Editor's Choice Articles

Editor’s Choice articles are based on recommendations by the scientific editors of MDPI journals from around the world. Editors select a small number of articles recently published in the journal that they believe will be particularly interesting to authors, or important in this field. The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the various research areas of the journal.

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Article
Adsorption and Desorption Behaviour of Polychlorinated Biphenyls onto Microplastics’ Surfaces in Water/Sediment Systems
Toxics 2020, 8(3), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics8030059 - 17 Aug 2020
Cited by 12
Abstract
The potential of microplastics (MPLs) in marine ecosystems to adsorb and transport other micropollutants to biota, contributing to their entry in the food chain, is a primary cause of concern. However, these interactions remain poorly understood. Here, we have evaluated the adsorption/desorption behaviour [...] Read more.
The potential of microplastics (MPLs) in marine ecosystems to adsorb and transport other micropollutants to biota, contributing to their entry in the food chain, is a primary cause of concern. However, these interactions remain poorly understood. Here, we have evaluated the adsorption/desorption behaviour of marker polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), onto MPL surfaces of three widely used polymers—polystyrene (PS), polyethylene (PE), and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The range of MPL sizes ranged from 1 to 600 μm. The adsorption/desorption was evaluated in sediment/water systems in marine microcosms emulating realistic environmental conditions for 21 days. The adsorption percentages ranged from 20 to 60%. PCBs with a lower degree of chlorination showed higher adsorption percentages because of conformational impediments of PCBs with high-degree chlorination, and also by their affinity to be adsorbed in sediments. Glassy plastic polymers as PET and PS showed a superior affinity for PCBs than rubbery polymers, such as PE. The polymers that can bond PCBs by π-π interactions, rather than van der Waals forces showed better adsorption percentages, as expected. Finally, the adsorption/desorption behaviour of selected PCBs onto MPLs was fitted to a Freundlich isotherm model, with correlations higher than 0.8 in most of the cases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Underexplored Chemical Interactions in Humans and Wildlife)
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Article
Pulmonary Toxicity and Inflammatory Response of Vape Cartridges Containing Medium-Chain Triglycerides Oil and Vitamin E Acetate: Implications in the Pathogenesis of EVALI
Toxics 2020, 8(3), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics8030046 - 28 Jun 2020
Cited by 16
Abstract
Recently, there has been an outbreak of a condition named e-cigarette or vaping products-associated lung injury (EVALI). The primary components of vaping products include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), vitamin E acetate (VEA) and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), may be responsible for acute lung toxicity. Currently, little [...] Read more.
Recently, there has been an outbreak of a condition named e-cigarette or vaping products-associated lung injury (EVALI). The primary components of vaping products include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), vitamin E acetate (VEA) and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), may be responsible for acute lung toxicity. Currently, little information is available on the physiological and biological effects of exposure to these products. We hypothesized that these CBD/counterfeit vape cartridges and their constituents (VEA and MCT) induce pulmonary toxicity, mediated by oxidative damage and inflammatory responses, leading to acute lung injury. We studied the potential mechanisms of CBD/counterfeit vape cartridge aerosol induced inflammatory response by evaluating the generation of reactive oxygen species by MCT, VEA, and cartridges and their effects on the inflammatory state of pulmonary epithelium and immune cells both in vitro and in vivo. Cells exposed to these aerosols generated reactive oxygen species, caused cytotoxicity, induced epithelial barrier dysfunction, and elicited an inflammatory response. Using a murine model, the parameters of acute toxicity to aerosol inhalation were assessed. Infiltration of neutrophils and lymphocytes was accompanied by significant increases in IL-6, eotaxin, and G-CSF in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). In mouse BALF, eicosanoid inflammatory mediators, leukotrienes, were significantly increased. Plasma from e-cig users also showed increased levels of hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (HETEs) and various eicosanoids. Exposure to CBD/counterfeit vape cartridge aerosols showed the most significant effects and toxicity compared to MCT and VEA. In addition, we determined SARS-CoV-2 related proteins and found no impact associated with aerosol exposures from these tested cartridges. Overall, this study demonstrates acute exposure to specific CBD/counterfeit vape cartridges induces in vitro cytotoxicity, barrier dysfunction, and inflammation and in vivo mouse exposure induces acute inflammation with elevated proinflammatory markers in the pathogenesis of EVALI. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Knowledge of E-cigarettes and Heated Tobacco Products)
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Article
Occurrence of Microplastic Pollution at Oyster Reefs and Other Coastal Sites in the Mississippi Sound, USA: Impacts of Freshwater Inflows from Flooding
Toxics 2020, 8(2), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics8020035 - 15 May 2020
Cited by 22
Abstract
Much of the seafood that humans consume comes from estuaries and coastal areas where microplastics (MPs) accumulate, due in part to continual input and degradation of plastic litter from rivers and runoff. As filter feeders, oysters (Crassostrea virginica) are especially vulnerable [...] Read more.
Much of the seafood that humans consume comes from estuaries and coastal areas where microplastics (MPs) accumulate, due in part to continual input and degradation of plastic litter from rivers and runoff. As filter feeders, oysters (Crassostrea virginica) are especially vulnerable to MP pollution. In this study, we assessed MP pollution in water at oyster reefs along the Mississippi Gulf Coast when: (1) historic flooding of the Mississippi River caused the Bonnet Carré Spillway to remain open for a record period of time causing major freshwater intrusion to the area and deleterious impacts on the species and (2) the spillway was closed, and normal salinity conditions resumed. Microplastics (~25 µm–5 mm) were isolated using a single-pot method, preparing samples in the same vessel (Mason jars) used for their collection right up until the MPs were transferred onto filters for analyses. The MPs were quantified using Nile Red fluorescence detection and identified using laser direct infrared (LDIR) analysis. Concentrations ranged from ~12 to 381 particles/L and tended to decrease at sites impacted by major freshwater intrusion. With the spillway open, average MP concentrations were positively correlated with salinity (r = 0.87, p = 0.05) for sites with three or more samples examined. However, the dilution effect on MP abundances was temporary, and oyster yields suffered from the extended periods of lower salinity. There were no significant changes in the relative distribution of MPs during freshwater intrusions; most of the MPs (>50%) were in the lower size fraction (~25–90 µm) and consisted mostly of fragments (~84%), followed by fibers (~11%) and beads (~5%). The most prevalent plastic was polyester, followed by acrylates/polyurethanes, polyamide, polypropylene, polyethylene, and polyacetal. Overall, this work provides much-needed empirical data on the abundances, morphologies, and types of MPs that oysters are exposed to in the Mississippi Sound, although how much of these MPs are ingested and their impacts on the organisms deserves further scrutiny. This paper is believed to be the first major application of LDIR to the analysis of MPs in natural waters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prevalence, Fate and Effects of Plastic in Freshwater Environments)
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Article
Chemical Constituents Involved in E-Cigarette, or Vaping Product Use-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI)
Toxics 2020, 8(2), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics8020025 - 03 Apr 2020
Cited by 27
Abstract
The Centers for Disease Control declared e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) a national outbreak due to the high incidence of emergency department admissions and deaths. We have identified chemical constituents in e-cig counterfeit cartridges and compared these to medical-grade and [...] Read more.
The Centers for Disease Control declared e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) a national outbreak due to the high incidence of emergency department admissions and deaths. We have identified chemical constituents in e-cig counterfeit cartridges and compared these to medical-grade and CBD containing cartridges. Apart from vitamin E acetate (VEA) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), other potential toxicants were identified including solvent-derived hydrocarbons, silicon conjugated compounds, various terpenes, pesticides/plasticizers/polycaprolactones, and metals. This study provides additional insights into the chemicals associated with EVALI cartridges and thus may contribute to the underlying disease mechanism of acute lung injury. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Knowledge of E-cigarettes and Heated Tobacco Products)
Article
Remediation of Cr(VI)-Contaminated Soil by Nano-Zero-Valent Iron in Combination with Biochar or Humic Acid and the Consequences for Plant Performance
Toxics 2020, 8(2), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics8020026 - 03 Apr 2020
Cited by 8
Abstract
Nano-scale zero-valent iron (nZVI) is among the most common nanoparticles widely used for the treatment of various environmental contaminants. However, little is known about the combined effects of nano-zero-valent iron (nZVI) and other soil amendments on soil remediation and plant performance. For the [...] Read more.
Nano-scale zero-valent iron (nZVI) is among the most common nanoparticles widely used for the treatment of various environmental contaminants. However, little is known about the combined effects of nano-zero-valent iron (nZVI) and other soil amendments on soil remediation and plant performance. For the first time, we studied the remediation of Cr(VI)-contaminated soil using bare nZVI (B-nZVI) and starch-supported nZVI (S-nZVI) in combination with either biochar (BC) or humic acid (HA), and the consequent effects on plant growth and Cr accumulation. Both S-nZVI and B-nZVI decreased the contents of Cr(VI) and available Cr in soil, but increased available Fe content, with S-nZVI generally showing more pronounced effects at a higher dose (1000 mg/kg). B-nZVI exerted no inhibition and even stimulation on plant growth, but 1000 mg/kg S-nZVI produced significant phytotoxicity, resulting in decreased plant growth, low chlorophyll content in leaves, and excessive accumulation of Fe in roots. Each nZVI decreased shoot and root Cr concentrations. BC and HA produced synergistic effects with nZVI on Cr(VI) removal from soil, but HA decreased soil pH and increased the availability of Cr and Fe, implying a potential environmental risk. Addition of BC or HA did not alter the effects of either nZVI on plant growth. In conclusion, combined application of 100 mg/kg nZVI and BC could be an ideal strategy for the remediation of soil contaminated with Cr(VI), whereas high-dose S-nZVI and HA are not recommended in the remediation of agricultural soils for crop production or in the phytostabilization of Cr(VI). Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Risk Assessment and Management)
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Article
‘The Plastic Nile’: First Evidence of Microplastic Contamination in Fish from the Nile River (Cairo, Egypt)
Toxics 2020, 8(2), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics8020022 - 25 Mar 2020
Cited by 16
Abstract
The presence of microplastics (MPs) in the world’s longest river, the Nile River, has yet to be reported. This small-scale study aimed to provide the first information about MPs in the Nile River by sampling the digestive tracts of two fish species, the [...] Read more.
The presence of microplastics (MPs) in the world’s longest river, the Nile River, has yet to be reported. This small-scale study aimed to provide the first information about MPs in the Nile River by sampling the digestive tracts of two fish species, the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus, n = 29) and catfish (Bagrus bayad, n = 14). Fish were purchased from local sellers in Cairo, and then their gastrointestinal tracts were dissected and examined for MPs. Over 75% of the fish sampled contained MPs in their digestive tract (MP prevalence of 75.9% and 78.6% for Nile tilapia and catfish, respectively). The most abundant MP type was fibers (65%), the next most abundant type was films (26.5%), and the remaining MPs were fragments. Polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polypropylene (PP) were all non-destructively identified by attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. A comparison with similar studies from marine and freshwater environments shows that this high level of MP ingestion is rarely found and that fish sampled from the Nile River in Cairo are potentially among the most in danger of consuming MPs worldwide. Further research needs to be conducted, but, in order to mitigate microplastic pollution in the Nile River, we must act now. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prevalence, Fate and Effects of Plastic in Freshwater Environments)
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Article
A Comparison of the Nephrotoxicity of Low Doses of Cadmium and Lead
Toxics 2020, 8(1), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics8010018 - 02 Mar 2020
Cited by 13
Abstract
Environmental exposure to moderate-to-high levels of cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) is associated with nephrotoxicity. In comparison, the health impacts of chronic low-level exposure to Cd and Pb remain controversial. The aim of this study was to therefore evaluate kidney dysfunction associated with [...] Read more.
Environmental exposure to moderate-to-high levels of cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) is associated with nephrotoxicity. In comparison, the health impacts of chronic low-level exposure to Cd and Pb remain controversial. The aim of this study was to therefore evaluate kidney dysfunction associated with chronic low-level exposure to Cd and Pb in a population of residents in Bangkok, Thailand. The mean age and the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) for 392 participants (195 men and 197 women) were 34.9 years and 104 mL/min/1.73 m2, respectively, while the geometric mean concentrations of urinary Cd and Pb were 0.25 μg/L (0.45 μg/g of creatinine) and 0.89 μg/L (1.52 μg/g of creatinine), respectively. In a multivariable regression analysis, the eGFR varied inversely with blood urea nitrogen in both men (β = −0.125, p = 0.044) and women (β = −0.170, p = 0.008), while inverse associations of the eGFR with urinary Cd (β = −0.132, p = 0.043) and urinary Pb (β = −0.130, p = 0.044) were seen only in women. An increased urinary level of Cd to the median level of 0.38 μg/L (0.44 μg/g of creatinine) was associated with a decrease in the eGFR by 4.94 mL/min/1.73 m2 (p = 0.011). The prevalence odds of a reduced eGFR rose 2.5-, 2.9- and 2.3-fold in the urinary Cd quartile 3 (p = 0.013), the urinary Cd quartile 4 (p = 0.008), and the urinary Pb quartile 4 (p = 0.039), respectively. This study suggests that chronic exposure to low-level Cd is associated with a decline in kidney function and that women may be more susceptible than men to nephrotoxicity due to an elevated intake of Cd and Pb. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxic Metals, Chronic Diseases and Related Cancers)
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Article
Evaluation of Existing Models to Estimate Sorption Coefficients for Ionisable Pharmaceuticals in Soils and Sludge
Toxics 2020, 8(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics8010013 - 11 Feb 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
In order to assess the environmental risk of a pharmaceutical, information is needed on the sorption of the compound to solids. Here we use a high-quality database of measured sorption coefficients, all determined following internationally recognised protocols, to evaluate models that have been [...] Read more.
In order to assess the environmental risk of a pharmaceutical, information is needed on the sorption of the compound to solids. Here we use a high-quality database of measured sorption coefficients, all determined following internationally recognised protocols, to evaluate models that have been proposed for estimating sorption of pharmaceuticals from chemical structure, some of which are already being used for environmental risk assessment and prioritization purposes. Our analyses demonstrate that octanol-water partition coefficient (Kow) alone is not an effective predictor of ionisable pharmaceutical sorption in soils. Polyparameter models based on pharmaceutical characteristics in combination with key soil properties, such as cation exchange capacity, increase model complexity but yield an improvement in the predictive capability of soil sorption models. Nevertheless, as the models included in this analysis were only able to predict a maximum of 71% and 67% of the sorption coefficients for the compounds to within one log unit of the corresponding measured value in soils and sludge, respectively, there is a need for new models to be developed to better predict the sorption of ionisable pharmaceuticals in soil and sludge systems. The variation in sorption coefficients, even for a single pharmaceutical across different solid types, makes this an inherently difficult task, and therefore requires a broad understanding of both chemical and sorbent properties driving the sorption process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Risk Assessment and Management)
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Article
Biomonitoring of Trace Elements in Subjects Living Near a Hazardous Waste Incinerator: Concentrations in Autopsy Tissues
Toxics 2020, 8(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics8010011 - 11 Feb 2020
Cited by 6
Abstract
The only hazardous waste incinerator (HWI) in Spain started to operate in 1999. Twenty years later, the levels of 11 trace elements (As, Be, Cd, Cr, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sn, Tl and V) were analyzed in five different autopsy tissues (kidney, liver, [...] Read more.
The only hazardous waste incinerator (HWI) in Spain started to operate in 1999. Twenty years later, the levels of 11 trace elements (As, Be, Cd, Cr, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sn, Tl and V) were analyzed in five different autopsy tissues (kidney, liver, brain, bone and lung) from 20 individuals who had been living near the facility. In 2019, As, Be, Tl and V were not detected in any of the analyzed tissues, while Hg could be only quantified in very few samples. The highest levels of Cd and Pb were found in kidney and bone, respectively, while those of Mn were observed in liver and kidney. In turn, the mean concentrations of Cr and Sn were very similar in all tissues. A consistent temporal trend (1998–2019) was only found for Cr and Pb. On the one hand, the mean Cr concentrations in kidney and bone have increased progressively since 1998. In contrast, the mean levels of Pb decreased significantly over time, probably due to ban of Pb as gasoline additive. The data global analysis indicates that the emissions of trace elements by the HWI have not increased the exposure and/or accumulation of these elements in individuals living near the facility. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxic Metals, Chronic Diseases and Related Cancers)
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Article
Enchytraeus crypticus Avoid Soil Spiked with Microplastic
Toxics 2020, 8(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics8010010 - 10 Feb 2020
Cited by 9
Abstract
Microplastics (MPs) of varying sizes are widespread pollutants in our environment. The general opinion is that the smaller the size, the more dangerous the MPs are due to enhanced uptake possibilities. It would be of considerably ecological significance to understand the response of [...] Read more.
Microplastics (MPs) of varying sizes are widespread pollutants in our environment. The general opinion is that the smaller the size, the more dangerous the MPs are due to enhanced uptake possibilities. It would be of considerably ecological significance to understand the response of biota to microplastic contamination both physically and physiologically. Here, we report on an area choice experiment (avoidance test) using Enchytraeus crypticus, in which we mixed different amounts of high-density polyethylene microplastic particles into the soil. In all experimental scenarios, more Enchytraeids moved to the unspiked sections or chose a lower MP-concentration. Worms in contact with MP exhibited an enhanced oxidative stress status, measured as the induced activity of the antioxidative enzymes catalase and glutathione S-transferase. As plastic polymers per se are nontoxic, the exposure time employed was too short for chemicals to leach from the microplastic, and as the microplastic particles used in these experiments were too large (4 mm) to be consumed by the Enchytraeids, the likely cause for the avoidance and oxidative stress could be linked to altered soil properties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prevalence, Fate and Effects of Plastic in Freshwater Environments)
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Article
Analysis of Cannabinoid-Containing Fluids in Illicit Vaping Cartridges Recovered from Pulmonary Injury Patients: Identification of Vitamin E Acetate as a Major Diluent
Toxics 2020, 8(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics8010008 - 24 Jan 2020
Cited by 43
Abstract
Beginning in June of 2019, there was a marked increase in reported cases of serious pulmonary injury associated with vaping. The condition, referred to as e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), does not appear to involve an infectious agent; rather, a [...] Read more.
Beginning in June of 2019, there was a marked increase in reported cases of serious pulmonary injury associated with vaping. The condition, referred to as e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), does not appear to involve an infectious agent; rather, a chemical adulterant or contaminant in vaping fluids is suspected. In August of 2019, the Wadsworth Center began receiving vaporizer cartridges recovered from patients with EVALI for analysis. Having no a priori information of what might be in the cartridges, we employed untargeted analyses using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and high-resolution mass spectrometry to identify components of concern. Additionally, we employed targeted analyses used for New York medical marijuana products. Here, we report on the analyses of 38 samples from the first 10 New York cases of EVALI for which we obtained cartridges. The illicit fluids had relatively low cannabinoid content, sometimes with unusual Δ9-/Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol ratios, sometimes containing pesticides and many containing diluents. A notable diluent was α-tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E acetate; VEA), which was found in 64% of the cannabinoid-containing fluids. To investigate potential sources of the VEA, we analyzed six commercial cannabis-oil diluents/thickeners. Three were found to be >95% VEA, two were found to be primarily squalane, and one was primarily α-bisabolol. The cause(s) of EVALI is unknown. VEA and squalane are components of some personal care products; however, there is growing concern that vaping large amounts of these compounds is not safe. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Knowledge of E-cigarettes and Heated Tobacco Products)
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Article
Biomonitoring of Trace Elements in Hair of Schoolchildren Living Near a Hazardous Waste Incinerator—A 20 Years Follow-Up
Toxics 2019, 7(4), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics7040052 - 01 Oct 2019
Cited by 16
Abstract
Since 1998, a monitoring program is periodically performed to assess the environmental and human health impact of air chemicals potentially emitted by a hazardous waste incinerator (HWI) located in Constantí (Catalonia, Spain). In 2017, samples of hair were collected from 94 schoolchildren (aged [...] Read more.
Since 1998, a monitoring program is periodically performed to assess the environmental and human health impact of air chemicals potentially emitted by a hazardous waste incinerator (HWI) located in Constantí (Catalonia, Spain). In 2017, samples of hair were collected from 94 schoolchildren (aged 10–13 years) living nearby and the levels of 11 trace elements (As, Be, Cd, Cr, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sn, Tl and V) were determined. The concentrations showed the following descending order: Pb > Hg > Ni > Sn > Mn > Cr. In turn, As, Be and Tl were not detected, while Cd and V were found only in a few samples. Some metal levels were significantly, positively correlated. Some significant differences were also noticed according to the gender and the specific zone of residence. Finally, the levels of trace elements showed fluctuations through time. Cr and Pb showed a significant decrease in comparison to the concentrations obtained in the baseline study (1998). According to the current results, metal emissions from the HWI are not relevant in terms of human health impact since their levels were similar and even lower than those reported in other contaminated areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxic Metals, Chronic Diseases and Related Cancers)
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Article
Trace Element Uptake by Herbaceous Plants from the Soils at a Multiple Trace Element-Contaminated Site
Toxics 2019, 7(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics7010003 - 17 Jan 2019
Cited by 15
Abstract
The uptake of trace elements by wild herbaceous plants in a multiple trace element-contaminated site was investigated. The bioaccumulation factor (BF) of trace elements was markedly variable among the different plant species. On average, the BF for various trace elements was in the [...] Read more.
The uptake of trace elements by wild herbaceous plants in a multiple trace element-contaminated site was investigated. The bioaccumulation factor (BF) of trace elements was markedly variable among the different plant species. On average, the BF for various trace elements was in the following decreasing order: Zn > Cu > Mn > Ni > As > Pb > Cr. The translocation factor among the investigated plant species was also considerably variable and showed the following decreasing order: Mn > Zn > Ni > Cu > Cr > As > Pb. Several hyperaccumulating plants were identified: Artemisia vulgaris for As, Mn and Zn, Phalaris arundinacea for Mn and Ni, Heracleum sphondylium for Cr and Zn, and Bistorta officinalis for Mn and Zn. The marked accumulation of trace elements in the plant tissue suggests that the site may not be suitable for urban agricultural production. The plant tissue-borne trace elements could affect microbial activities and consequently interfere with the ecosystem functioning in the affected areas. Full article
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Review

Review
Emerging Links between Cadmium Exposure and Insulin Resistance: Human, Animal, and Cell Study Data
Toxics 2020, 8(3), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics8030063 - 27 Aug 2020
Cited by 15
Abstract
Recent research has helped clarify the role of cadmium (Cd) in various pathological states. We have demonstrated Cd involvement in pancreatic cancer, as well as the bioaccumulation of Cd in the pancreas. Bioaccumulation and increased toxicity suggest that Cd may also be involved [...] Read more.
Recent research has helped clarify the role of cadmium (Cd) in various pathological states. We have demonstrated Cd involvement in pancreatic cancer, as well as the bioaccumulation of Cd in the pancreas. Bioaccumulation and increased toxicity suggest that Cd may also be involved in other pancreas-mediated diseases, like diabetes. Cd falls into the category of “hyperglycemic” metals, i.e., metals that increase blood glucose levels, which could be due to increased gluconeogenesis, damage to β-cells leading to reduced insulin production, or insulin resistance at target tissue resulting in a lack of glucose uptake. This review addresses the current evidence for the role of Cd, leading to insulin resistance from human, animal, and in vitro studies. Available data have shown that Cd may affect normal insulin function through multiple pathways. There is evidence that Cd exposure results in the perturbation of the enzymes and modulatory proteins involved in insulin signal transduction at the target tissue and mutations of the insulin receptor. Cd, through well-described mechanisms of oxidative stress, inflammation, and mitochondrial damage, may also alter insulin production in β-cells. More work is necessary to elucidate the mechanisms associated with Cd-mediated insulin resistance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxic Metals, Chronic Diseases and Related Cancers)
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Review
Human Biomonitoring of Glyphosate Exposures: State-of-the-Art and Future Research Challenges
Toxics 2020, 8(3), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics8030060 - 18 Aug 2020
Cited by 16
Abstract
Glyphosate continues to attract controversial debate following the International Agency for Research on Cancer carcinogenicity classification in 2015. Despite its ubiquitous presence in our environment, there remains a dearth of data on human exposure to both glyphosate and its main biodegradation product aminomethylphosphonic [...] Read more.
Glyphosate continues to attract controversial debate following the International Agency for Research on Cancer carcinogenicity classification in 2015. Despite its ubiquitous presence in our environment, there remains a dearth of data on human exposure to both glyphosate and its main biodegradation product aminomethylphosphonic (AMPA). Herein, we reviewed and compared results from 21 studies that use human biomonitoring (HBM) to measure urinary glyphosate and AMPA. Elucidation of the level and range of exposure was complicated by differences in sampling strategy, analytical methods, and data presentation. Exposure data is required to enable a more robust regulatory risk assessment, and these studies included higher occupational exposures, environmental exposures, and vulnerable groups such as children. There was also considerable uncertainty regarding the absorption and excretion pattern of glyphosate and AMPA in humans. This information is required to back-calculate exposure doses from urinary levels and thus, then compare these levels with health-based guidance values. Back-calculations based on animal-derived excretion rates suggested that there were no health concerns in relation to glyphosate exposure (when compared with EFSA acceptable daily intake (ADI)). However, recent human metabolism data has reported as low as a 1% urinary excretion rate of glyphosate. Human exposures extrapolated from urinary glyphosate concentrations found that upper-bound levels may be much closer to the ADI than previously reported. Full article
Review
Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Neurotoxicity in Sentinel and Non-Traditional Laboratory Model Systems: Potential Utility in Predicting Adverse Outcomes in Human Health
Toxics 2020, 8(2), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics8020042 - 15 Jun 2020
Cited by 8
Abstract
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of chemicals that were widely used in manufacturing and are now present in the environment throughout the world. It is known that various PFAS are quantifiable in human in blood, but potential adverse health outcomes [...] Read more.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of chemicals that were widely used in manufacturing and are now present in the environment throughout the world. It is known that various PFAS are quantifiable in human in blood, but potential adverse health outcomes remain unclear. Sentinel and non-traditional model species are useful to study potential toxicity of PFAS in order to understand the relationship between environmental and human health. Here, we present a critical review of studies on the neurotoxicity of PFAS in sentinel and non-traditional laboratory model systems, including Caenorhabditis elegans (nematode), Dugesia japonica (planarian), Rana pipiens (frogs), Danio rerio and Oryzias melastigma (fish), and Ursus maritimus (polar bears). PFAS have been implicated in developmental neurotoxicity in non-traditional and traditional model systems as well as sentinel species, including effects on neurotransmitter levels, especially acetylcholine and its metabolism. However, further research on the mechanisms of toxicity needs to be conducted to determine if these chemicals are affecting organisms in a similar manner. Overall, findings tend to be similar among the various species, but bioaccumulation may vary, which needs to be taken into account in future studies by quantifying target organ concentrations of PFAS to better compare different species. Furthermore, data on the majority of PFAS is lacking in neurotoxicity testing, and additional studies are needed to corroborate findings thus far. Full article
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Review
Interaction of Environmental Pollutants with Microplastics: A Critical Review of Sorption Factors, Bioaccumulation and Ecotoxicological Effects
Toxics 2020, 8(2), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics8020040 - 02 Jun 2020
Cited by 22
Abstract
Microplastics have become one of the leading environmental threats due to their persistence, ubiquity and intrinsic toxic potential. The potential harm that microplastics impose on ecosystems varies from direct effects (i.e., entanglement and ingestion) to their ability to sorb a diversity of environmental [...] Read more.
Microplastics have become one of the leading environmental threats due to their persistence, ubiquity and intrinsic toxic potential. The potential harm that microplastics impose on ecosystems varies from direct effects (i.e., entanglement and ingestion) to their ability to sorb a diversity of environmental pollutants (e.g., heavy metals, persistent organic compounds or pharmaceuticals). Therefore, the toxicological assessment of the combined effects of microplastics and sorbed pollutants can produce in biota is one of the hottest topics on the environmental toxicology field. This review aims to clarify the main impacts that this interaction could have on ecosystems by (1) highlighting the principal factors that influence the microplastics sorption capacities; (2) discussing the potential scenarios in which microplastics may have an essential role on the bioaccumulation and transfer of chemicals; and (3) reviewing the recently published studies describing toxicological effects caused by the combination of microplastics and their sorbed chemicals. Finally, a discussion regarding the need for a new generation of toxicological studies is presented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Underexplored Chemical Interactions in Humans and Wildlife)
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Review
Gut Microbiome Toxicity: Connecting the Environment and Gut Microbiome-Associated Diseases
Toxics 2020, 8(1), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics8010019 - 12 Mar 2020
Cited by 13
Abstract
The human gut microbiome can be easily disturbed upon exposure to a range of toxic environmental agents. Environmentally induced perturbation in the gut microbiome is strongly associated with human disease risk. Functional gut microbiome alterations that may adversely influence human health is an [...] Read more.
The human gut microbiome can be easily disturbed upon exposure to a range of toxic environmental agents. Environmentally induced perturbation in the gut microbiome is strongly associated with human disease risk. Functional gut microbiome alterations that may adversely influence human health is an increasingly appreciated mechanism by which environmental chemicals exert their toxic effects. In this review, we define the functional damage driven by environmental exposure in the gut microbiome as gut microbiome toxicity. The establishment of gut microbiome toxicity links the toxic effects of various environmental agents and microbiota-associated diseases, calling for more comprehensive toxicity evaluation with extended consideration of gut microbiome toxicity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarkers of Environmental Toxicants)
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Review
Towards Mass Spectrometry-Based Chemical Exposome: Current Approaches, Challenges, and Future Directions
Toxics 2019, 7(3), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics7030041 - 18 Aug 2019
Cited by 11
Abstract
The proposal of the “exposome” concept represents a shift of the research paradigm in studying exposure-disease relationships from an isolated and partial way to a systematic and agnostic approach. Nevertheless, exposome implementation is facing a variety of challenges including measurement techniques and data [...] Read more.
The proposal of the “exposome” concept represents a shift of the research paradigm in studying exposure-disease relationships from an isolated and partial way to a systematic and agnostic approach. Nevertheless, exposome implementation is facing a variety of challenges including measurement techniques and data analysis. Here we focus on the chemical exposome, which refers to the mixtures of chemical pollutants people are exposed to from embryo onwards. We review the current chemical exposome measurement approaches with a focus on those based on the mass spectrometry. We further explore the strategies in implementing the concept of chemical exposome and discuss the available chemical exposome studies. Early progresses in the chemical exposome research are outlined, and major challenges are highlighted. In conclusion, efforts towards chemical exposome have only uncovered the tip of the iceberg, and further advancement in measurement techniques, computational tools, high-throughput data analysis, and standardization may allow more exciting discoveries concerning the role of exposome in human health and disease. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarkers of Environmental Toxicants)
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Review
Bioanalytical and Mass Spectrometric Methods for Aldehyde Profiling in Biological Fluids
Toxics 2019, 7(2), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics7020032 - 04 Jun 2019
Cited by 12
Abstract
Human exposure to aldehydes is implicated in multiple diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative disorders (i.e., Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases), and cancer. Because these compounds are strong electrophiles, they can react with nucleophilic sites in DNA and proteins to form reversible and irreversible [...] Read more.
Human exposure to aldehydes is implicated in multiple diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative disorders (i.e., Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases), and cancer. Because these compounds are strong electrophiles, they can react with nucleophilic sites in DNA and proteins to form reversible and irreversible modifications. These modifications, if not eliminated or repaired, can lead to alteration in cellular homeostasis, cell death and ultimately contribute to disease pathogenesis. This review provides an overview of the current knowledge of the methods and applications of aldehyde exposure measurements, with a particular focus on bioanalytical and mass spectrometric techniques, including recent advances in mass spectrometry (MS)-based profiling methods for identifying potential biomarkers of aldehyde exposure. We discuss the various derivatization reagents used to capture small polar aldehydes and methods to quantify these compounds in biological matrices. In addition, we present emerging mass spectrometry-based methods, which use high-resolution accurate mass (HR/AM) analysis for characterizing carbonyl compounds and their potential applications in molecular epidemiology studies. With the availability of diverse bioanalytical methods presented here including simple and rapid techniques allowing remote monitoring of aldehydes, real-time imaging of aldehydic load in cells, advances in MS instrumentation, high performance chromatographic separation, and improved bioinformatics tools, the data acquired enable increased sensitivity for identifying specific aldehydes and new biomarkers of aldehyde exposure. Finally, the combination of these techniques with exciting new methods for single cell analysis provides the potential for detection and profiling of aldehydes at a cellular level, opening up the opportunity to minutely dissect their roles and biological consequences in cellular metabolism and diseases pathogenesis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarkers of Environmental Toxicants)
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Review
A Review of Biomonitoring of Phthalate Exposures
Toxics 2019, 7(2), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics7020021 - 05 Apr 2019
Cited by 160
Abstract
Phthalates (diesters of phthalic acid) are widely used as plasticizers and additives in many consumer products. Laboratory animal studies have reported the endocrine-disrupting and reproductive effects of phthalates, and human exposure to this class of chemicals is a concern. Several phthalates have been [...] Read more.
Phthalates (diesters of phthalic acid) are widely used as plasticizers and additives in many consumer products. Laboratory animal studies have reported the endocrine-disrupting and reproductive effects of phthalates, and human exposure to this class of chemicals is a concern. Several phthalates have been recognized as substances of high concern. Human exposure to phthalates occurs mainly via dietary sources, dermal absorption, and air inhalation. Phthalates are excreted as conjugated monoesters in urine, and some phthalates, such as di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), undergo secondary metabolism, including oxidative transformation, prior to urinary excretion. The occurrence of phthalates and their metabolites in urine, serum, breast milk, and semen has been widely reported. Urine has been the preferred matrix in human biomonitoring studies, and concentrations on the order of several tens to hundreds of nanograms per milliliter have been reported for several phthalate metabolites. Metabolites of diethyl phthalate (DEP), dibutyl- (DBP) and diisobutyl- (DiBP) phthalates, and DEHP were the most abundant compounds measured in urine. Temporal trends in phthalate exposures varied among countries. In the United States (US), DEHP exposure has declined since 2005, whereas DiNP exposure has increased. In China, DEHP exposure has increased since 2000. For many phthalates, exposures in children are higher than those in adults. Human epidemiological studies have shown a significant association between phthalate exposures and adverse reproductive outcomes in women and men, type II diabetes and insulin resistance, overweight/obesity, allergy, and asthma. This review compiles biomonitoring studies of phthalates and exposure doses to assess health risks from phthalate exposures in populations across the globe. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarkers of Environmental Toxicants)
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Review
The Versatile Roles of the tRNA Epitranscriptome during Cellular Responses to Toxic Exposures and Environmental Stress
Toxics 2019, 7(1), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics7010017 - 25 Mar 2019
Cited by 25
Abstract
Living organisms respond to environmental changes and xenobiotic exposures by regulating gene expression. While heat shock, unfolded protein, and DNA damage stress responses are well-studied at the levels of the transcriptome and proteome, tRNA-mediated mechanisms are only recently emerging as important modulators of [...] Read more.
Living organisms respond to environmental changes and xenobiotic exposures by regulating gene expression. While heat shock, unfolded protein, and DNA damage stress responses are well-studied at the levels of the transcriptome and proteome, tRNA-mediated mechanisms are only recently emerging as important modulators of cellular stress responses. Regulation of the stress response by tRNA shows a high functional diversity, ranging from the control of tRNA maturation and translation initiation, to translational enhancement through modification-mediated codon-biased translation of mRNAs encoding stress response proteins, and translational repression by stress-induced tRNA fragments. tRNAs need to be heavily modified post-transcriptionally for full activity, and it is becoming increasingly clear that many aspects of tRNA metabolism and function are regulated through the dynamic introduction and removal of modifications. This review will discuss the many ways that nucleoside modifications confer high functional diversity to tRNAs, with a focus on tRNA modification-mediated regulation of the eukaryotic response to environmental stress and toxicant exposures. Additionally, the potential applications of tRNA modification biology in the development of early biomarkers of pathology will be highlighted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarkers of Environmental Toxicants)
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Review
Recent Studies on DNA Adducts Resulting from Human Exposure to Tobacco Smoke
Toxics 2019, 7(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics7010016 - 19 Mar 2019
Cited by 22
Abstract
DNA adducts are believed to play a central role in the induction of cancer in cigarette smokers and are proposed as being potential biomarkers of cancer risk. We have summarized research conducted since 2012 on DNA adduct formation in smokers. A variety of [...] Read more.
DNA adducts are believed to play a central role in the induction of cancer in cigarette smokers and are proposed as being potential biomarkers of cancer risk. We have summarized research conducted since 2012 on DNA adduct formation in smokers. A variety of DNA adducts derived from various classes of carcinogens, including aromatic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, tobacco-specific nitrosamines, alkylating agents, aldehydes, volatile carcinogens, as well as oxidative damage have been reported. The results are discussed with particular attention to the analytical methods used in those studies. Mass spectrometry-based methods that have higher selectivity and specificity compared to 32P-postlabeling or immunochemical approaches are preferred. Multiple DNA adducts specific to tobacco constituents have also been characterized for the first time in vitro or detected in vivo since 2012, and descriptions of those adducts are included. We also discuss common issues related to measuring DNA adducts in humans, including the development and validation of analytical methods and prevention of artifact formation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarkers of Environmental Toxicants)
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Review
Exploration of Computational Approaches to Predict the Toxicity of Chemical Mixtures
Toxics 2019, 7(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics7010015 - 19 Mar 2019
Cited by 36
Abstract
Industrial advances have led to generation of multi-component chemicals, materials and pharmaceuticals which are directly or indirectly affecting the environment. Although toxicity data are available for individual chemicals, generally there is no toxicity data of chemical mixtures. Most importantly, the nature of toxicity [...] Read more.
Industrial advances have led to generation of multi-component chemicals, materials and pharmaceuticals which are directly or indirectly affecting the environment. Although toxicity data are available for individual chemicals, generally there is no toxicity data of chemical mixtures. Most importantly, the nature of toxicity of these studied mixtures is completely different to the single components, which makes the toxicity evaluation of mixtures more critical and challenging. Interactions of individual chemicals in a mixture can result in multifaceted and considerable deviations in the apparent properties of its ingredients. It results in synergistic or antagonistic effects as opposed to the ideal case of additive behavior i.e., concentration addition (CA) and independent action (IA). The CA and IA are leading models for the assessment of joint activity supported by pharmacology literature. Animal models for toxicity testing are time- and money-consuming as well as unethical. Thus, computational approaches are already proven efficient alternatives for assessing the toxicity of chemicals by regulatory authorities followed by industries. In silico methods are capable of predicting toxicity, prioritizing chemicals, identifying risk and assessing, followed by managing, the risk. In many cases, the mechanism behind the toxicity from species to species can be understood by in silico methods. Until today most of the computational approaches have been employed for single chemical’s toxicity. Thus, only a handful of works in the literature and methods are available for a mixture’s toxicity prediction employing computational or in silico approaches. Therefore, the present review explains the importance of evaluation of a mixture’s toxicity, the role of computational approaches to assess the toxicity, followed by types of in silico methods. Additionally, successful application of in silico tools in a mixture’s toxicity predictions is explained in detail. Finally, future avenues towards the role and application of computational approaches in a mixture’s toxicity are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxicity of Chemical Mixtures)
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Review
Environmental Contaminants Exposure and Preterm Birth: A Systematic Review
Toxics 2019, 7(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics7010011 - 01 Mar 2019
Cited by 17
Abstract
Preterm birth is an obstetric condition associated with a high risk of infant mortality and morbidities in both the neonatal period and later in life, which has also a significant public health impact because it carries an important societal economic burden. As in [...] Read more.
Preterm birth is an obstetric condition associated with a high risk of infant mortality and morbidities in both the neonatal period and later in life, which has also a significant public health impact because it carries an important societal economic burden. As in many cases the etiology is unknown, it is important to identify environmental factors that may be involved in the occurrence of this condition. In this review, we report all the studies published in PubMed and Scopus databases from January 1992 to January 2019, accessible as full-text articles, written in English, including clinical studies, original studies, and reviews. We excluded articles not written in English, duplicates, considering inappropriate populations and/or exposures or irrelevant outcomes and patients with known risk factors for preterm birth (PTB). The aim of this article is to identify and summarize the studies that examine environmental toxicants exposure associated with preterm birth. This knowledge will strengthen the possibility to develop strategies to reduce the exposure to these toxicants and apply clinical measures for preterm birth prevention. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prenatal Exposure to Toxics and Risks in Infants)
Review
Metabolic Syndrome and Air Pollution: A Narrative Review of Their Cardiopulmonary Effects
Toxics 2019, 7(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics7010006 - 30 Jan 2019
Cited by 9
Abstract
Particulate matter (PM) exposure and metabolic syndrome (MetSyn) are both significant global health burdens. PM exposure has been implicated in the pathogenesis of MetSyn and cardiopulmonary diseases. Individuals with pre-existing MetSyn may be more susceptible to the detrimental effects of PM exposure. Our [...] Read more.
Particulate matter (PM) exposure and metabolic syndrome (MetSyn) are both significant global health burdens. PM exposure has been implicated in the pathogenesis of MetSyn and cardiopulmonary diseases. Individuals with pre-existing MetSyn may be more susceptible to the detrimental effects of PM exposure. Our aim was to provide a narrative review of MetSyn/PM-induced systemic inflammation in cardiopulmonary disease, with a focus on prior studies of the World Trade Center (WTC)-exposed Fire Department of New York (FDNY). We included studies (1) published within the last 16-years; (2) described the epidemiology of MetSyn, obstructive airway disease (OAD), and vascular disease in PM-exposed individuals; (3) detailed the known mechanisms of PM-induced inflammation, MetSyn and cardiopulmonary disease; and (4) focused on the effects of PM exposure in WTC-exposed FDNY firefighters. Several investigations support that inhalation of PM elicits pulmonary and systemic inflammation resulting in MetSyn and cardiopulmonary disease. Furthermore, individuals with these preexisting conditions are more sensitive to PM exposure-related inflammation, which can exacerbate their conditions and increase their risk for hospitalization and chronic disease. Mechanistic research is required to elucidate biologically plausible therapeutic targets of MetSyn- and PM-induced cardiopulmonary disease. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Toxicology)
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Review
Comparative Overview of the Mechanisms of Action of Hormones and Endocrine Disruptor Compounds
Toxics 2019, 7(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics7010005 - 24 Jan 2019
Cited by 31
Abstract
Endocrine Disruptor Compounds (EDCs) are synthetic or natural molecules in the environment that promote adverse modifications of endogenous hormone regulation in humans and/or in wildlife animals. In the present paper, we review the potential mechanisms of EDCs and point out the similarities and [...] Read more.
Endocrine Disruptor Compounds (EDCs) are synthetic or natural molecules in the environment that promote adverse modifications of endogenous hormone regulation in humans and/or in wildlife animals. In the present paper, we review the potential mechanisms of EDCs and point out the similarities and differences between EDCs and hormones. There was only one mechanism, out of nine identified, in which EDCs acted like hormones (i.e., binding and stimulated hormone receptor activity). In the other eight identified mechanisms of action, EDCs exerted their effects either by affecting endogenous hormone concentration, or its availability, or by modifying hormone receptor turn over. This overview is intended to classify the various EDC mechanisms of action in order to better appreciate when in vitro tests would be valid to assess their risks towards humans and wildlife. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Toxicology)
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