Special Issue "Medical Geology: Impacts of the Natural Environment on Public Health"

Quicklinks

A special issue of Geosciences (ISSN 2076-3263).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2014)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Jose A. Centeno

Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories, Division of Biology, Chemistry and Materials Science, US Food and Drug Administration, White Oak Campus, Silver Spring, MD 20993, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +1-301-796-2487
Interests: environmental toxicology; environmental pathology; medical geology; health effects of trace elements; metals and metalloids
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Robert B. Finkelman

Geosciences Department, University of Texas at Dallas, 800 W. Campbell Road, Richardson, TX 75080-3021, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: 1-972-473-7414
Interests: geology; geochemistry; environmental geology
Guest Editor
Dr. Olle Selinus

Linneaus University, Linnegatan 2, Kalmar 39233, Sweden
E-Mail
Phone: +46-70-523-2820
Interests: geology; geochemistry; mineralogy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

All living organisms are composed of major, minor, and trace elements, given by nature and supplied by geology. Medical geology is a rapidly growing discipline dealing with the influence of natural geological and environmental risk factors on the distribution of health problems in humans and animals. As a multi-disciplinary scientific field, medical geology has the potential of helping medical and public health communities all over the world in the pursuit of solutions to a wide range of environmental and naturally induced health issues.

The natural environment can impact health in a variety of ways. The composition of rocks and minerals are imprinted on the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, and the food that we eat. For many people this transference of minerals and the trace elements they contain is beneficial as it is the primary source of nutrients (such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and about a dozen other elements) that are essential for a healthy life. However, sometimes the local geology can cause significant health problems because there is an insufficient amount of an essential element or an excess of a potentially toxic element (such as arsenic, mercury, lead, fluorine, etc.), or a harmful substance such as methane gas, dust-sized particles of asbestos, quartz or pyrite, or certain naturally occurring organic compounds.

Current and future medical geology concerns include: dangerous levels of arsenic in drinking water in dozens of countries including the USA; mercury emissions from coal combustion and its bioaccumulation in the environment; the impacts of mercury and lead mobilizations in regions were artisanal gold mining is conducted; the residual health impacts of geologic processes such as volcanic emissions, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and geogenic dust; exposure to fibrous minerals such as asbestos and erionite; and the health impacts of global climate change. Billions of people, most in developing countries, are afflicted by these and other environmental health issues that can be avoided, prevented, mitigated or minimized through research and educational outreach.

This Special Issue of Geosciences discusses recent advances in medical geology, providing examples from research conducted all over the world. Among the topics to be discussed are:

  • Health effects from trace elements, metals and metalloids
  • Regional and global impacts of natural dust (including the study of nanoparticles)
  • Chemical and environmental pathology of diseases associated with natural environment
  • Novel analytical approaches to the study of natural geochemical and environmental agents
  • Research on beneficial health aspects of natural geological materials
  • Risk management, risk communication and risk mitigation on medical geology
  • Remote sensing and GIS applications on medical geology
  • Epidemiology and public health studies on medical geology
  • Climate change and medical geology
  • Clinical and toxicological research on biomarkers of exposure
  • Veterinary medical geology
  • Biosurveillance and biomonitoring studies on medical geology

Original research on these topics will be welcome for this Special Issue.

Dr. Jose A. Centeno
Guest Editor

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Geosciences is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 300 CHF (Swiss Francs). English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.

Print Edition available!
A Print Edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Hardcover: 43.50 CHF*
Pages: 16, 240
*For contributing authors or bulk orders special prices may apply.
Prices include shipping.

Published Papers (11 papers)

View options order results:
result details:
Displaying articles 1-11
Export citation of selected articles as:

Editorial

Jump to: Research, Review

Open AccessEditorial Medical Geology: Impacts of the Natural Environment on Public Health
Geosciences 2016, 6(1), 8; doi:10.3390/geosciences6010008
Received: 19 January 2016 / Accepted: 27 January 2016 / Published: 1 February 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (148 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract All living organisms are composed of major, minor, and trace elements, given by nature and supplied by geology. Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

Open AccessArticle Impacts of Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) on Environment and Human Health of Gorontalo Utara Regency, Gorontalo Province, Indonesia
Geosciences 2015, 5(2), 160-176; doi:10.3390/geosciences5020160
Received: 29 December 2014 / Revised: 28 March 2015 / Accepted: 8 April 2015 / Published: 16 April 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2640 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Mercury concentrations in the environment (river sediments and fish) and in the hair of artisanal gold miners and inhabitants of the Gorontalo Utara Regency were determined in order to understand the status of contamination, sources and their impacts on human health. Mercury concentrations
[...] Read more.
Mercury concentrations in the environment (river sediments and fish) and in the hair of artisanal gold miners and inhabitants of the Gorontalo Utara Regency were determined in order to understand the status of contamination, sources and their impacts on human health. Mercury concentrations in the sediments along the Wubudu and Anggrek rivers are already above the tolerable level declared safe by the World Health Organization (WHO). Meanwhile, commonly consumed fish, such as snapper, have mercury levels above the threshold limit (0.5 μg/g). The mean mercury concentrations in the hair of a group of inhabitants from Anggrek and Sumalata are higher than those in hair from control group (the inhabitants of Monano, Tolinggula and Kwandang). The mean mercury concentration in the hair of female inhabitants is higher than that in the hair of male inhabitants in each group. Neurological examinations were performed on 44 participants of artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) miners and inhabitants of Anggrek and Sumalata. From the 12 investigated symptoms, four common symptoms were already observed among the participants, namely, bluish gums, Babinski reflex, labial reflex and tremor. Full article
Figures

Open AccessArticle Potential Health Risks from Uranium in Home Well Water: An Investigation by the Apsaalooke (Crow) Tribal Research Group
Geosciences 2015, 5(1), 67-94; doi:10.3390/geosciences5010067
Received: 28 December 2014 / Revised: 9 March 2015 / Accepted: 10 March 2015 / Published: 20 March 2015
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (3955 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Exposure to uranium can damage kidneys, increase long term risks of various cancers, and cause developmental and reproductive effects. Historically, home well water in Montana has not been tested for uranium. Data for the Crow Reservation from the United States Geological Survey (USGS)
[...] Read more.
Exposure to uranium can damage kidneys, increase long term risks of various cancers, and cause developmental and reproductive effects. Historically, home well water in Montana has not been tested for uranium. Data for the Crow Reservation from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) National Uranium Resource Evaluation (NURE) database showed that water from 34 of 189 wells tested had uranium over the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 30 μg/L for drinking water. Therefore the Crow Water Quality Project included uranium in its tests of home well water. Volunteers had their well water tested and completed a survey about their well water use. More than 2/3 of the 97 wells sampled had detectable uranium; 6.3% exceeded the MCL of 30 μg/L. Wells downgradient from the uranium-bearing formations in the mountains were at highest risk. About half of all Crow families rely on home wells; 80% of these families consume their well water. An explanation of test results; associated health risks and water treatment options were provided to participating homeowners. The project is a community-based participatory research initiative of Little Big Horn College; the Crow Tribe; the Apsaalooke Water and Wastewater Authority; the local Indian Health Service Hospital and other local stakeholders; with support from academic partners at Montana State University (MSU) Bozeman. Full article
Figures

Open AccessArticle Exposure to Selected Geogenic Trace Elements (I, Li, and Sr) from Drinking Water in Denmark
Geosciences 2015, 5(1), 45-66; doi:10.3390/geosciences5010045
Received: 29 December 2014 / Revised: 6 February 2015 / Accepted: 16 February 2015 / Published: 27 February 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (4136 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The naturally occurring geogenic elements iodine (I), lithium (Li), and strontium (Sr) have a beneficial effect on human health. Iodine has an essential role in human metabolism while Li and Sr are used, respectively, as a treatment for various mental disorders and for
[...] Read more.
The naturally occurring geogenic elements iodine (I), lithium (Li), and strontium (Sr) have a beneficial effect on human health. Iodine has an essential role in human metabolism while Li and Sr are used, respectively, as a treatment for various mental disorders and for post-menopausal osteoporosis. The aim here is to evaluate the potential for future epidemiological investigations in Denmark of lifelong and chronic exposure to low doses of these compounds. The drinking water data represents approximately 45% of the annual Danish groundwater abstraction for drinking water purposes, which supplies approximately 2.5 million persons. The spatial patterns were studied using inverse distance weighted interpolation and cluster analysis. The exposed population was estimated based on two datasets: (1) population density in the smallest census unit, the parishes, and (2) geocoded addresses where at least one person is residing. We found significant spatial variation in the exposure for all three elements, related mainly to geochemical processes. This suggests a prospective opportunity for future epidemiological investigation of long-term effects of I, Li, and Sr, either alone or in combinations with other geogenic elements such as Ca, Mg or F. Full article
Figures

Open AccessArticle Environmental Risk Assessment Based on High-Resolution Spatial Maps of Potentially Toxic Elements Sampled on Stream Sediments of Santiago, Cape Verde
Geosciences 2014, 4(4), 297-315; doi:10.3390/geosciences4040297
Received: 19 July 2014 / Revised: 2 September 2014 / Accepted: 28 September 2014 / Published: 22 October 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (3906 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Geochemical mapping is the base knowledge to identify the regions of the planet with critical contents of potentially toxic elements from either natural or anthropogenic sources. Sediments, soils and waters are the vehicles which link the inorganic environment to life through the supply
[...] Read more.
Geochemical mapping is the base knowledge to identify the regions of the planet with critical contents of potentially toxic elements from either natural or anthropogenic sources. Sediments, soils and waters are the vehicles which link the inorganic environment to life through the supply of essential macro and micro nutrients. The chemical composition of surface geological materials may cause metabolic changes which may favor the occurrence of endemic diseases in humans. In order to better understand the relationships between environmental geochemistry and public health, we present environmental risk maps of some harmful elements (As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb, V, and Zn) in the stream sediments of Santiago, Cape Verde, identifying the potentially harmful areas in this island. The Estimated Background Values (EBV) of Cd, Co, Cr, Ni and V were found to be above the Canadian guidelines for any type of use of stream sediments and also above the target values of the Dutch and United States guidelines. The Probably Effect Concentrations (PEC), above which harmful effects are likely in sediment dwelling organisms, were found for Cr and Ni. Some associations between the geological formations of the island and the composition of stream sediments were identified and confirmed by descriptive statistics and by Principal Component Analysis (PCA). The EBV spatial distribution of the metals and the results of PCA allowed us to establish relationships between the EBV maps and the geological formations. The first two PCA modes indicate that heavy metals in Santiago stream sediments are mainly originated from weathering of underlying bedrocks. The first metal association (Co, V, Cr, and Mn; first PCA mode) consists of elements enriched in basic rocks and compatible elements. The second association of variables (Zn and Cd as opposed to Ni; second PCA mode) appears to be strongly controlled by the composition of alkaline volcanic rocks and pyroclastic rocks. So, the second PCA mode is also considered as a natural lithogenic mode. The third association (Cu and Pb; third PCA mode) consists of elements of anthropogenic origin. Full article
Open AccessArticle Identifying Sources and Assessing Potential Risk of Exposure to Heavy Metals and Hazardous Materials in Mining Areas: The Case Study of Panasqueira Mine (Central Portugal) as an Example
Geosciences 2014, 4(4), 240-268; doi:10.3390/geosciences4040240
Received: 10 June 2014 / Revised: 15 September 2014 / Accepted: 17 September 2014 / Published: 26 September 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (6189 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Sn-W Panasqueira mine, in activity since the mid-1890s, is one of the most important economic deposits in the world. Arsenopyrite is the main mineral present as well as rejected waste sulphide. The long history is testified by the presence of a huge
[...] Read more.
The Sn-W Panasqueira mine, in activity since the mid-1890s, is one of the most important economic deposits in the world. Arsenopyrite is the main mineral present as well as rejected waste sulphide. The long history is testified by the presence of a huge amount of tailings, which release considerable quantities of heavy metal(loid)s into the environment. This work assesses soil contamination and evaluates the ecological and human health risks due to exposure to hazardous materials. The metal assemblage identified in soil (Ag-As-Bi-Cd-Cu-W-Zn; potentially toxic elements (PTEs)) reflects the influence of the tailings, due to several agents including aerial dispersion. PTEs and pH display a positive correlation confirming that heavy metal mobility is directly related to pH and, therefore, affects their availability. The estimated contamination factor classified 92.6% of soil samples as moderately to ultra-highly polluted. The spatial distribution of the potential ecological risk index classified the topsoil as being of a very high ecological risk, consistent with wind direction. Non-carcinogenic hazard of topsoil, for children (1–6 years), showed that for As the non-carcinogenic hazard represents a high health risk. The carcinogenic risks, both for children and adult alike, reveal a very high cancer risk mostly due to As ingestion. Full article
Open AccessArticle Assessment of Geogenic Contaminants in Water Co-Produced with Coal Seam Gas Extraction in Queensland, Australia: Implications for Human Health Risk
Geosciences 2014, 4(3), 219-239; doi:10.3390/geosciences4030219
Received: 14 July 2014 / Revised: 8 August 2014 / Accepted: 13 August 2014 / Published: 5 September 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (4321 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Organic compounds in Australian coal seam gas produced water (CSG water) are poorly understood despite their environmental contamination potential. In this study, the presence of some organic substances is identified from government-held CSG water-quality data from the Bowen and Surat Basins, Queensland. These
[...] Read more.
Organic compounds in Australian coal seam gas produced water (CSG water) are poorly understood despite their environmental contamination potential. In this study, the presence of some organic substances is identified from government-held CSG water-quality data from the Bowen and Surat Basins, Queensland. These records revealed the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in 27% of samples of CSG water from the Walloon Coal Measures at concentrations <1 µg/L, and it is likely these compounds leached from in situ coals. PAHs identified from wells include naphthalene, phenanthrene, chrysene and dibenz[a,h]anthracene. In addition, the likelihood of coal-derived organic compounds leaching to groundwater is assessed by undertaking toxicity leaching experiments using coal rank and water chemistry as variables. These tests suggest higher molecular weight PAHs (including benzo[a]pyrene) leach from higher rank coals, whereas lower molecular weight PAHs leach at greater concentrations from lower rank coal. Some of the identified organic compounds have carcinogenic or health risk potential, but they are unlikely to be acutely toxic at the observed concentrations which are almost negligible (largely due to the hydrophobicity of such compounds). Hence, this study will be useful to practitioners assessing CSG water related environmental and health risk. Full article
Open AccessArticle Risk Factors for E. coli O157 and Cryptosporidiosis Infection in Individuals in the Karst Valleys of East Tennessee, USA
Geosciences 2014, 4(3), 202-218; doi:10.3390/geosciences4030202
Received: 25 June 2014 / Revised: 14 August 2014 / Accepted: 15 August 2014 / Published: 27 August 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (6554 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This research examines risk factors for sporadic cryptosporidiosis and Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157 infection in East Tennessee, using a case-control approach and spatial logistic regression models. The risk factors examined are animal density, land use, geology, surface water impairment, poverty
[...] Read more.
This research examines risk factors for sporadic cryptosporidiosis and Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157 infection in East Tennessee, using a case-control approach and spatial logistic regression models. The risk factors examined are animal density, land use, geology, surface water impairment, poverty rate and availability of private water supply. Proximity to karst geology, beef cow population density and a high percentage of both developed land and pasture land are positively associated with both diseases. The availability of private water supply is negatively associated with both diseases. Risk maps generated using the model coefficients show areas of elevated risk to identify the communities where background risk is highest, so that limited public health resources can be targeted to the risk factors and communities most at risk. These results can be used as the framework upon which to develop a comprehensive epidemiological study that focuses on risk factors important at the individual level. Full article
Open AccessArticle Anthrax and the Geochemistry of Soils in the Contiguous United States
Geosciences 2014, 4(3), 114-127; doi:10.3390/geosciences4030114
Received: 26 March 2014 / Revised: 15 July 2014 / Accepted: 5 August 2014 / Published: 11 August 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (4391 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Soil geochemical data from sample sites in counties that reported occurrences of anthrax in wildlife and livestock since 2000 were evaluated against counties within the same states (MN, MT, ND, NV, OR, SD and TX) that did not report occurrences. These data identified
[...] Read more.
Soil geochemical data from sample sites in counties that reported occurrences of anthrax in wildlife and livestock since 2000 were evaluated against counties within the same states (MN, MT, ND, NV, OR, SD and TX) that did not report occurrences. These data identified the elements, calcium (Ca), manganese (Mn), phosphorus (P) and strontium (Sr), as having statistically significant differences in concentrations between county type (anthrax occurrence versus no occurrence). Tentative threshold values of the lowest concentrations of each of these elements (Ca = 0.43 wt %, Mn = 142 mg/kg, P = 180 mg/kg and Sr = 51 mg/kg) and average concentrations (Ca = 1.3 wt %, Mn = 463 mg/kg, P = 580 mg/kg and Sr = 170 mg/kg) were identified from anthrax-positive counties as prospective investigative tools in determining whether an outbreak had “potential” or was “likely” at any given geographic location in the contiguous United States. Full article
Figures

Review

Jump to: Editorial, Research

Open AccessReview The Legacy of Uranium Development on or Near Indian Reservations and Health Implications Rekindling Public Awareness
Geosciences 2015, 5(1), 15-29; doi:10.3390/geosciences5010015
Received: 1 January 2015 / Revised: 16 January 2015 / Accepted: 26 January 2015 / Published: 3 February 2015
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2115 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Uranium occurrence and development has left a legacy of long-lived health effects for many Native Americans and Alaska Natives in the United States. Some Native American communities have been impacted by processing and development while others are living with naturally occurring sources of
[...] Read more.
Uranium occurrence and development has left a legacy of long-lived health effects for many Native Americans and Alaska Natives in the United States. Some Native American communities have been impacted by processing and development while others are living with naturally occurring sources of uranium. The uranium production peak spanned from approximately 1948 to the 1980s. Thousands of mines, mainly on the Colorado Plateau, were developed in the western U.S. during the uranium boom. Many of these mines were abandoned and have not been reclaimed. Native Americans in the Colorado Plateau area including the Navajo, Southern Ute, Ute Mountain, Hopi, Zuni, Laguna, Acoma, and several other Pueblo nations, with their intimate knowledge of the land, often led miners to uranium resources during this exploration boom. As a result of the mining activity many Indian Nations residing near areas of mining or milling have had and continue to have their health compromised. This short review aims to rekindle the public awareness of the plight of Native American communities living with the legacy of uranium procurement, including mining, milling, down winders, nuclear weapon development and long term nuclear waste storage. Full article
Figures

Open AccessReview Health Effects Associated with Inhalation of Airborne Arsenic Arising from Mining Operations
Geosciences 2014, 4(3), 128-175; doi:10.3390/geosciences4030128
Received: 30 June 2014 / Revised: 25 July 2014 / Accepted: 29 July 2014 / Published: 13 August 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (2857 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Arsenic in dust and aerosol generated by mining, mineral processing and metallurgical extraction industries, is a serious threat to human populations throughout the world. Major sources of contamination include smelting operations, coal combustion, hard rock mining, as well as their associated waste products,
[...] Read more.
Arsenic in dust and aerosol generated by mining, mineral processing and metallurgical extraction industries, is a serious threat to human populations throughout the world. Major sources of contamination include smelting operations, coal combustion, hard rock mining, as well as their associated waste products, including fly ash, mine wastes and tailings. The number of uncontained arsenic-rich mine waste sites throughout the world is of growing concern, as is the number of people at risk of exposure. Inhalation exposures to arsenic-bearing dusts and aerosol, in both occupational and environmental settings, have been definitively linked to increased systemic uptake, as well as carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic health outcomes. It is therefore becoming increasingly important to identify human populations and sensitive sub-populations at risk of exposure, and to better understand the modes of action for pulmonary arsenic toxicity and carcinogenesis. In this paper we explore the contribution of smelting, coal combustion, hard rock mining and their associated waste products to atmospheric arsenic. We also report on the current understanding of the health effects of inhaled arsenic, citing results from various toxicological, biomedical and epidemiological studies. This review is particularly aimed at those researchers engaged in the distinct, but complementary areas of arsenic research within the multidisciplinary field of medical geology. Full article

Journal Contact

MDPI AG
Geosciences Editorial Office
St. Alban-Anlage 66, 4052 Basel, Switzerland
geosciences@mdpi.com
Tel. +41 61 683 77 34
Fax: +41 61 302 89 18
Editorial Board
Contact Details Submit to Geosciences
Back to Top