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Environments, Volume 10, Issue 3 (March 2023) – 22 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): The role of terrestrial carbon resources brought into estuaries after freshwater inflows may be ecologically important but is not well understood. Our study examines the effect of terrestrial dissolved organic matter (tDOM) dietary additions on the growth of juvenile Australian bass (Macquaria novemculeata). Crustaceous zooplankton Artemia franciscana (Artemia) were reared with additions of a tDOM leachate at varying concentrations. Treatment artemia were used as live feed for juvenile bass across 42 days. Juveniles from the 10mg/L tDOM treatment had significantly larger length after 42 days compared to other treatments. Greater fish lengths where tDOM concentrations were highest indicate that tDOM can contribute to growth in juvenile Australian bass. View this paper
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17 pages, 338 KiB  
Article
Effects of Board Independence on Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Financial Consequences: Evidence from South Korea
by Sang Joon Kim, Hohyun Kim and Erdal Atukeren
Environments 2023, 10(3), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030056 - 18 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 4027
Abstract
Because of climate change issues, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have been emerging as an important research topic in recent years. This study examines the role of corporate governance in reducing GHG emissions by focusing on board independence. We use the industry fixed effect [...] Read more.
Because of climate change issues, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have been emerging as an important research topic in recent years. This study examines the role of corporate governance in reducing GHG emissions by focusing on board independence. We use the industry fixed effect panel regression model to analyze data from 156 listed South Korean firms during the period from 2011 to 2019. Our results suggest that board independence is related positively with the reduction in GHG emissions. In addition, our evidence shows that firms with higher levels of GHG emissions have better financial performance, but board independence weakens the relation. Our findings imply that an independent board tends to focus on balancing the firm’s financial versus environmental performance. This quantitative study contributes to our understanding of the effects of corporate effects on firms’ GHG emissions and their financial consequences. The findings have implications for corporate managers and policymakers with respect to choosing corporate governance structures that reduce GHG emissions effectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Net-Zero Principles and Practices)
19 pages, 4918 KiB  
Article
Modeling and Optimization of Hexavalent Chromium Adsorption by Activated Eucalyptus Biochar Using Response Surface Methodology and Adaptive Neuro-Fuzzy Inference System
by Adeyinka Sikiru Yusuff, Niyi Babatunde Ishola, Afeez Olayinka Gbadamosi and Emmanuel I. Epelle
Environments 2023, 10(3), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030055 - 17 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2259
Abstract
Due to its excellent textural features, non-toxicity, low cost and high uptake capacity, biochar has been synthesized from various biomasses and utilized as a biosorbent to remove hexavalent chromium (Cr6+) from contaminated water. Herein, activated eucalyptus biochar (AEB) was prepared via [...] Read more.
Due to its excellent textural features, non-toxicity, low cost and high uptake capacity, biochar has been synthesized from various biomasses and utilized as a biosorbent to remove hexavalent chromium (Cr6+) from contaminated water. Herein, activated eucalyptus biochar (AEB) was prepared via a pyrolysis-chemical activation process and then used as a less expensive biosorbent to adsorb Cr6+ ions from an aqueous solution. Proximate, ultimate, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and Brunauer–Emmett–Teller (BET) analyses were employed in appraising the biosorbent characteristics. Furthermore, response surface methodology (RSM) and adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference system (ANFIS) were applied to establish the best operating conditions. Based on the results obtained, there was little discrepancy between the observed data and the data predicted by RSM and ANFIS approaches. In terms of prediction accuracy, ANFIS (MAE = 2.512 and R2=0.9200) was superior to RSM (MAE = 2.512 and R2=0.9002). Under best-optimized conditions (initial Cr6+ concentration = 38.14 mg/L, biosorbent dosage = 1.33 g/L and pH = 4.35), which were offered by the ANFIS–ACO technique, the maximum percentage removal of 99.92 ± 0.18% was achieved. The AEB performed exceptionally well due to its better textural characteristics, well-developed porous framework, and dominance of active surface functional groups, which were confirmed by BET, SEM, and FTIR analyses. The comparison of RSM, ACO and GA for process parameter optimization has not been reported in the open literature for Cr6+ adsorption by AEB and hence has been shown in this study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Technologies for Advanced Water Purification II)
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12 pages, 4522 KiB  
Article
Are Nordic Saltmarshes Europe’s Way to ‘Live in Harmony with Nature’? Scientists Driven Future Scenarios via a Participatory Workshop
by Emily Cowan, Rachel Tiller and Gary Banta
Environments 2023, 10(3), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030054 - 15 Mar 2023
Viewed by 2218
Abstract
Saltmarshes have the ability to not only promote biodiversity, but to put nations on the path towards climate recovery and net-zero emissions through saltmarshes’ capability to take up carbon. As the European Union’s (EU) Green Deal sets out to reach net-zero emissions by [...] Read more.
Saltmarshes have the ability to not only promote biodiversity, but to put nations on the path towards climate recovery and net-zero emissions through saltmarshes’ capability to take up carbon. As the European Union’s (EU) Green Deal sets out to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, innovative solutions will need to be identified, possibly even through better preserving century-old habitats such as saltmarshes. Based on the upcoming needs from the EU, in the Spring of 2021, a workshop was held with leading Nordic saltmarsh and blue carbon scientists using the transdisciplinary methods of Systems Thinking and Bayesian Belief Networks to identify solutions that can include saltmarshes in future policy. These joint methods elicited multiple future scenarios in which data were collected on perceived notions of the value of saltmarshes and how to better govern them to ensure their longevity. The models developed in this study include human perceptions and comprehensive quantitative scenarios through their ability to define paths forward in the form of comprehensive policy recommendations. We found through scenario analysis that a major belief among the stakeholders was numerous events of change such as ‘outreach, getting salt marshes on the political agenda and forming new narratives would help to increase saltmarsh area via conservation and restoration prioritization’ would have a positive impact of saltmarshes in Nordic countries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Net-Zero Principles and Practices)
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20 pages, 1730 KiB  
Article
Environmental and Health Risk Assessment of Soil Adjacent to a Self-Burning Waste Pile from an Abandoned Coal Mine in Northern Portugal
by Patrícia Santos, Joana Ribeiro, Jorge Espinha Marques and Deolinda Flores
Environments 2023, 10(3), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030053 - 13 Mar 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2509
Abstract
Abandoned mines and disposal of mining residues can be responsible for the release of potentially toxic elements (PTEs) into the environment causing soil and water contamination, with potential ecological damage and human health hazards. The quantification of the apportionment of PTEs in soils [...] Read more.
Abandoned mines and disposal of mining residues can be responsible for the release of potentially toxic elements (PTEs) into the environment causing soil and water contamination, with potential ecological damage and human health hazards. The quantification of the apportionment of PTEs in soils and the study of the associated ecological and human health risks are essential. This study aims to assess the environmental and human health risk of the soils surrounding an abandoned coal mine in São Pedro da Cova, whose waste pile has been affected by self-combustion for over 17 years. The soil environmental characterization of the study area regarding PTEs was accessed by different pollution indices, considering the elementary crustal abundance and the determined regional soil geochemical background. The soil contamination degree was evaluated using indices such as the contamination factor (Cf) and geoaccumulation index (Igeo), inferred for all soil samples, and the potential ecological risk index (PERI) was also accessed. The human health risk was evaluated for adults and children, considering the non-carcinogenic and carcinogenic risks. The pollution indices calculated for the PTEs using distinct reference values showed significant differences, resulting in lower pollution indices when using the regional reference values. The regional background proved to be a much more reliable geochemical baseline for environmental assessment. Regarding Igeo, the soils were found to be unpolluted to moderately polluted for most of the studied PTEs. The determined PERI for the soils surrounding the abandoned mine classifies them as low ecological risk. The evaluation of the non-carcinogenic and carcinogenic risks, resulting from exposure to the studied soils, suggests that there is no potential human health risk for children or adults regarding the considered PTEs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impact Assessment II)
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14 pages, 2601 KiB  
Article
Surface-Modified Activated Carbon Fibers by a Facile Microwave Technique for Enhancing Hydrocarbon Adsorption
by Jin-Young Lee and Byung-Joo Kim
Environments 2023, 10(3), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030052 - 13 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2578
Abstract
Evaporative emissions from automobiles, which mainly consist of hydrocarbons, are a major source of air pollutants. As such, prevention means are required to minimize such emissions. Evaporative emissions are collected using adsorbents, where the adsorption capacity is directly influenced by the ratio of [...] Read more.
Evaporative emissions from automobiles, which mainly consist of hydrocarbons, are a major source of air pollutants. As such, prevention means are required to minimize such emissions. Evaporative emissions are collected using adsorbents, where the adsorption capacity is directly influenced by the ratio of oxygen-containing functional groups, which have high polarity. This study investigated the effect of controlling the oxygen functional group (OFG) on the hydrocarbon adsorption/desorption performance of activated carbon fiber (ACF) in adsorbents. We used microwave heating to remove OFG on the ACF surfaces. The removal of surface OFG by microwave heating was analyzed using scanning electron microscopy-energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscope (SEM-EDS), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), thermogravimetric–infrared gas analysis (TGA-IR), and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). According to microwave heating, textural properties were analyzed using N2/77K adsorption/desorption isotherms. The hydrocarbon adsorption/desorption performance of the ACF was evaluated according to a modified ASTM D5228. Compared to the untreated ACF, the butane working capacity of the modified (non-polarized) ACF was increased by up to 20% (adsorption capacity 27%). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Deployment of Green Technologies for Sustainable Environment II)
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18 pages, 5074 KiB  
Article
A New Framework for Circular Refurbishment of Buildings to Operationalize Circular Economy Policies
by Joana Fernandes and Paulo Ferrão
Environments 2023, 10(3), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030051 - 12 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3440
Abstract
The current policies aimed at promoting the decarbonization of existing buildings under the principles of the circular economy are in need of practical measures tailored to local conditions to increase their effectiveness. The lack of standard practices for assessing buildings’ refurbishment strategies toward [...] Read more.
The current policies aimed at promoting the decarbonization of existing buildings under the principles of the circular economy are in need of practical measures tailored to local conditions to increase their effectiveness. The lack of standard practices for assessing buildings’ refurbishment strategies toward energy efficiency and CE principles reflects this reality. To tackle this issue, a new framework for refurbishing circular buildings, is proposed in this paper, based on circular procurement and incorporating a lifecycle perspective. This framework articulates a dialogue between local authorities and private stakeholders through a set of steps that encompass building mapping, selective disassembly, (re)design, and (re)build practices, providing opportunities to implement policy-based incentives. The application of the framework within the Portuguese context demonstrates the potential to identify critical moments within the refurbishment process that can materialize in a new set of CE policy actions to be implemented at the building level. These policies are aligned with local construction permitting procedures and take advantage of the resources and incentives offered by the local administration, such as tax incentives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Metabolism)
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13 pages, 2238 KiB  
Article
Terrestrial Carbon Additions to Zooplankton Prey Influence Juvenile Estuarine Fish Growth
by Ellery B. Johnson, Craig Boys, James Hitchcock, Wade Hadwen, Stewart Fielder, Jordan A. Facey and Simon M. Mitrovic
Environments 2023, 10(3), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030050 - 08 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2180
Abstract
Freshwater inflows are linked to the abundance and catch rates of fish in estuaries. The role of terrestrial carbon resources brought into estuaries after inflows may be important, but this is currently not well understood. Therefore, we performed a study examining the effect [...] Read more.
Freshwater inflows are linked to the abundance and catch rates of fish in estuaries. The role of terrestrial carbon resources brought into estuaries after inflows may be important, but this is currently not well understood. Therefore, we performed a study examining the effect of terrestrial dissolved organic matter (tDOM) dietary additions on the growth of food-limited juvenile Australian bass (Macquaria novemculeata). Crustaceous zooplankton Artemia franciscana (Artemia) were reared for two days under control conditions (no addition) or with additions of tDOM leachate at dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations of 5 mg/L or 10 mg/L. Artemia were fed to juvenile bass in their treatment tanks over 42 days at feeding rates reduced by 65–75% of ad libitum. Juvenile fish from the 5 mg/L treatment exhibited no statistical difference in weight or standard, fork and total lengths compared to the control treatment. In contrast, the fish in the 10 mg/L tDOM treatment had significant increases (p < 0.05) in all length parameters after 42 days compared to the other treatments. The greater lengths of fish where tDOM is available indicate that tDOM can contribute to improved growth and development in juvenile Australian bass. While stable isotope analysis of fish tissue showed only minor changes toward terrestrial carbon signatures, increased terrestrial resource availability in the juvenile fish diets may have subsidised energetic needs, facilitating the greater utilisation of endogenous resources. Overall, the results indicate that freshwater inflows that deliver terrestrial resources may be important for the growth and development of estuarine fish. Full article
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12 pages, 1547 KiB  
Article
Emission of Terpenoid Compounds from Rice Plants
by Akira Tani, Takuya Sakami, Mariko Yoshida, Seiichiro Yonemura and Keisuke Ono
Environments 2023, 10(3), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030049 - 08 Mar 2023
Viewed by 2038
Abstract
The global cultivation area of rice is equivalent to 4% of the world’s forest area and may be an important sink and source of trace gases. To produce a precise terpenoid emission inventory, it is essential to obtain reliable data of terpenoid emission [...] Read more.
The global cultivation area of rice is equivalent to 4% of the world’s forest area and may be an important sink and source of trace gases. To produce a precise terpenoid emission inventory, it is essential to obtain reliable data of terpenoid emission from rice plants. In the present study, terpenoid emissions from various rice species were measured using flow-through chamber and tower flux measurement methods. In the flow-through chamber measurement, linalool was emitted from the above-ground parts of the three rice cultivars “Koshihikari”, “Nipponbare” and “IR72”. The emission rates gradually decreased (<0.1 µg gDW−1 h−1) within two days during the measurement periods. As the touching stimulus might have enhanced linalool emission, a non-contact measurement method, i.e., the tower flux measurement method, was applied to a “Koshihikari” paddy. Linalool was not detected, but α-pinene was detected in the atmosphere above the rice paddy. The α-pinene flux (mean ± 95% confidence interval) was 0.006 ± 0.004 nmol m−2 s−1 on a land-area basis. The flux was 1/200 of the previously reported monoterpene emission rate of the rice plants measured in a commercial chamber, but was not largely different from three other reports. We provide terpenoid flux data above a rice paddy for the first time, which is more reliable because the tower flux measurement method can avoid stimuli to rice leaves and stems. Although the obtained terpenoid emission rate is very low, the obtained values can contribute to the establishment of a precise BVOC inventory in Asia. Full article
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15 pages, 1635 KiB  
Article
Qualitative and Quantitative Changes in Soil Organic Compounds in Central European Oak Forests with Different Annual Average Precipitation
by István Fekete, Ornella Francioso, Myrna J. Simpson, Paola Gioacchini, Daniela Montecchio, Imre Berki, Norbert Móricz, Katalin Juhos, Áron Béni and Zsolt Kotroczó
Environments 2023, 10(3), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030048 - 07 Mar 2023
Viewed by 2178
Abstract
The various climate scenarios consistently predict warming and drying of forests in Hungary. Soils play a significant role in the long-term sequestration of atmospheric CO2, while in other cases they can also become net carbon emitters. Therefore, it is important to [...] Read more.
The various climate scenarios consistently predict warming and drying of forests in Hungary. Soils play a significant role in the long-term sequestration of atmospheric CO2, while in other cases they can also become net carbon emitters. Therefore, it is important to know what can be expected regarding future changes in the carbon storage capacity of soils in forests. We used precipitation gradient studies to solve this problem, using a type of “space–time” substitution. In this research, we primarily examined the quality parameters of soil organic matter (SOM) to investigate how climate change transforms the ratio of the main SOM compound groups in soils. For our studies, we applied elemental and 13C and 15N isotopic ratio analysis, NMR analysis, FT-IR spectra analysis, thermogravimetric and differential thermal analyses to measure SOM chemistry in samples from different oak forests with contrasting mean annual precipitation from Central Europe. Our results showed that soil organic carbon (SOC) was lower in soils of humid forests due to the enhanced decomposition processes and the leaching of Ca, which stabilizes SOM; however, in particular, the amount of easily degradable SOM compounds (e.g., thermolabile SOM, O-alkyl carbon, carboxylic and carbonyl carbon) decreased. In dry forest soils, the amount of recalcitrant SOM (e.g., thermostable SOM, alkyl carbon, aromatic and phenolic carbon and organo–mineral complexes stabilized by Ca increased, but the amount of easily degradable SOM increased further. The main conclusion of our study is that SOC can increase in forests that become drier, compensating somewhat for the decrease in forest plant biomass. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Net-Zero Principles and Practices)
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12 pages, 2298 KiB  
Article
Properties and Uses of Biochars Incorporated into Mortars
by Roberta Mota-Panizio, Luís Carmo-Calado, Ana Carolina Assis, Vitor Matos, Manuel Jesus Hermoso-Orzáez, Pedro Romano, Margarida Gonçalves and Paulo Brito
Environments 2023, 10(3), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030047 - 07 Mar 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2405
Abstract
The construction industry is responsible for a large amount of CO2 emissions and an intensive energy consumption. Cement production is the third largest source of anthropogenic CO2 emissions and is responsible for about 1.8 Gt of CO2 emissions into the [...] Read more.
The construction industry is responsible for a large amount of CO2 emissions and an intensive energy consumption. Cement production is the third largest source of anthropogenic CO2 emissions and is responsible for about 1.8 Gt of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The use of waste materials to replace a fraction of cement in the mortar makes it more economically and ecologically friendly. In this work, the main objective was to test incorporations of biochar produced at temperatures of 300, 350, and 400 °C, as a partial replacement for cement in the production of mortar. The materials used for the tests were residual lignocellulosic biomass (WBL) and electrical cable insulation waste (WIEC) mixed in a ratio of 1:1. The biochars produced were crushed and sieved after production to reduce the particles. A sample of biochar was used and tested under these conditions and another sample was washed in water and dried before being incorporated; all tests were carried out with a 5% replacement. Waste recovery tests were also carried out without thermochemical treatment. The specimens were studied for compressive strength and water absorption by immersion. All tests were replicated and were analyzed and compared with a control mixture with no incorporation of biochar in the mixture. It was possible to observe that the tests with the incorporation of biochars at 400 °C showed better results, with only a 24% reduction in resistance to compression. Full article
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38 pages, 7113 KiB  
Review
Pathways for the Valorization of Animal and Human Waste to Biofuels, Sustainable Materials, and Value-Added Chemicals
by Jude A. Okolie, Toheeb Jimoh, Olugbenga Akande, Patrick U. Okoye, Chukwuma C. Ogbaga, Adekunle A. Adeleke, Peter P. Ikubanni, Fatih Güleç and Andrew Nosakhare Amenaghawon
Environments 2023, 10(3), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030046 - 06 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 5291
Abstract
Human and animal waste, including waste products originating from human or animal digestive systems, such as urine, feces, and animal manure, have constituted a nuisance to the environment. Inappropriate disposal and poor sanitation of human and animal waste often cause negative impacts on [...] Read more.
Human and animal waste, including waste products originating from human or animal digestive systems, such as urine, feces, and animal manure, have constituted a nuisance to the environment. Inappropriate disposal and poor sanitation of human and animal waste often cause negative impacts on human health through contamination of the terrestrial environment, soil, and water bodies. Therefore, it is necessary to convert these wastes into useful resources to mitigate their adverse environmental effect. The present study provides an overview and research progress of different thermochemical and biological conversion pathways for the transformation of human- and animal-derived waste into valuable resources. The physicochemical properties of human and animal waste are meticulously discussed, as well as nutrient recovery strategies. In addition, a bibliometric analysis is provided to identify the trends in research and knowledge gaps. The results reveal that the USA, China, and England are the dominant countries in the research areas related to resource recovery from human or animal waste. In addition, researchers from the University of Illinois, the University of California Davis, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Zhejiang University are front runners in research related to these areas. Future research could be extended to the development of technologies for on-site recovery of resources, exploring integrated resource recovery pathways, and exploring different safe waste processing methods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Sustainable Environmental Technologies)
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19 pages, 3659 KiB  
Article
The Contribution of the Hulene-B Waste Dump (Maputo, Mozambique) to the Contamination of Rhizosphere Soils, Edible Plants, Stream Waters, and Groundwaters
by Bernardino Bernardo, Carla Candeias and Fernando Rocha
Environments 2023, 10(3), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030045 - 06 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2948
Abstract
The contamination of ecosystems in areas around waste dumps is a major threat to the health of surrounding populations. The aim of this study is to understand the contribution of the Hulene-B waste dump (Maputo, Mozambique) to the contamination of edible plants, rhizosphere [...] Read more.
The contamination of ecosystems in areas around waste dumps is a major threat to the health of surrounding populations. The aim of this study is to understand the contribution of the Hulene-B waste dump (Maputo, Mozambique) to the contamination of edible plants, rhizosphere soils, stream waters, and groundwater, and to assess human health risk. Soil and plant samples were analyzed by XRD and XRF for mineralogical and chemical composition characterization, respectively. Mineral phases identified in rhizosphere soil samples were ranked, calcite (CaCO3) > quartz (SiO2) > phyllosilicates (micas and kaolinite) > anhydrite (CaSO4) > K feldspar (KAlSi3O8) > opal (SiO2·nH2O) > gypsum (CaSO4·2H2O), suggesting potential toxic elements low mobility. Soil environmental indices showed pollution by Pb > Cu > Zn > Zr. The chemical composition of edible plants revealed contamination by Ni, Cr, Mn, Fe, Ti, and Zr. Groundwaters and stream waters showed a potential health risk by Hg and, in one irrigation water sample, by Pb content. The health hazard index of rhizosphere soils was higher by ingestion, with children being the ones more exposed. Results suggested a combined health risk by exposure to edible plants, rhizosphere soils, stream waters, and groundwaters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impact Assessment II)
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21 pages, 895 KiB  
Review
Electrical and Electronic Waste Management Problems in Africa: Deficits and Solution Approach
by Gilbert Moyen Massa and Vasiliki-Maria Archodoulaki
Environments 2023, 10(3), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030044 - 05 Mar 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 6293
Abstract
The lack of proper waste management in developing countries results in environmental pollution and human illness. This review presents the available data on the electronic and electrical waste generated and/or transported in Africa. Particular attention is given to waste treatment and the recycling [...] Read more.
The lack of proper waste management in developing countries results in environmental pollution and human illness. This review presents the available data on the electronic and electrical waste generated and/or transported in Africa. Particular attention is given to waste treatment and the recycling sector, as well as methods for recovering metals from e-waste. The roles and responsibilities of stakeholders and institutions involved in Africa are discussed. Design for Environment guidelines and Sustainable Product Design Concepts are illustrated to find proper strategies for managing e-waste in general, and for Africa in particular. Raising awareness among national and international institutions is necessary to improve e-scraps management in Africa. Measures should be taken to facilitate the transition of e-waste management from the informal to the formal sector, which will create decent jobs and corresponding incomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impact Assessment II)
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15 pages, 2424 KiB  
Article
Legacy Phosphorus in Sediments of Lowland Waterways
by Stefan Koch, Ellen Iva Rosewig and Bernd Lennartz
Environments 2023, 10(3), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030043 - 27 Feb 2023
Viewed by 2338
Abstract
Riverbed sediments in agricultural landscapes are loaded with phosphorus (P). They may act as a source or sink for riverine P, possibly causing harmful algae blooms and eutrophication in streams and receiving water bodies, including coastal waters. In this study, we aimed at [...] Read more.
Riverbed sediments in agricultural landscapes are loaded with phosphorus (P). They may act as a source or sink for riverine P, possibly causing harmful algae blooms and eutrophication in streams and receiving water bodies, including coastal waters. In this study, we aimed at identifying the labile, moderately labile, and stable P fraction (Hedley fractionation) in sediments of a northeastern German river basin (3000 km2). A non-metrical multidimensional scaling (NMDS) was used to identify the most significant environmental predictors of the P fractionation in sediments. The total P contents of the sediments varied over a wide range (698 ± 701 mg P kg−1 sediment−1), spanning from 98 to 2648 mg P kg−1 sediment−1. Adjacent agricultural reference soils had markedly lower total P contents of 354 ± 132 mg P kg−1 soil−1, ranging from 146 to 483 P kg−1 soil−1. There were almost no differences between the P contents of the top (0–2 cm) and the bottom (2–10 cm) layer. The dominant P fractions were the moderately labile (NaOH-P) and the stable (H2SO4-P) fractions, which accounted for more than 50% of the total P at each sampling point. The NMDS revealed that iron and aluminum contents, as well as land use, are significant predictors for the P fractionation of the sediment. The sediment P-composition reflects the P-status of the agriculturally used mineral soils. However, the size of the contributing catchment as well as the length of the water way have no effects on sediment P. In conclusion, sediment P stocks, though variable, may impede the good ecological status of river waters for decades, especially in lowland basins where hydraulic conditions and a very low stream velocity often create low redox and P dissolution conditions in sediments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Potentially Toxic Elements in Sediments of Protected Areas)
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15 pages, 2841 KiB  
Article
Environmental and Health Benefits Assessment of Reducing PM2.5 Concentrations in Urban Areas in Developing Countries: Case Study Cartagena de Indias
by José Antonio Álvarez Aldegunde, Edgar Quiñones Bolaños, Adrián Fernández-Sánchez, Manuel Saba and Luis Caraballo
Environments 2023, 10(3), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030042 - 27 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2904
Abstract
High concentrations of particulate matter (PM) could significantly reduce the quality of useful life and human life expectancy. The origin, control, and management of the problem has made great steps in recent decades. However, the problem is still prominent in developing countries. In [...] Read more.
High concentrations of particulate matter (PM) could significantly reduce the quality of useful life and human life expectancy. The origin, control, and management of the problem has made great steps in recent decades. However, the problem is still prominent in developing countries. In fact, often the number and spatial distribution of the air quality monitoring stations does not have an appropriate design, misleading decision makers. In the present research, an innovative assessment is proposed of the environmental, health and economic benefits corresponding to a 20% reduction in the PM2.5 concentration in the urban area of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. Cases of mortality and morbidity attributable to fine particles (PM2.5) were estimated, with particular emphasis on mortality, emergency room visits and hospitalizations from respiratory diseases, in addition to their economic assessment using BenMAP-CE®. The novelty of using BenMAP-CE® in studying respiratory diseases and PM2.5 exposure in developing countries lies in its ability to provide a comprehensive assessment of the health impacts of air pollution in these regions. This approach can aid in the development of evidence-based policy and intervention strategies to mitigate the impact of air pollution on respiratory health. Several concentration-response (C-R) functions were implemented to find PM2.5 attributable mortality cases of ischemic heart and cardiopulmonary disease, lung cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, as well as cases of morbidity episodes related to asthma exacerbation and emergency room/hospitalization care for respiratory disease. A 20% reduction would have avoided 104 cases of premature death among the population older than 30 in Cartagena, and around 65 cases of premature mortality without external causes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Climate Change, Air Pollution, and Human Health)
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11 pages, 1630 KiB  
Article
Ecotoxicity of Single-Use Plastics to Earthworms
by Teresa Rodríguez, Dana Represas and Emilio V. Carral
Environments 2023, 10(3), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030041 - 27 Feb 2023
Viewed by 2758
Abstract
The excessive use of plastics in recent years, especially so-called single-use plastics, has led to an incipient increase in the presence of this material in the soil. As soil is the essential production factor in agriculture, this study aims to test the toxicity [...] Read more.
The excessive use of plastics in recent years, especially so-called single-use plastics, has led to an incipient increase in the presence of this material in the soil. As soil is the essential production factor in agriculture, this study aims to test the toxicity to earthworms of different concentrations of plastics using the same substrate for each sample. Earthworms are the main bioindicator of soil quality and are of particular ecological value because their disappearance or loss in population would have disastrous consequences for the environment. This study examines the growth, mortality and reproductive cycle of individual earthworms. The species to be studied is Eisenia fetida and during the test, individuals are immersed in five different concentrations: 1 mg/kg; 10 mg/kg; 100 mg/kg; 1000 mg/kg; and 2000 mg/kg. Bioplastic OK industrial compost (that meet the requirements established to comply with compostability according to EN 13432) was used. Whether the plastic in any of those concentrations is harmful to the worm population was then be checked. The test shows the mixture of PLA and PBAT (biodegradable plastic) studied has no significant effect on the population of Eisenia fetida. None of the variables studied yields significant data on this plastic and the effect it causes on the population of earthworms, Eisenia fetida. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bioplastics in the Environment II)
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22 pages, 4304 KiB  
Review
Review of Techniques for the Removal of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons from Produced Water
by Sadaf Sher, Muhammad Waseem and Megersa Kebede Leta
Environments 2023, 10(3), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030040 - 26 Feb 2023
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 6368
Abstract
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), due to their mutagenic, carcinogenic, and teratogenic potential, can lead to numerous chronic and fatal diseases. PAHs have been found in several wastewater streams, including “produced water,” which is wastewater generated during the extraction of oil and gas. The [...] Read more.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), due to their mutagenic, carcinogenic, and teratogenic potential, can lead to numerous chronic and fatal diseases. PAHs have been found in several wastewater streams, including “produced water,” which is wastewater generated during the extraction of oil and gas. The PAHs’ removal from produced water using physical, chemical, biological, and combined methods is crucial. Water is a vital ecosystem component and is extremely vulnerable to PAHs. This article reviews the current PAH situation, including their physical and chemical properties, types, characteristics, and removal methods from produced water. The mechanism of each method of removal of PAHs has been discussed. The current study results show that adsorption by nanoparticles and integrated methods are promising methods to meet the strict authoritarian limit with advanced increase potential in the direction of commercialization for the removal of PAHs and provide opportunities to use produced water as a source of water. The current study results can help the policy/decision makers in the efficient management of water resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Technologies for Water and Wastewater Treatment)
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24 pages, 3073 KiB  
Review
Linking Artificial Light at Night with Human Health via a Multi-Component Framework: A Systematic Evidence Map
by Yang Liu, Changda Yu, Keli Wang, Mei-Po Kwan and Lap Ah Tse
Environments 2023, 10(3), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030039 - 25 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3644
Abstract
The effects of artificial light at night (ALAN) on human health have drawn increased attention in the last two decades. Numerous studies have discussed the effects of ALAN on human health on diverse topics. A broader scope of how ALAN may affect human [...] Read more.
The effects of artificial light at night (ALAN) on human health have drawn increased attention in the last two decades. Numerous studies have discussed the effects of ALAN on human health on diverse topics. A broader scope of how ALAN may affect human health is thus urgently needed. This paper depicts a systematic evidence map in a multi-component framework to link ALAN with human health through a comprehensive literature review of English research articles in the past two decades. A three-phase systematic review was conducted after a generalized search of relevant articles from three publication databases, namely Scopus, the Web of Science, and PubMed. In total, 552 research articles were found in four categories and on numerous topics within our framework. We cataloged the evidence that shows direct and indirect as well as positive and negative effects of ALAN on human physical and mental health. We also summarized the studies that consider ALAN as a social determinant of human health. Based on our framework and the systematic evidence map, we also suggest several promising directions for future studies, including method design, co-exposure and exposome studies, and social and environmental justice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Sustainable Built Environment)
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13 pages, 1631 KiB  
Article
Impact of Polarization Reversal during Photoelectrocatalytic Treatment of WWTP Effluents
by Maria Cristina Collivignarelli, Marco Carnevale Miino, Francesca Maria Caccamo, Alessandro Abbà, Massimiliano Bestetti and Silvia Franz
Environments 2023, 10(3), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030038 - 25 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1872
Abstract
Photoelectrocatalysis (PEC) has been already proposed as a polishing treatment for wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) effluents. In this work, the impact of polarization reversal during PEC process has been studied and evaluated on the basis of the removal of organic substance and color, [...] Read more.
Photoelectrocatalysis (PEC) has been already proposed as a polishing treatment for wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) effluents. In this work, the impact of polarization reversal during PEC process has been studied and evaluated on the basis of the removal of organic substance and color, biodegradability of the matrix, and inactivation of the catalyst. Effluents were sampled from a full-scale WWTP and alternatively treated by electrochemical oxidation (EC), photolysis (PL), photocatalysis (PC), photoelectrocatalysis, and photoelectrocatalysis with reverse polarization (PECr). The efficiency and the kinetics of the process, in terms of removal of organic substance and color, were not affected by reverse polarization and very similar results were obtained by PEC and PECr. The biodegradability of the effluents strongly increased both by PECr (RSBR: 0.84 ± 0.07), and by PEC and PL (0.89 ± 0.11, and 0.78 ± 0.02, respectively). In the selected polarization reversal mode (100 s at −0.1 V every 500 s at 4 V, cell voltage), a similar photocurrent loss after PEC and PECr was observed, suggesting no effect on the activity of the TiO2 mesh. This study can serve as a base for future research on polarization reversal to optimize operation parameters and exploit the procedure to preventing fouling and inactivation of the catalyst. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Oxidation Applications II)
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13 pages, 4130 KiB  
Review
The Pine-Oak Forest of the Rio Conchos Basin, Mexico: Key to Rain Production and Soil Erosion Control
by Luis U. Castruita-Esparza, Mélida Gutiérrez, Jesús M. Olivas-García and Hector O. Rubio-Arias
Environments 2023, 10(3), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030037 - 24 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2383
Abstract
Under the current climate crisis, the ecological integrity of forest ecosystems is key to increasing resilience and the sustainability of water and soil resources. Most forests around the world have experienced deforestation and degradation in the past few decades; however, the rate at [...] Read more.
Under the current climate crisis, the ecological integrity of forest ecosystems is key to increasing resilience and the sustainability of water and soil resources. Most forests around the world have experienced deforestation and degradation in the past few decades; however, the rate at which these occur varies depending on many factors, including the type of trees, management, and climate. We conducted a review of the deforestation, degradation, and soil erosion of the pine-oak forest within the Rio Conchos basin in northern Mexico. Preference was given to recent studies (last 10 years) conducted within this basin. Out of 27 recent publications on oak forests in Mexico, 19 focused on this forest and half of them were in Spanish. The results show that pine trees are more affected than oak trees, also that the deforestation rate has increased with time and is greater at higher elevations, making this area vulnerable to loss of topsoil during extreme hydrological events. Studies report an annual change in cover rate between 1985 and 2016 of −1.2% for pine, oak and mix vegetation. More recently, between 2000 and 2018, the change in pine cover was calculated as −2.8% concurrent with a +3.4% increase in cover of oak and other secondary vegetation. Proposed conservation strategies vary from runoff control to increased collaboration between landowners, government agencies, and stakeholders. Full article
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19 pages, 4208 KiB  
Article
Public Risk Perception of the Petrochemical Industry, Measured Using a Public Participation Geographic Information System: A Case Study of Camp de Tarragona (Spain)
by Edgar Bustamante Picón, Joan Alberich González, Yolanda Pérez-Albert and Mahdi Gheitasi
Environments 2023, 10(3), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030036 - 24 Feb 2023
Viewed by 2990
Abstract
Following the implementation of the petrochemical industry, the population of Camp de Tarragona began living with a chemical risk, and after two consecutive years of chemical-related accidents with fatalities (in 2019 in the firm Carburos Metálicos, and in 2020 in the firm IQOXE), [...] Read more.
Following the implementation of the petrochemical industry, the population of Camp de Tarragona began living with a chemical risk, and after two consecutive years of chemical-related accidents with fatalities (in 2019 in the firm Carburos Metálicos, and in 2020 in the firm IQOXE), it is necessary to know the population’s perception of this activity. Therefore, this study aims to analyze the population’s risk perception regarding the petrochemical industry, by applying a Public Participation Geographic Information System (PPGIS). To this end, the risk perception data obtained from the PPGIS were correlated with the sociodemographic data from the surveys; an analysis was made of the perceived risks associated with this activity and what its possible effect would be on a territorial level, always from the point of view of the surveyed public. The results showed that the population clearly identifies on the map what the main sources of chemical risk are and which places would be affected by a possible explosion. In addition, it was verified that certain sociodemographic characteristics, such as gender or age, affect people’s perception of the risk, and that the weather conditions and anomalous situations within the industry also influence people’s perception, indicating high values of danger. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impact Assessment II)
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22 pages, 1287 KiB  
Article
Combining Constructed Wetlands and UV Photolysis for the Advanced Removal of Organic Matter, Nitrogen, and Emerging Pollutants from Wastewater
by Marta Sánchez, María Isabel Fernández, Isabel Ruiz, Moisés Canle and Manuel Soto
Environments 2023, 10(3), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10030035 - 23 Feb 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3566
Abstract
This study reports the performance of a three-step lab-scale system including a hybrid digester (HD), a vertical flow (VF) constructed wetland, and a photodegradation (PD) lamp, with two different arrangements regarding the position of the recirculation point. In addition to total suspended solids [...] Read more.
This study reports the performance of a three-step lab-scale system including a hybrid digester (HD), a vertical flow (VF) constructed wetland, and a photodegradation (PD) lamp, with two different arrangements regarding the position of the recirculation point. In addition to total suspended solids (TSS), chemical oxygen demand (COD), and nitrogen compounds, removal of the following pollutants was investigated: paracetamol (ACE), ofloxacin (OFL), caffeine (CAF), ketoprofen (KET), ibuprofen (IBU), clofibric acid (ACB), bisphenol A (BPA), and sotalol (SOT). An excellent performance of HD was achieved on the elimination of TSS (82.2 ± 18.5% on average) and COD (63.9 ± 4.1%). TSS and COD removal increased to 91.2 ± 0.4% and 83.4 ± 2.9%, respectively, for the combined HD–VF system. Ammonia removal was 57.0 ± 7.8% in the VF unit while significant denitrification occurred in the HD. The overall HD–VF–PD system achieved mean removals of 100% for OFL, KET, SOT, and IBU, 98 ± 2% for ACE, 87 ± 8% for CAF, 81 ± 38% for ACB and 26 ± 9% for BPA. The removal of ACE, OFL, CAF, and IBU was mostly by biodegradation in the HD and VF units while the PD unit was responsible for the removal of KET, ACB, and SOT. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Technologies for Water and Wastewater Treatment)
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