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Environments, Volume 4, Issue 1 (March 2017)

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Editorial

Jump to: Research, Review

Open AccessEditorial Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Environments in 2016
Environments 2017, 4(1), 5; doi:10.3390/environments4010005
Received: 11 January 2017 / Accepted: 11 January 2017 / Published: 11 January 2017
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Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

Open AccessArticle Response of Red-Backed Salamanders (Plethodon Cinereus) to Changes in Hemlock Forest Soil Driven by Invasive Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (Adelges Tsugae)
Environments 2017, 4(1), 8; doi:10.3390/environments4010008
Received: 31 August 2016 / Revised: 30 December 2016 / Accepted: 16 January 2017 / Published: 21 January 2017
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Abstract
Hemlock forests of the northeastern United States are declining due to the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) (Adelges tsugae). Hardwood species replace these forests, which affects soil properties that may influence other communities, such as red-backed salamanders (red-backs) (Plethodon cinereus
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Hemlock forests of the northeastern United States are declining due to the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) (Adelges tsugae). Hardwood species replace these forests, which affects soil properties that may influence other communities, such as red-backed salamanders (red-backs) (Plethodon cinereus). This study examined the effects of HWA invasion on soil properties and how this affects red-backs at the Hemlock Removal Experiment at Harvard Forest, which consists of eight 0.8 ha plots treated with girdling to simulate HWA invasion, logging to simulate common management practices, or hemlock- or hardwood-dominated controls. Coverboard surveys were used to determine the relative abundance of red-backs between plots during June and July 2014 and soil cores were collected from which the bulk density, moisture, pH, temperature, leaf litter, and carbon-nitrogen ratio were measured. Ordination provided a soil quality index based on temperature, pH, and carbon-to-nitrogen ratio, which was significantly different between plot treatments (p < 0.05) and showed a significant negative correlation with the red-back relative abundance (p < 0.05). The findings support the hypothesis that red-backs are affected by soil quality, which is affected by plot treatment and thus HWA invasion. Further studies should explore how salamanders react in the long term towards changing environments and consider the use of red-backs as indicator species. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Combining Ecosystem Services with Cost-Benefit Analysis for Selection of Green and Grey Infrastructure for Flood Protection in a Cultural Setting
Environments 2017, 4(1), 3; doi:10.3390/environments4010003
Received: 4 December 2016 / Revised: 21 December 2016 / Accepted: 23 December 2016 / Published: 28 December 2016
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Abstract
The present paper describes a methodological framework that combines ecosystem services (flood protection, education, art/culture, recreation and tourism) with economic analysis for selection of multifunctional measures for flood resilience. The framework includes active stakeholder participation and it consists of the four main components:
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The present paper describes a methodological framework that combines ecosystem services (flood protection, education, art/culture, recreation and tourism) with economic analysis for selection of multifunctional measures for flood resilience. The framework includes active stakeholder participation and it consists of the four main components: (1) identification and valuation of ecosystem services pertinent to the project site under various mitigation scenarios, including baseline (pre-mitigation conditions); (2) evaluation of most effective flood mitigation measures through hydrodynamic simulations, and evaluation of economic viability using cost-benefit analysis; (3) selection of measures through consideration of ecosystem services, and solicitation of stakeholders’ inputs; (4) development of the conceptual landscape design. Application of the framework was demonstrated in a case study of Ayutthaya Island, Thailand. Results of our research suggest that taking a holistic perspective of ecosystem services and economic assessments, marshalled through active stakeholder participation, has the potential to achieve more ecologically sustainable and socially acceptable solutions for flood protection in areas with cultural heritage. However, there is still a considerable challenge in taking this framework to a full-scale practical implementation, and this mainly relates to the selection of indicators that can enable proper application of ecosystem services. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Decomposition of Leaves, Stems and Roots of Transgenic Aspen with the Xyloglucanase (sp-Xeg) Gene under Laboratory Microcosm Conditions
Environments 2017, 4(1), 4; doi:10.3390/environments4010004
Received: 16 November 2016 / Revised: 29 December 2016 / Accepted: 30 December 2016 / Published: 31 December 2016
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Abstract
The genetic transformation of trees by wood modification genes for the improvement of forest plantations results in shifts in plant litter quality. These alterations in plant chemistry lead to changes in decomposition rates, thus affecting the carbon and nitrogen cycling in ecosystems and
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The genetic transformation of trees by wood modification genes for the improvement of forest plantations results in shifts in plant litter quality. These alterations in plant chemistry lead to changes in decomposition rates, thus affecting the carbon and nitrogen cycling in ecosystems and nutrient availability for plants. To assess the environmental impacts of transgenic trees, we studied the decomposition of plant litter from aspen plants (Populus tremula L.) transformed with the xyloglucanase gene from Penicillium canescens. Mass, carbon and nitrogen losses in the leaves, stems and roots of greenhouse-grown plants were evaluated during incubation in laboratory microcosms. After 12 months of the decomposition experiment, leaves, stems, and roots lost on average 51%, 46%, and 37% of initial mass, respectively. Decomposition of the transgenic stems was not different from wild-type aspen, but we observed significant differences for the leaves (only at the end of the experiment) and the roots (at the early stage). These differences may be related to the nitrogen content and the C/N ratio in the initial samples. Since the litter decomposability determines the availability of nutrients, such alterations should be taken into consideration when cultivating transgenic trees. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Bioremoval of Phenol from Aqueous Solutions Using Native Caribbean Seaweed
Environments 2017, 4(1), 1; doi:10.3390/environments4010001
Received: 8 July 2016 / Revised: 5 December 2016 / Accepted: 7 December 2016 / Published: 22 December 2016
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Abstract
Among several Puerto Rican algae, Sargassum sp. (SG) and Chaetomorpha (CM) showed the highest phenol adsorption capacity from aqueous solutions and were used in optimized adsorption batch experiments at room temperature. The effects of pH, adsorbent dose, phenol concentration, salinity and presence of
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Among several Puerto Rican algae, Sargassum sp. (SG) and Chaetomorpha (CM) showed the highest phenol adsorption capacity from aqueous solutions and were used in optimized adsorption batch experiments at room temperature. The effects of pH, adsorbent dose, phenol concentration, salinity and presence of interfering substances were evaluated. Initial solution pH exhibited a strong effect, mainly on the phenol aqueous chemistry; showing the maximum adsorption at pH 10. Sorption isotherm results were modelled according to the Langmuir, Tempkin and Freundlich equations. Isotherm modelling indicated a maximum adsorption capacity (qmax) of 82.10 and 17.7 mg of phenol per gram of SG and CM, respectively. Salinity and presence of detergent in the matrix solution showed a positive effect on the adsorption, suggesting that adsorption of phenol was mostly driven by polar forces and not by ionic exchange. On the other hand, presence of heavy metals like copper, lead and cobalt had a negative effect on the adsorption. According to these results, the potential formation of hydrogen bonds between the algae and phenol is proposed as the main adsorption mechanism. These results provide further insight into the adsorption mechanism of phenol and their use as inexpensive adsorbents for the treatment of phenol-containing wastewaters. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Highly Sensitive and Selective VOC Sensor Systems Based on Semiconductor Gas Sensors: How to?
Environments 2017, 4(1), 20; doi:10.3390/environments4010020
Received: 31 December 2016 / Revised: 21 February 2017 / Accepted: 24 February 2017 / Published: 1 March 2017
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Abstract
Monitoring of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is of increasing importance in many application fields such as environmental monitoring, indoor air quality, industrial safety, fire detection, and health applications. The challenges in all of these applications are the wide variety and low concentrations of
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Monitoring of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is of increasing importance in many application fields such as environmental monitoring, indoor air quality, industrial safety, fire detection, and health applications. The challenges in all of these applications are the wide variety and low concentrations of target molecules combined with the complex matrix containing many inorganic and organic interferents. This paper will give an overview over the application fields and address the requirements, pitfalls, and possible solutions for using low-cost sensor systems for VOC monitoring. The focus lies on highly sensitive metal oxide semiconductor gas sensors, which show very high sensitivity, but normally lack selectivity required for targeting relevant VOC monitoring applications. In addition to providing an overview of methods to increase the selectivity, especially virtual multisensors achieved with dynamic operation, and boost the sensitivity further via novel pro-concentrator concepts, we will also address the requirement for high-performance gas test systems, advanced solutions for operating and read-out electronic, and, finally, a cost-efficient factory and on-site calibration. The various methods will be primarily discussed in the context of requirements for monitoring of indoor air quality, but can equally be applied for environmental monitoring and other fields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Volatile Organic Compounds in Environment)
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Open AccessArticle Applications of Information and Communication Technology for Improvements of Water and Soil Monitoring and Assessments in Agricultural Areas—A Case Study in the Taoyuan Irrigation District
Environments 2017, 4(1), 6; doi:10.3390/environments4010006
Received: 7 December 2016 / Revised: 9 January 2017 / Accepted: 9 January 2017 / Published: 17 January 2017
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Abstract
In order to guarantee high-quality agricultural products and food safety, efforts must be made to manage and maintain healthy agricultural environments under the myriad of risks that they face. Three central system components of sustainable agricultural management schemes are real-time monitoring, decision-making, and
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In order to guarantee high-quality agricultural products and food safety, efforts must be made to manage and maintain healthy agricultural environments under the myriad of risks that they face. Three central system components of sustainable agricultural management schemes are real-time monitoring, decision-making, and remote access. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) systems are a convenient means of providing both these and other functions, such as wireless sensor networking, mobile phone applications, etc., to agricultural management schemes. ICT systems have significantly improved in recent years and have been widely used in many fields, including environmental monitoring and management. Moreover, ICT could benefit agricultural environment management by providing a platform for collaboration between researchers and stakeholders, thereby improving agricultural practices and environments. This article reviews and discusses the way in which ICT can efficiently improve monitoring systems and risk assessments of agricultural environment monitoring, as well as the technological and methodological improvements of ICT systems. Finally, we develop and apply an ICT system, referred to as the agricultural environment protection system—comprised of a cloud, six E-platforms, three mobile devices, automatic monitoring devices, indigenous wireless sensor nodes, and gateways in agricultural networks—to a case study in the Taoyuan irrigation district, which acts as a pilot area in Taiwan. Through the system, we use all available information from the interdisciplinary structured cloud database to classify the focal area into different agricultural environmental risk zones. We also conducted further analysis based on a hierarchical approach in order to classify the agricultural environments in the study area, to allocate additional sampling with resin packages and mobile devices, as well as to assist decision makers and stakeholders. The main contributions that the system provides include a technical innovation platform (suitable for integrating innovations), economic benefits, and societal benefits. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Photocatalytic Degradation of Toluene, Butyl Acetate and Limonene under UV and Visible Light with Titanium Dioxide-Graphene Oxide as Photocatalyst
Environments 2017, 4(1), 9; doi:10.3390/environments4010009
Received: 21 November 2016 / Revised: 21 December 2016 / Accepted: 13 January 2017 / Published: 25 January 2017
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Abstract
Photocatalysis is a promising technique to reduce volatile organic compounds indoors. Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is a frequently-used UV active photocatalyst. Because of the lack of UV light indoors, TiO2 has to be modified to get its working range shifted into
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Photocatalysis is a promising technique to reduce volatile organic compounds indoors. Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is a frequently-used UV active photocatalyst. Because of the lack of UV light indoors, TiO2 has to be modified to get its working range shifted into the visible light spectrum. In this study, the photocatalytic degradation of toluene, butyl acetate and limonene was investigated under UV LED light and blue LED light in emission test chambers with catalysts either made of pure TiO2 or TiO2 modified with graphene oxide (GO). TiO2 coated with different GO amounts (0.75%–14%) were investigated to find an optimum ratio for the photocatalytic degradation of VOC in real indoor air concentrations. Most experiments were performed at a relative humidity of 0% in 20 L emission test chambers. Experiments at 40% relative humidity were done in a 1 m³ emission test chamber to determine potential byproducts. Degradation under UV LED light could be achieved for all three compounds with almost all tested catalyst samples up to more than 95%. Limonene had the highest degradation of the three selected volatile organic compounds under blue LED light with all investigated catalyst samples. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Volatile Organic Compounds in Environment)
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Open AccessArticle Investigation of Air Quality beside a Municipal Landfill: The Fate of Malodour Compounds as a Model VOC
Environments 2017, 4(1), 7; doi:10.3390/environments4010007
Received: 23 November 2016 / Revised: 10 January 2017 / Accepted: 13 January 2017 / Published: 17 January 2017
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Abstract
This paper presents the results of an investigation on ambient air odour quality in the vicinity of a municipal landfill. The investigations were carried out during the spring–winter and the spring seasons using two types of the electronic nose instrument. The field olfactometers
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This paper presents the results of an investigation on ambient air odour quality in the vicinity of a municipal landfill. The investigations were carried out during the spring–winter and the spring seasons using two types of the electronic nose instrument. The field olfactometers were employed to determine the mean odour concentration, which was from 2.1 to 32.2 ou/m3 depending on the measurement site and season of the year. In the case of the investigation performed with two types of the electronic nose, a classification of the ambient air samples with respect to the collection site was carried out using the k-nearest neighbours (kNN) algorithm supported with the cross-validation method. Correct classification of the ambient air samples collected during the spring–winter season was at the level from 71.9% to 87.5% and from 84.4% to 94.8% for the samples collected during the spring season depending on the electronic nose type utilized in the studies. It was also revealed that the kNN algorithm applied for classification of the samples exhibited better discrimination abilities than the algorithms of the linear discriminant analysis (LDA) and quadratic discriminant function (QDA) type. Performed seasonal investigations proved the ability of the electronic nose to discriminate the ambient air samples differing in odorants’ concentration and collection site. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Volatile Organic Compounds in Environment)
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Open AccessArticle Uncertainty Impact on Water Management Analysis of Open Water Reservoir
Environments 2017, 4(1), 10; doi:10.3390/environments4010010
Received: 29 November 2016 / Revised: 23 January 2017 / Accepted: 26 January 2017 / Published: 4 February 2017
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Abstract
The aim of this paper is to use a methodology to introduce uncertainty of hydrological and operational input data into mathematical models needed for the design and operation of reservoirs. The application of uncertainty to input data is calculated, with the reservoir volume
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The aim of this paper is to use a methodology to introduce uncertainty of hydrological and operational input data into mathematical models needed for the design and operation of reservoirs. The application of uncertainty to input data is calculated, with the reservoir volume being affected by these uncertainties. The values of outflows from the reservoir and hydrological reliability are equally affected. The simulation model of the reservoir behavior was used, which allows to evaluate the results of solutions and helps to reduce, for example, the cost of dam construction, the risk of poor design of reservoir volumes, future operational risk of failures and reduce water shortages during the operation of water reservoirs. The practical application is carried out on the water management analysis of a reservoir in the Czech Republic. It was found that uncertainty of storage volume with 100% reliability achieved ±4% to ±6% values and the subsequent reliability uncertainty is in the value interval of ±0.2% to ±0.3%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Data-Modelling Applications in Water System Management)
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Open AccessArticle Model to Evaluate Pro-Environmental Consumer Practices
Environments 2017, 4(1), 11; doi:10.3390/environments4010011
Received: 30 December 2016 / Revised: 31 January 2017 / Accepted: 1 February 2017 / Published: 6 February 2017
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Abstract
The consumer plays a key role in resource conservation; therefore, it is important to know consumer behavior to identify consumer profiles and to promote pro-environmental practices in society that encourage resource conservation and reductions in waste generation. The purpose of this paper is
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The consumer plays a key role in resource conservation; therefore, it is important to know consumer behavior to identify consumer profiles and to promote pro-environmental practices in society that encourage resource conservation and reductions in waste generation. The purpose of this paper is to implement a fuzzy model to evaluate consumer behavior in relation to three pro-environmental practices that can be implemented at the household level, including reductions in resource consumption (reduce), reuse of resources (reuse), and recycling (recycle). To identify socio-demographic profiles that characterize an environmentally responsible consumer, 2831 surveys were applied on a representative sample of consumers residing in a Mexican city. Fuzzy logic and neural networks were applied using a Sugeno-type subtractive clustering to determine each profile. The model input variables were socioeconomic status, age, education level, monthly income, occupation and the type of organizations with which the consumer is affiliated. The output variables were represented by pro-environmental practices. Results show that the consumer practices are performed independently of each other, with the most frequent pro-environmental consumer practices being reduction and reuse. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication Practice-Based Interdisciplinary Approach and Environmental Research
Environments 2017, 4(1), 22; doi:10.3390/environments4010022
Received: 6 October 2016 / Revised: 23 February 2017 / Accepted: 3 March 2017 / Published: 7 March 2017
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Abstract
Interdisciplinary researchers and educators, as community members, creators of knowledge, and environmental activists and practitioners, have a responsibility to build a bridge between community practice, academic scholarship, and professional contributions aimed at establishing environmental sustainability. In this paper, I focus on an undervalued
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Interdisciplinary researchers and educators, as community members, creators of knowledge, and environmental activists and practitioners, have a responsibility to build a bridge between community practice, academic scholarship, and professional contributions aimed at establishing environmental sustainability. In this paper, I focus on an undervalued area of environmental politics, practices, and often unarticulated assumptions which underlie human–environmental relations. This article challenges interdisciplinary studies that are not connected with practice by reconfiguring the meaning of a community-based, interdisciplinary approach. Drawing from works by Foucault, Latour, and Haraway, this paper first shows how to reconfigure the meaning of an interdisciplinary approach. Second, using Bourdieu and Brightman’s ethnographic studies as a framework, the paper situates practice as central to our efforts to deconstruct and replace current interdisciplinary initiatives with a practice-based approach. Through a practice-based interdisciplinary approach (PIA), environmental educators and researchers gain an awareness of and learn to make an investment in sustainable communities. As teams of environmental researchers practising in the local community, they are meaningfully involved with the community, with each other, and with the environment. Full article
Open AccessArticle Distribution of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers in Sewage Sludge, Sediments, and Fish from Latvia
Environments 2017, 4(1), 12; doi:10.3390/environments4010012
Received: 1 December 2016 / Revised: 29 January 2017 / Accepted: 1 February 2017 / Published: 8 February 2017
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Abstract
The polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are bioaccumulative, persistent, and toxic. They have a high risk of emission into the environment via volatile losses and diffuse sources, such as commercial product disposal or the use of sewage sludge. The PBDEs’ congeners were analyzed in
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The polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are bioaccumulative, persistent, and toxic. They have a high risk of emission into the environment via volatile losses and diffuse sources, such as commercial product disposal or the use of sewage sludge. The PBDEs’ congeners were analyzed in municipal waste water treatment plant (WWTP) sludge, river and lake water, sediment, and fish samples, to investigate the concentrations in urban and natural locations. The sum of eight PBDE congener (∑8PBDE 28, 47, 99, 100, 153, 154, 183, 209) concentrations in WWTP sludge varied from 78 ng·g−1 DW, to 714 ng·g−1 DW. The BDE 209 constituted up to 93%–98% of ∑8PBDE. In water, the concentrations of all of the measured PBDE congeners were below the limit of detection. Similarly, the concentration of BDE 209 in the sediments was below the limit of detection in all samples. The sum of seven PBDE congener concentrations in the sediments varied from 0.01 to 0.13 ng·g−1 DW. The sum of eight PBDE congener concentrations in fish (European perch) tissues varied from 0.13 to 0.82 ng·g−1 WW. As was recorded for the WWTP sludge, the BDE 209 was the dominant congener, constituting 24%–93% of ∑8PBDE. The sum of seven PBDE congener concentrations, excluding BDE 209, as well as the concentrations of BDE 209 that were measured in WWTP sludge, exhibited a weak negative correlation (Pearson’s r = −0.56, p = 0.1509 and r = −0.48, p = 0.2256, respectively) with the content of dry matter in the sludge. The sum of seven PBDE congener concentrations measured in sediments exhibited a strong negative correlation (Pearson’s r = −0.82, p = 0.0006) with the content of dry matter in the sediments, and a strong positive correlation (Pearson’s r = 0.68, p = 0.0109) with the total carbon content. The obtained results indicated that the fine-grained WWTP sludge particles, with a larger relative surface area, adsorbed BDE 209 the most effectively. This finding was supported by the relatively low environmental concentrations of PBDE congeners, especially BDE 209, which can be explained by the lack of using sewage sludge in agricultural application in Latvia. Furthermore, it seems that, at present, the observed differences in the PBDE congener concentrations in sediments can be attributed to differences in the physical-chemical properties of sediments. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Indoor Air Quality Assessment and Study of Different VOC Contributions within a School in Taranto City, South of Italy
Environments 2017, 4(1), 23; doi:10.3390/environments4010023
Received: 31 December 2016 / Revised: 21 February 2017 / Accepted: 2 March 2017 / Published: 10 March 2017
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Abstract
Children spend a large amount of time in school environments and when Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is poor, comfort, productivity and learning performances may be affected. The aim of the present study is to characterize IAQ in a primary school located in Taranto
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Children spend a large amount of time in school environments and when Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is poor, comfort, productivity and learning performances may be affected. The aim of the present study is to characterize IAQ in a primary school located in Taranto city (south of Italy). Because of the proximity of a large industrial complex to the urban settlement, this district is one of the areas identified as being at high environmental risk in Italy. The study carried out simultaneous monitoring of indoor and outdoor Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) concentrations and assessed different pollutants’ contributions on the IAQ of the investigated site. A screening study of VOC and determination of Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, Xylenes (BTEX), sampled with Radiello® diffusive samplers suitable for thermal desorption, were carried out in three classrooms, in the corridor and in the yard of the school building. Simultaneously, Total VOC (TVOC) concentration was measured by means of real-time monitoring, in order to study the activation of sources during the monitored days. The analysis results showed a prevalent indoor contribution for all VOC except for BTEX which presented similar concentrations in indoor and outdoor air. Among the determined VOC, Terpenes and 2-butohxyethanol were shown to be an indoor source, the latter being the indoor pollutant with the highest concentration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Volatile Organic Compounds in Environment)
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Open AccessArticle Living with the Risks of Cyclone Disasters in the South-Western Coastal Region of Bangladesh
Environments 2017, 4(1), 13; doi:10.3390/environments4010013
Received: 9 December 2016 / Revised: 27 January 2017 / Accepted: 4 February 2017 / Published: 9 February 2017
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Abstract
Bangladesh is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world. Cyclone disasters that affect millions of people, destroy homesteads and livelihoods, and trigger migration are common in the coastal region of Bangladesh. The aim of this article is to understand how
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Bangladesh is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world. Cyclone disasters that affect millions of people, destroy homesteads and livelihoods, and trigger migration are common in the coastal region of Bangladesh. The aim of this article is to understand how the coastal communities in Bangladesh deal with the continuous threats of cyclones. As a case study, this study investigates communities that were affected by the Cyclone Sidr in 2007 and Cyclone Aila in 2009, covering 1555 households from 45 coastal villages in the southwestern region of Bangladesh. The survey method incorporated household based questionnaire techniques and community based focus group discussions. The pre-event situation highlights that the affected communities were physically vulnerable due to the strategic locations of the cyclone shelters nearer to those with social supreme status and the location of their houses in relatively low-lying lands. The victims were also socio-economically vulnerable considering the high rate of illiteracy, larger family size, no ownership of land, and extreme poverty. They were mostly day labourers, farmers, and fishermen. Post-event situation reveals that the victims’ houses and livelihoods were severely damaged or destroyed. Most victims were forced to shift their occupations (e.g., from farmers to fishermen), and many became unemployed. They also became heavily dependent on micro-credits and other forms of loans. A significant number of people were displaced and migrated to large urban agglomerations in search of livelihoods to maintain their families back in the affected villages. Migration was primarily undertaken as an adaptation strategy. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Influence of the Ratio of Nitrate to Ammonium Nitrogen on Nitrogen Removal in the Economical Growth of Vegetation in Hybrid Constructed Wetlands
Environments 2017, 4(1), 24; doi:10.3390/environments4010024
Received: 14 December 2016 / Revised: 8 March 2017 / Accepted: 15 March 2017 / Published: 17 March 2017
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Abstract
Growing vegetables economically in the use of constructed wetland for wastewater treatment can play a role in overcoming water and food scarcity. Allium porrum L., Solanum melongena L., Ipomoea aquatica Forsk., and Capsicum annuum L. plants were selected to grow in hybrid constructed
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Growing vegetables economically in the use of constructed wetland for wastewater treatment can play a role in overcoming water and food scarcity. Allium porrum L., Solanum melongena L., Ipomoea aquatica Forsk., and Capsicum annuum L. plants were selected to grow in hybrid constructed wetland (CW) under natural conditions. The impact of the ratio of nitrate to ammonium nitrogen on ammonium and nitrate nitrogen removal and on total nitrogen were studied in wastewater. Constructed wetland planted with Ipomoea aquatica Forsk. and Solanum melongena L. showed higher removal efficiency for ammonium nitrogen under higher ammonium concentration, whereas Allium porrum L.-planted CW showed higher nitrate nitrogen removal when NO3–N concentration was high in wastewater. Capsicum annuum L.-planted CW showed little efficiency for both nitrogen sources compared to other vegetables. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Estimating Ambient Ozone Effect of Kansas Rangeland Burning with Receptor Modeling and Regression Analysis
Environments 2017, 4(1), 14; doi:10.3390/environments4010014
Received: 29 December 2016 / Revised: 25 January 2017 / Accepted: 29 January 2017 / Published: 9 February 2017
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Abstract
Prescribed rangeland burning in April is a long-standing practice in the Flint Hills region of eastern Kansas to maintain the tallgrass prairie ecosystem. The smoke plumes originating from these fires increases ambient PM2.5 concentrations and potentially contributes to ozone (O3)
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Prescribed rangeland burning in April is a long-standing practice in the Flint Hills region of eastern Kansas to maintain the tallgrass prairie ecosystem. The smoke plumes originating from these fires increases ambient PM2.5 concentrations and potentially contributes to ozone (O3) exceedances in downwind communities. Source apportionment research using Unmix modeling has been utilized to estimate contributions of Kansas rangeland burning to ambient PM2.5 concentrations. The objective of this study was to investigate the potential correlations between O3 and various sources of PM2.5 that are derived from receptor modeling, and then to specifically estimate contributions of Kansas rangeland burning to ambient O3 concentrations through regression analysis. Various daily meteorological data were used as predictor variables. Multiple regression models were developed for the eight-hour daily maximum O3 as well as the daily contributions of the five PM2.5 source categories that were derived from receptor modeling. Cross correlation was analyzed among residuals of the meteorological regression models for O3 and the daily contributions of the five PM2.5 source categories in order to identify the potential hidden correlation between O3 and PM2.5. The model including effects of meteorological variables and episodic contributions from fire and industrial emissions can explain up to 78% of O3 variability. For non-rainy days in April, the daily average contribution from prescribed rangeland burning to O3 was 1.8 ppb. On 3% of the days in April, prescribed rangeland burning contributed over 12.7 ppb to O3; and on 7% of the days in April, burning contributed more than 7.2 ppb to O3. When the intensive burning activities occur in days with high O3 background due to high solar radiation or O3 carryover from the previous day, the contributions from these episodic fire emissions could result in O3 exceedances of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). The regression models developed in this study demonstrated that the most valuable predictors for O3 in the Flint Hills region include the O3 level on the previous day, total solar radiation, difference between daily maximum and minimum air temperature, and levels of episodic fire and industrial emissions. The long term goal is to establish an online O3 forecasting tool that can assist regulators and land managers in smoke management during the burning season so that the intensive burning activities can be planned to avoid forecasted high O3 days and thus prevent O3 exceedance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Air Pollution Control)
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Open AccessArticle Water for Energy and Food: A System Modelling Approach for Blue Nile River Basin
Environments 2017, 4(1), 15; doi:10.3390/environments4010015
Received: 5 December 2016 / Revised: 23 January 2017 / Accepted: 29 January 2017 / Published: 9 February 2017
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Abstract
The world is facing a more water constrained future as a result of urbanisation, population growth, industrialisation and the emergence of climate change. This has direct impacts on the resilience and performance of the energy and food industries, as water plays a key
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The world is facing a more water constrained future as a result of urbanisation, population growth, industrialisation and the emergence of climate change. This has direct impacts on the resilience and performance of the energy and food industries, as water plays a key role in electricity generation processes and agriculture production. Water, energy and food dependencies are more evident in transboundary river basins where several countries share the same source of water for irrigation demand and energy production. From the perspective of the upstream users, it would be ideal to store the water for hydropower generation and the agriculture sector while protecting the environment, whereas the downstream users need the supply of water for their agricultural growth and municipal requirements. We aim to develop a system thinking study by focusing on the transboundary Blue Nile River basin where the Ethiopian government investment in the Grand Renaissance dam has led to opposition by downstream users due to potential reduction of water resource availability downstream. We propose a system thinking approach for analysing different water management practices that considers all the available resources and the requirements set by all the users. To simulate this interaction, we use system dynamics to model the linkage between food production, water abstraction and energy generation. We link the simulation model to an optimisation engine to achieve effective management of the reservoir’s operation. The study provides a platform to investigate how the reservoir operating policies can improve an understanding of the value of water in its alternative uses, and shows how different optimal reservoir release rules generate different optimal solutions inherently involved in upstream and downstream users’ requirements. The proposed methodology is an attempt to enable Nile riparian countries to make more informed decisions on water resources policy and management. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Negative Reagent Ions for Real Time Detection Using SIFT-MS
Environments 2017, 4(1), 16; doi:10.3390/environments4010016
Received: 17 November 2016 / Revised: 29 January 2017 / Accepted: 8 February 2017 / Published: 15 February 2017
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Abstract
Direct analysis techniques have greatly simplified analytical methods used to monitor analytes at trace levels in air samples. One of these methods, Selected Ion Flow Tube-Mass Spectrometry (SIFT-MS), has proven to be particularly effective because of its speed and ease of use. The
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Direct analysis techniques have greatly simplified analytical methods used to monitor analytes at trace levels in air samples. One of these methods, Selected Ion Flow Tube-Mass Spectrometry (SIFT-MS), has proven to be particularly effective because of its speed and ease of use. The range of analytes accessible using the SIFT-MS technique has been extended by this work as it introduces five new negatively charged reagent ions (O, OH, O2, NO2, and NO3) from the same microwave powered ion source of moist air used to generate the reagent ions traditionally used (H3O+, NO+, and O2+). Results are presented using a nitrogen carrier gas showing the linearity with concentration of a number of analytes not readily accessible to positive reagent ions (CO2 from ppbv to 40,000 ppmv, sulfuryl fluoride and HCl). The range of analytes open to the SIFT-MS technique has been extended and selectivity enhanced using negative reagent ions to include CCl3NO2, SO2F2, HCN, CH3Cl, PH3, C2H4Br2, HF, HCl, SO2, SO3, and NO2. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Volatile Organic Compounds in Environment)
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Open AccessArticle Assessing the Climatic Effects on Vegetation Dynamics in the Mekong River Basin
Environments 2017, 4(1), 17; doi:10.3390/environments4010017
Received: 5 January 2017 / Revised: 8 February 2017 / Accepted: 13 February 2017 / Published: 16 February 2017
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Abstract
Understanding long-term vegetation dynamics, their responses to climate, and other driving factors is crucial for integrated basin management in the Mekong River Basin (MRB) in a context of global change. In this study, Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and climate data from 1982
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Understanding long-term vegetation dynamics, their responses to climate, and other driving factors is crucial for integrated basin management in the Mekong River Basin (MRB) in a context of global change. In this study, Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and climate data from 1982 to 2013 were collected from Global Inventory Modeling and Mapping Studies (GIMMS) and Climate Research Unit Time Series Version 3.23 (CRU-TS 3.23). The long-term monthly average, Mann–Kendall trend (M–K) test, Sen’s slope, the coefficient of variation, correlation analysis, and the Partial Least Square Regression (PLSR) model with the Variable Importance in Projection (VIP) were applied in this study. The results showed an increasing temporal trend in NDVI and climate variables, especially temperature, in all vegetation types. There is a significantly increasing NDVI trend with relatively stable NDVI fluctuation across the majority of the MRB except in part of the Tibetan plateau in China. There is a positive spatial correlation between NDVI and air temperature, precipitation and PET (potential evapotranspiration) in the upper part of the basin. Air temperature is an important explanatory factor for all vegetation types, especially in forest ecosystems and croplands, while the role of precipitation and PET vary depending on vegetation type. In addition to physical aspects of the MRB, such as runoff, we conclude that the vegetation dynamics related to climate variables in the MRB should be considered in policies as the framework for ecological and environmental management plans of the MRB. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impacts of Agricultural Land Use Changes on Environments)
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Open AccessArticle Sonication Effects on Atrazine Dissipation in Vadose Zone Sediment Slurries
Environments 2017, 4(1), 18; doi:10.3390/environments4010018
Received: 28 November 2016 / Revised: 3 February 2017 / Accepted: 14 February 2017 / Published: 19 February 2017
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Abstract
Herbicide atrazine easily leaches to groundwater, where it is persistent. We studied whether sonication accelerates atrazine dissipation (100 mg·L−1) in vadose zone sediment slurries. Sediments were from 11.3 to 14.6 m depths in an atrazine-contaminated groundwater area. The slurries and autoclave-sterilized
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Herbicide atrazine easily leaches to groundwater, where it is persistent. We studied whether sonication accelerates atrazine dissipation (100 mg·L−1) in vadose zone sediment slurries. Sediments were from 11.3 to 14.6 m depths in an atrazine-contaminated groundwater area. The slurries and autoclave-sterilized slurries were sonicated (bath, 43 kHz, 320 W) for 0, 5, 10, 20, or 30 min once/twice a day, and atrazine concentrations were followed. Atrazine concentrations raised in the sterilized slurries sonicated twice a day for 10 min (86.0 ± 7.7 mg·L−1), while they remained low in the slurries (56.6 ± 10.9 mg·L−1) due to microbial degradation. Twice a day sonications for 20–30 min did not enhance microbial atrazine degradation. Chemical dissipation may have occurred in the sterilized slurries sonicated twice a day for 30 min. However, sonication did not decrease atrazine concentrations below those in the non-sonicated slurries (55.1 ± 7.8 mg·L−1) and sterilized slurries (67.1 ± 7.9 mg·L−1). Atrazine concentrations in the sterilized slurries were higher than in the slurries, indicating changes in sediment structure and adsorption due to autoclaving. Sonication parameters needed for releasing atrazine from interactions with particles may be close to those damaging microbial cells. This suggests difficulties in enhancing microbial atrazine degradation by sonication, though chemical degradation can be enhanced. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication Exposure Assessment Methods in Studies on Waste Management and Health Effects: An Overview
Environments 2017, 4(1), 19; doi:10.3390/environments4010019
Received: 30 January 2017 / Revised: 16 February 2017 / Accepted: 18 February 2017 / Published: 21 February 2017
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Abstract
Concerns and uncertainties persist about potential environmental and health effects associated with exposure to emissions from widely adopted waste management facilities: despite a limited amount of evidence having been found for some exposure-effect associations, most of the available studies were characterized by limitations
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Concerns and uncertainties persist about potential environmental and health effects associated with exposure to emissions from widely adopted waste management facilities: despite a limited amount of evidence having been found for some exposure-effect associations, most of the available studies were characterized by limitations related to poor exposure assessment, which could introduce biases and weaknesses in the interpretation of results. This communication provides a brief overview of the exposure assessment methods used in studies on waste management and health effects: problems, key issues, priorities and challenges are briefly presented and discussed. The main conclusions refer to the need of newly developed and harmonized exposure assessment strategies and techniques, which represent an essential step in the study of waste-disposal facilities’ health impacts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Exposure to Environmental Contaminants)

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Open AccessReview Post Construction Green Infrastructure Performance Monitoring Parameters and Their Functional Components
Environments 2017, 4(1), 2; doi:10.3390/environments4010002
Received: 14 September 2016 / Revised: 18 November 2016 / Accepted: 19 December 2016 / Published: 22 December 2016
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Abstract
Drainage system infrastructures in most urbanized cities have reached or exceeded their design life cycle and are characterized by running with inadequate capacity. These highly degraded infrastructures are already overwhelmed and continued to impose a significant challenge to the quality of water and
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Drainage system infrastructures in most urbanized cities have reached or exceeded their design life cycle and are characterized by running with inadequate capacity. These highly degraded infrastructures are already overwhelmed and continued to impose a significant challenge to the quality of water and ecological systems. With predicted urban growth and climate change the situation is only going to get worse. As a result, municipalities are increasingly considering the concept of retrofitting existing stormwater drainage systems with green infrastructure practices as the first and an important step to reduce stormwater runoff volume and pollutant load inputs into combined sewer systems (CSO) and wastewater facilities. Green infrastructure practices include an open green space that can absorb stormwater runoff, ranging from small-scale naturally existing pocket of lands, right-of-way bioswales, and trees planted along the sidewalk as well as large-scale public parks. Despite the growing municipalities’ interest to retrofit existing stormwater drainage systems with green infrastructure, few studies and relevant information are available on their performance and cost-effectiveness. Therefore, this paper aims to help professionals learn about and become familiar with green infrastructure, decrease implementation barriers, and provide guidance for monitoring green infrastructure using the combination of survey questionnaires, meta-narrative and systematic literature review techniques. Full article
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Open AccessReview Currently Commercially Available Chemical Sensors Employed for Detection of Volatile Organic Compounds in Outdoor and Indoor Air
Environments 2017, 4(1), 21; doi:10.3390/environments4010021
Received: 5 January 2017 / Accepted: 1 March 2017 / Published: 6 March 2017
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Abstract
The paper presents principle of operation and design of the most popular chemical sensors for measurement of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in outdoor and indoor air. It describes the sensors for evaluation of explosion risk including pellistors and IR-absorption sensors as well as
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The paper presents principle of operation and design of the most popular chemical sensors for measurement of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in outdoor and indoor air. It describes the sensors for evaluation of explosion risk including pellistors and IR-absorption sensors as well as the sensors for detection of toxic compounds such as electrochemical (amperometric), photoionization and semiconductor with solid electrolyte ones. Commercially available sensors for detection of VOCs and their metrological parameters—measurement range, limit of detection, measurement resolution, sensitivity and response time—were presented. Moreover, development trends and prospects of improvement of the metrological parameters of these sensors were highlighted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Volatile Organic Compounds in Environment)
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