreme precipitation risks. Studying the population exposed to rainstorm hazard areas (RSHA) at the microscale is extremely urgent, due to the local characteristics of extreme precipitation events and regional diversity of the population. The spatial distribution of population density was mapped based on the national population census data from China in 1990, 2000 and 2010. RSHA were also identified using precipitation data from 1975–2015 in China, and the rainstorm tendency values were mapped using GIS in this paper. The spatial characteristics of the rainstorm tendencies were then analyzed. Finally, changes in the population in the RSHA are discussed. The results show that the extreme precipitation trends are increasing in southeastern China. From 1990 to 2010, the population in RSHA increased by 110 million, at a rate of 14.6%. The elderly in the region increased by 38 million at a rate of 86.4%. Studying the size of the population exposed to rainstorm hazards at the county scale can provide scientific evidence for developing disaster prevention and mitigation strategies from the bottom up. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Health, Risk Analysis and Environmental Hazards)
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Open AccessArticle
Assessing Risks from Cyclones for Human Lives and Livelihoods in the Coastal Region of Bangladesh
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 831; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14080831 - 25 Jul 2017
Cited by 5
Abstract
As a disaster prone country, Bangladesh is regularly hit by natural hazards, including devastating cyclones, such as in 1970, 1991 and 2007. Although the number of cyclones’ fatalities reduced from 0.3 million in 1970 to a few thousand or fewer in recent events, [...] Read more.
As a disaster prone country, Bangladesh is regularly hit by natural hazards, including devastating cyclones, such as in 1970, 1991 and 2007. Although the number of cyclones’ fatalities reduced from 0.3 million in 1970 to a few thousand or fewer in recent events, loss of lives and impact on livelihoods remains a concern. It depends on the meteorological characteristics of cyclone and the general vulnerability and capacity of the exposed population. In that perspective, a spatially explicit risk assessment is an essential step towards targeted disaster risk reduction. This study aims at analyzing the spatial variation of the different factors contributing to the risk for coastal communities at regional scale, including the distribution of the hazards, exposure, vulnerability and capacity. An exploratory factor analysis method is used to map vulnerability contrasts between local administrative units. Indexing and ranking using geospatial techniques are used to produce maps of exposure, hazard, vulnerability, capacities and risk. Results show that vulnerable populations and exposed areas are distributed along the land sea boundary, islands and major inland rivers. The hazard, assessed from the density of historical cyclone paths, is highest in the southwestern part of the coast. Whereas cyclones shelters are shown to properly serve the most vulnerable populations as priority evacuation centers, the overall pattern of capacity accounting for building quality and road network shows a more complex pattern. Resultant risk maps also provide a reasonable basis from which to take further structural measures to minimize loss of lives in the upcoming cyclones. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Health, Risk Analysis and Environmental Hazards)
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Open AccessArticle
Investigation, Pollution Mapping and Simulative Leakage Health Risk Assessment for Heavy Metals and Metalloids in Groundwater from a Typical Brownfield, Middle China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(7), 768; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14070768 - 13 Jul 2017
Cited by 11
Abstract
Heavy metal and metalloid (Cr, Pb, Cd, Zn, Cu, Ni, As and Hg) concentrations in groundwater from 19 typical sites throughout a typical brownfield were detected. Mean concentrations of toxic metals in groundwater decreased in the order of Cr > Zn > Cu [...] Read more.
Heavy metal and metalloid (Cr, Pb, Cd, Zn, Cu, Ni, As and Hg) concentrations in groundwater from 19 typical sites throughout a typical brownfield were detected. Mean concentrations of toxic metals in groundwater decreased in the order of Cr > Zn > Cu > Cd > Ni > Pb > Hg > As. Concentration of Cr6+ in groundwater was detected to further study chromium contamination. Cr6+ and Cd in groundwater were recommended as the priority pollutants because they were generally 1399-fold and 12-foldgreater than permissible limits, respectively. Owing to the fact that a waterproof curtain (WPC) in the brownfield is about to pass the warranty period, a steady two-dimensional water quality model and health risk assessment were applied to simulate and evaluate adverse effects of Cr6 + and Cd on the water quality of Xiangjiang River and the drinking-water intake of Wangcheng Waterworks. The results indicated that when groundwater in the brownfield leaked with valid curtain prevention, the water quality in Xiangjiang River and drinking-water intake downstream were temporarily unaffected. However, if there was no curtain prevention, groundwater leakage would have adverse impact on water quality of Xiangjiang River. Under the requirements of Class III surface water quality, the pollution belt for Cr6+ was 7500 m and 200 m for Cd. The non-carcinogenic risk of toxic metals in Xiangjiang River exceeded the threshold in a limited area, but did not threaten Wangcheng Waterworks. By contrast, the carcinogenic risk area for adults was at a transverse distance of 200 m and a longitudinal distance of 18,000 m, which was close to the Wangcheng Waterworks (23,000 m). Therefore, it was essential to reconstruct the WPC in the brownfield for preventing pollution diffusion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Health, Risk Analysis and Environmental Hazards)
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Open AccessArticle
Risk Analysis of a Fuel Storage Terminal Using HAZOP and FTA
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(7), 705; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14070705 - 30 Jun 2017
Cited by 7
Abstract
The size and complexity of industrial chemical plants, together with the nature of the products handled, means that an analysis and control of the risks involved is required. This paper presents a methodology for risk analysis in chemical and allied industries that is [...] Read more.
The size and complexity of industrial chemical plants, together with the nature of the products handled, means that an analysis and control of the risks involved is required. This paper presents a methodology for risk analysis in chemical and allied industries that is based on a combination of HAZard and OPerability analysis (HAZOP) and a quantitative analysis of the most relevant risks through the development of fault trees, fault tree analysis (FTA). Results from FTA allow prioritizing the preventive and corrective measures to minimize the probability of failure. An analysis of a case study is performed; it consists in the terminal for unloading chemical and petroleum products, and the fuel storage facilities of two companies, in the port of Valencia (Spain). HAZOP analysis shows that loading and unloading areas are the most sensitive areas of the plant and where the most significant danger is a fuel spill. FTA analysis indicates that the most likely event is a fuel spill in tank truck loading area. A sensitivity analysis from the FTA results show the importance of the human factor in all sequences of the possible accidents, so it should be mandatory to improve the training of the staff of the plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Health, Risk Analysis and Environmental Hazards)
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Open AccessArticle
Wage Differentials between Heat-Exposure Risk and No Heat-Exposure Risk Groups
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(7), 685; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14070685 - 24 Jun 2017
Abstract
The goal of this study is to investigate the wage differential between groups of workers who are exposed to heat and those who are not. Workers in the heat-exposure risk group are defined as workers who work in conditions that cause them to [...] Read more.
The goal of this study is to investigate the wage differential between groups of workers who are exposed to heat and those who are not. Workers in the heat-exposure risk group are defined as workers who work in conditions that cause them to spend more than 25% of their work hours at high temperatures. To analyze the wage differential, the Blinder-Oaxaca and Juhn-Murphy-Pierce methods were applied to Korea Working Condition Survey data. The results show that the no heat-exposure risk group received higher wages. In most cases, this can be interpreted as the endowment effect of human capital. As a price effect that lowers the endowment effect, the compensating differential for the heat-exposure risk group was found to be 1%. Moreover, education level, work experience, and employment status counteracted the compensating differentials for heat-exposure risks. A comparison of data sets from 2011 and 2014 shows that the increasing wage gap between the two groups was not caused by systematic social discrimination factors. This study suggests that wage differential factors can be modified for thermal environmental risks that will change working conditions as the impact of climate change increases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Health, Risk Analysis and Environmental Hazards)
Open AccessArticle
Environmental, Human Health and Socio-Economic Effects of Cement Powders: The Multicriteria Analysis as Decisional Methodology
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(6), 645; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14060645 - 16 Jun 2017
Cited by 12
Abstract
The attention to sustainability-related issues has grown fast in recent decades. The experience gained with these themes reveals the importance of considering this topic in the construction industry, which represents an important sector throughout the world. This work consists on conducting a multicriteria [...] Read more.
The attention to sustainability-related issues has grown fast in recent decades. The experience gained with these themes reveals the importance of considering this topic in the construction industry, which represents an important sector throughout the world. This work consists on conducting a multicriteria analysis of four cement powders, with the objective of calculating and analysing the environmental, human health and socio-economic effects of their production processes. The economic, technical, environmental and safety performances of the examined powders result from official, both internal and public, documents prepared by the producers. The Analytic Hierarchy Process permitted to consider several indicators (i.e., environmental, human health related and socio-economic parameters) and to conduct comprehensive and unbiased analyses which gave the best, most sustainable cement powder. As assumed in this study, the contribution of each considered parameter to the overall sustainability has a different incidence, therefore the procedure could be used to support on-going sustainability efforts under different conditions. The results also prove that it is not appropriate to regard only one parameter to identify the ‘best’ cement powder, but several impact categories should be considered and analysed if there is an interest for pursuing different, often conflicting interests. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Health, Risk Analysis and Environmental Hazards)
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Open AccessArticle
Urban Ecological Security Simulation and Prediction Using an Improved Cellular Automata (CA) Approach—A Case Study for the City of Wuhan in China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(6), 643; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14060643 - 15 Jun 2017
Cited by 11
Abstract
Ecological security is an important research topic, especially urban ecological security. As highly populated eco-systems, cities always have more fragile ecological environments. However, most of the research on urban ecological security in literature has focused on evaluating current or past status of the [...] Read more.
Ecological security is an important research topic, especially urban ecological security. As highly populated eco-systems, cities always have more fragile ecological environments. However, most of the research on urban ecological security in literature has focused on evaluating current or past status of the ecological environment. Very little literature has carried out simulation or prediction of future ecological security. In addition, there is even less literature exploring the urban ecological environment at a fine scale. To fill-in the literature gap, in this study we simulated and predicted urban ecological security at a fine scale (district level) using an improved Cellular Automata (CA) approach. First we used the pressure-state-response (PSR) method based on grid-scale data to evaluate urban ecological security. Then, based on the evaluation results, we imported the geographically weighted regression (GWR) concept into the CA model to simulate and predict urban ecological security. We applied the improved CA approach in a case study—simulating and predicting urban ecological security for the city of Wuhan in Central China. By comparing the simulated ecological security values from 2010 using the improved CA model to the actual ecological security values of 2010, we got a relatively high value of the kappa coefficient, which indicates that this CA model can simulate or predict well future development of ecological security in Wuhan. Based on the prediction results for 2020, we made some policy recommendations for each district in Wuhan. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Health, Risk Analysis and Environmental Hazards)
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Open AccessArticle
Risk Perceptions on Hurricanes: Evidence from the U.S. Stock Market
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(6), 600; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14060600 - 05 Jun 2017
Cited by 2
Abstract
This article examines the market reaction of the main Property and Casualty (P & C) insurance companies listed in the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to seven most recent hurricanes that hit the East Coast of the United States from 2005 to 2012. [...] Read more.
This article examines the market reaction of the main Property and Casualty (P & C) insurance companies listed in the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to seven most recent hurricanes that hit the East Coast of the United States from 2005 to 2012. For this purpose, we run a standard short horizon event study in order to test the existence of abnormal returns around the landfalls. P & C companies are one of the most affected sectors by such events because of the huge losses to rebuild, help and compensate the inhabitants of the affected areas. From the financial investors’ perception, this kind of events implies severe losses, which could influence the expected returns. Our research highlights the existence of significant cumulative abnormal returns around the landfall event window in most of the hurricanes analyzed, except for the Katrina and Sandy Hurricanes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Health, Risk Analysis and Environmental Hazards)
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Open AccessArticle
Ethnic Groups Differences in Domestic Recovery after the Catastrophe: A Case Study of the 2008 Magnitude 7.9 Earthquake in China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(6), 590; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14060590 - 02 Jun 2017
Cited by 8
Abstract
This research examined the ethnic differences in domestic recovery after the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake in China. In 2014, 866 valid questionnaires were collected. Han and Qiang & Zang households were analyzed using logistic regression to determine the factors influencing household recovery. It was [...] Read more.
This research examined the ethnic differences in domestic recovery after the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake in China. In 2014, 866 valid questionnaires were collected. Han and Qiang & Zang households were analyzed using logistic regression to determine the factors influencing household recovery. It was found that the householder of the Qiang & Zang group played a more important role in household recovery. Different from the Han, females from Qiang & Zang households had negative attitudes on recovery, and Qiang & Zang households did not believe in the effectiveness of public donations for post-quake recovery. The study also showed that local workers in a household were more helpful for household recovery than were migrant workers in a household, regardless of ethnicity. Therefore, the government should create more local jobs in Han and Qiang & Zang households and pay more attention to women in Qiang households. Assistance should be established specifically for the psychological recovery of Qiang women and family recovery projects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Health, Risk Analysis and Environmental Hazards)
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Open AccessArticle
Modeling Fire Occurrence at the City Scale: A Comparison between Geographically Weighted Regression and Global Linear Regression
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(4), 396; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14040396 - 08 Apr 2017
Cited by 6
Abstract
An increasing number of fires are occurring with the rapid development of cities, resulting in increased risk for human beings and the environment. This study compares geographically weighted regression-based models, including geographically weighted regression (GWR) and geographically and temporally weighted regression (GTWR), which [...] Read more.
An increasing number of fires are occurring with the rapid development of cities, resulting in increased risk for human beings and the environment. This study compares geographically weighted regression-based models, including geographically weighted regression (GWR) and geographically and temporally weighted regression (GTWR), which integrates spatial and temporal effects and global linear regression models (LM) for modeling fire risk at the city scale. The results show that the road density and the spatial distribution of enterprises have the strongest influences on fire risk, which implies that we should focus on areas where roads and enterprises are densely clustered. In addition, locations with a large number of enterprises have fewer fire ignition records, probably because of strict management and prevention measures. A changing number of significant variables across space indicate that heterogeneity mainly exists in the northern and eastern rural and suburban areas of Hefei city, where human-related facilities or road construction are only clustered in the city sub-centers. GTWR can capture small changes in the spatiotemporal heterogeneity of the variables while GWR and LM cannot. An approach that integrates space and time enables us to better understand the dynamic changes in fire risk. Thus governments can use the results to manage fire safety at the city scale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Health, Risk Analysis and Environmental Hazards)
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Open AccessArticle
Insight into the Earthquake Risk Information Seeking Behavior of the Victims: Evidence from Songyuan, China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(3), 267; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14030267 - 07 Mar 2017
Cited by 2
Abstract
Efficient risk communication is a vital way to reduce the vulnerability of individuals when facing emergency risks, especially regarding earthquakes. Efficient risk communication aims at improving the supply of risk information and fulfilling the need for risk information by individuals. Therefore, an investigation [...] Read more.
Efficient risk communication is a vital way to reduce the vulnerability of individuals when facing emergency risks, especially regarding earthquakes. Efficient risk communication aims at improving the supply of risk information and fulfilling the need for risk information by individuals. Therefore, an investigation into individual-level information seeking behavior within earthquake risk contexts is very important for improved earthquake risk communication. However, at present there are very few studies that have explored the behavior of individuals seeking earthquake risk information. Under the guidance of the Risk Information Seeking and Processing model as well as relevant practical findings using the structural equation model, this study attempts to explore the main determinants of an individual’s earthquake risk information seeking behavior, and to validate the mediator effect of information need during the seeking process. A questionnaire-based survey of 918 valid respondents in Songyuan, China, who had been hit by a small earthquake swarm, was used to provide practical evidence for this study. Results indicated that information need played a noteworthy role in the earthquake risk information seeking process, and was detected both as an immediate predictor and as a mediator. Informational subjective norms drive the seeking behavior on earthquake risk information through both direct and indirect approaches. Perceived information gathering capacity, negative affective responses and risk perception have an indirect effect on earthquake risk information seeking behavior via information need. The implications for theory and practice regarding risk communication are discussed and concluded. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Health, Risk Analysis and Environmental Hazards)
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