Next Issue
Volume 11, June
Previous Issue
Volume 11, April
 
 

Environments, Volume 11, Issue 5 (May 2024) – 18 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Environments (ISSN 2076-3298) is an international and cross-disciplinary scholarly, open access journal focusing on the advances, issues and challenges related to environmental systems. Our aim is to encourage scientists and engineers to publish their experimental, theoretical, novel practical results in a variety of areas that range from environmental conservation, environmental technologies, ecosystem services, risk, policy, governance, monitoring and modelling of environmental systems, stakeholder engagement and decision support.
  • Issues are regarded as officially published after their release is announced to the table of contents alert mailing list.
  • You may sign up for e-mail alerts to receive table of contents of newly released issues.
  • PDF is the official format for papers published in both, html and pdf forms. To view the papers in pdf format, click on the "PDF Full-text" link, and use the free Adobe Reader to open them.
Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:
16 pages, 2953 KiB  
Article
A Microplastic Pollution Hotspot: Elevated Levels in Sediments from the San Francisco Bay Area
by Lara Dronjak, Joaquim Rovira, Diana Lin, June-Soo Park, Sutapa Ghosal, Nora Expósito, Marta Schuhmacher and Jordi Sierra
Environments 2024, 11(5), 103; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050103 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 511
Abstract
San Francisco Bay’s sediment is currently monitored for a variety of contaminants; however, data regarding the microplastics (MPs) in the area are still scarce. MPs’ occurrence in sediment samples has gained recognition as a reservoir for MP accumulation. Moreover, Bay sediment is also [...] Read more.
San Francisco Bay’s sediment is currently monitored for a variety of contaminants; however, data regarding the microplastics (MPs) in the area are still scarce. MPs’ occurrence in sediment samples has gained recognition as a reservoir for MP accumulation. Moreover, Bay sediment is also an important matrix for monitoring because sediment tends to accumulate certain contaminants and act as a source of contaminants in the Bay food web. This study analyzed MPs ranging from 25 µm to 5 mm in surface sediment grab samples (n = 8) and two sediment core samples (n = 2 cores analyzed with 11 samples from different depths). Our findings provide an evaluation of MP levels in different regions of the bay. The MP levels detected in Bay surface grab samples ranged from 2.1 to 11.9 MPs/g dry weight (n = 8), with a mean value of 6.2 MPs/g. The most abundant morphology was fibers, followed by fragments and films. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plastics Pollution in Aquatic Environments)
Show Figures

Figure 1

15 pages, 2662 KiB  
Article
Iron Oxide-Activated Carbon Composites for Enhanced Microwave-Assisted Pyrolysis of Hardwood
by Amine Lataf, Andrew E. Khalil Awad, Bjorn Joos, Robert Carleer, Jan Yperman, Sonja Schreurs, Jan D’Haen, Ann Cuypers and Dries Vandamme
Environments 2024, 11(5), 102; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050102 - 15 May 2024
Viewed by 654
Abstract
A commercial activated carbon (AC) was modified through iron oxide incorporation to obtain microwave absorbers (MWAs) for microwave-assisted pyrolysis. The influence of iron oxide content (5 and 20 wt% Fe3O4) and the modification methods were tested as follows: (1) [...] Read more.
A commercial activated carbon (AC) was modified through iron oxide incorporation to obtain microwave absorbers (MWAs) for microwave-assisted pyrolysis. The influence of iron oxide content (5 and 20 wt% Fe3O4) and the modification methods were tested as follows: (1) in situ co-precipitation + washing step with Milli-Q; (2) in situ co-precipitation + washing step with Milli-Q/ethanol; and (3) physical iron oxide blending. The resulting MWAs were evaluated on the microwave-assisted pyrolysis of hardwood in a Milestone Flexiwave microwave reactor. The biochar yield varied from 24 wt% to 89 wt% and was influenced by the modification method rather than the iron oxide addition. The MWAs with physically blended iron oxide resulted in biochar yields comparable to conventional biochar (450 °C). Furthermore, the addition of iron oxide-activated carbon composites during the microwave-assisted pyrolysis caused a significant decrease in the biochar’s 16 EPA polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, mainly by reducing the amount of pyrene in the biochar. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thermochemical Treatments of Biomass)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

13 pages, 2275 KiB  
Article
Removal of Residual Chlorine from Stormwater Using Low-Cost Adsorbents and Phytoremediation
by Marina Valentukeviciene, Ieva Andriulaityte, Agnieszka Karczmarczyk and Ramune Zurauskiene
Environments 2024, 11(5), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050101 - 12 May 2024
Viewed by 801
Abstract
In recent decades, the pollution of water with micropollutants has become an increasing environmental concern. Since 2019, increased stormwater pollution from chlorine-based disinfectants has been recorded due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Runoff from disinfected areas and the residual chlorine present in stormwater are [...] Read more.
In recent decades, the pollution of water with micropollutants has become an increasing environmental concern. Since 2019, increased stormwater pollution from chlorine-based disinfectants has been recorded due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Runoff from disinfected areas and the residual chlorine present in stormwater are transported to surface water bodies, posing a risk to aquatic flora and fauna. The objectives of this study were (1) to evaluate the efficiency of different low-cost and recyclable filter materials in removing residual chlorine, and (2) to test plants’ ability to reduce residual chlorine concentrations through phytoremediation. Experiments were conducted in the laboratory (column and batch) and in the field (raised garden bed) to assess the efficiency of various filter materials (peat, wood chips, sawdust and the lightweight aggregates) in retaining residual chlorine to be implemented in green infrastructure. The best retainers of chlorine were sawdust (96%) and the LWA Leca (76%). No harmful effects of residual chlorine (changes in growth, color, leaf size, etc.) on plants (Tagetes patula or Pisum savitum) were observed and the residual chlorine in the leachate samples was below the equipment’s detection limit. Our research results will contribute to future studies aiming to remove various micropollutants from stormwater using remediation technologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Research on Micropollutants in Water)
Show Figures

Figure 1

14 pages, 4092 KiB  
Article
Integrating Wastewater-Based Epidemiology and Mobility Data to Predict SARS-CoV-2 Cases
by Hannes Schenk, Rezgar Arabzadeh, Soroush Dabiri, Heribert Insam, Norbert Kreuzinger, Monika Büchel-Marxer, Rudolf Markt, Fabiana Nägele and Wolfgang Rauch
Environments 2024, 11(5), 100; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050100 - 12 May 2024
Viewed by 623
Abstract
Wastewater-based epidemiology has garnered considerable research interest, concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictive public health interventions and mobility limitations are measures to avert a rising case prevalence. The current study integrates WBE monitoring strategies, Google mobility data, and restriction information to assess the epidemiological [...] Read more.
Wastewater-based epidemiology has garnered considerable research interest, concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictive public health interventions and mobility limitations are measures to avert a rising case prevalence. The current study integrates WBE monitoring strategies, Google mobility data, and restriction information to assess the epidemiological development of COVID-19. Various SARIMAX models were employed to predict SARS-CoV-2 cases in Liechtenstein and two Austrian regions. This study analyzes four primary strategies for examining the progression of the pandemic waves, described as follows: 1—a univariate model based on active cases; 2—a multivariate model incorporating active cases and WBE data; 3—a multivariate model considering active cases and mobility data; and 4—a sensitivity analysis of WBE and mobility data incorporating restriction policies. Our key discovery reveals that, while WBE for SARS-CoV-2 holds immense potential for monitoring COVID-19 on a societal level, incorporating the analysis of mobility data and restriction policies enhances the precision of the trained models in predicting the state of public health during the pandemic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wastewater-Based Epidemiology Assessment)
Show Figures

Figure 1

22 pages, 1772 KiB  
Review
Mine Site Restoration: The Phytoremediation of Arsenic-Contaminated Soils
by Feizia Huslina, Leadin S. Khudur, Kalpit Shah, Aravind Surapaneni, Pacian Netherway and Andrew S. Ball
Environments 2024, 11(5), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050099 - 9 May 2024
Viewed by 807
Abstract
Arsenic (As) is considered one of the most toxic chemicals to both human and environmental health. Mining activities represent one of the main anthropogenic sources of As; the concentration of As in mine soil can reach 9300 mg kg−1. To overcome [...] Read more.
Arsenic (As) is considered one of the most toxic chemicals to both human and environmental health. Mining activities represent one of the main anthropogenic sources of As; the concentration of As in mine soil can reach 9300 mg kg−1. To overcome the major issue of soil As pollution, soil restoration is required. Biological restoration approaches are generally more cost-effective and environmentally sustainable than physical and chemical methods. In particular, phytoremediation, an environmentally friendly technique based on the use of plants to uptake contaminants from soil, has been successfully implemented to restore As-contaminated soils at mine sites. However, mine soils are generally depleted in essential plant nutrients, such as nitrogen (N). Recent research suggests that phytoremediation can be combined with other techniques (physical, chemical, and biological) to enhance the N content and plant biomass. The aim of this review is to assess the current state of knowledge in the field of the restoration of arsenic-impacted mine site soils, focusing on phytoremediation. We critically assess recent work examining the potential of the co-application of amendments with phytoremediation and identify promising technologies and key research gaps. More studies are required to test the effectiveness of using various soil additives to enhance the phytoremediation of As, not only in pot-scale experiments but also in the field, to enable an improved management strategy for mine site restoration in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environments: 10 Years of Science Together)
Show Figures

Figure 1

13 pages, 4030 KiB  
Article
Assessment of the Potential Contribution of the Urban Green System to the Carbon Balance of Cities
by Maria Elena Menconi, Livia Bonciarelli and David Grohmann
Environments 2024, 11(5), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050098 - 7 May 2024
Viewed by 716
Abstract
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a crucial challenge in urban areas characterized by high energy consumption and reduced exposure to nature. In this context, the urban green system could play a pivotal role. In the literature, scholars have analyzed both the ability of [...] Read more.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a crucial challenge in urban areas characterized by high energy consumption and reduced exposure to nature. In this context, the urban green system could play a pivotal role. In the literature, scholars have analyzed both the ability of species-specific and layout-specific green infrastructure to increase carbon sequestration and the best location sites for new green infrastructure to increase the provision of overall ecosystem services. There is a lack of studies helping green urban planners and designers choose where and which green infrastructure to implement based on vegetation species-specific performance and the local carbon emissions of city components. This paper uses tree inventory data from a medium-sized city in central Italy (Perugia) to develop a spatial analysis of urban park performance in carbon sequestration. Then, the method evaluates the carbon emission of a public city building to generate a spatialized balance between building demand and tree supply to support local decisions about the best locations for new green infrastructure and the choice between species. The paper contributes to GIS-based tools that vary the recommended location sites and species for new green infrastructure based on the demanded ecosystem service. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Carbon Sequestration Potential of Urban Parks)
Show Figures

Figure 1

28 pages, 2091 KiB  
Article
Second Life of Used Lithium-Ion Batteries from Electric Vehicles in the USA
by Jay Meegoda, Ghadi Charbel and Daniel Watts
Environments 2024, 11(5), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050097 - 7 May 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 968
Abstract
This article focuses on the reuse and recycling of end-of-life (EOL) lithium-ion batteries (LIB) in the USA in the context of the rapidly growing electric vehicle (EV) market. Due to the recent increase in the enactment of both current and pending regulations concerning [...] Read more.
This article focuses on the reuse and recycling of end-of-life (EOL) lithium-ion batteries (LIB) in the USA in the context of the rapidly growing electric vehicle (EV) market. Due to the recent increase in the enactment of both current and pending regulations concerning EV battery recycling, this work focuses on the recycling aspect for lithium-ion batteries rather than emphasizing the reuse of EOL batteries (although these practices have value and utility). A comparative analysis of various recycling methods is presented, including hydrometallurgy, pyrometallurgy, direct recycling, and froth flotation. The efficiency and commercial viability of these individual methods are highlighted. This article also emphasizes the practices and capabilities of leading companies, noting their current superior annual processing capacities. The transportation complexities of lithium-ion batteries are also discussed, noting that they are classified as hazardous materials and that stringent safety standards are needed for their handling. The study underscores the importance of recycling in mitigating environmental risks associated with EOL of LIBs and facilitates comparisons among the diverse recycling processes and capacities among key players in the industry. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

13 pages, 4870 KiB  
Article
A Droplet-Based Microfluidic Impedance Flow Cytometer for Detection of Micropollutants in Water
by Mohammadreza Aghel, Somayeh Fardindoost, Nishat Tasnim and Mina Hoorfar
Environments 2024, 11(5), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050096 - 6 May 2024
Viewed by 716
Abstract
Microplastics as micropollutants are widely spread in aquatic areas that can have a toxic effect on aquatic life. To reduce the potential risk they pose, it is essential to detect the microplastics and the source of the contamination of the environment. Here, we [...] Read more.
Microplastics as micropollutants are widely spread in aquatic areas that can have a toxic effect on aquatic life. To reduce the potential risk they pose, it is essential to detect the microplastics and the source of the contamination of the environment. Here, we designed and developed a droplet-based microfluidic impedance flow cytometer for in situ detection of microplastics in water. Impedance spectroscopy enables the direct measurement of the electrical features of microplastics as they move in water, allowing for sizing and identification of concentration. To show the feasibility of the developed method, pure and functionalized polystyrene beads ranging from 500 nm to 6 μm in four size groups and different concentrations were used. Focusing on three different frequencies (4.4 MHz, 11 MHz, and 22.5 MHz), the changes in the signal phase at frequencies of 4.4 MHz and 11 MHz are a strong indicator of microplastic presence. In addition, the functionalized microplastics showed different magnitudes of the measured signal phase than the pure ones. A k-nearest neighbors classification model demonstrated our developed system’s impressive 97.4% sensitivity in accurately identifying microplastics based on concentration. The equivalent circuit model revealed that the double-layer capacity of water droplets is significantly impacted by the presence of the microplastics. Our findings show the potential of droplet-based microfluidic impedance flow cytometry as a practical method for detecting microplastics in water. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Research on Micropollutants in Water)
Show Figures

Figure 1

18 pages, 3958 KiB  
Article
Drought Monitoring Using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer-Derived NDVI Anomalies in Northern Algeria from 2011 to 2022
by Ramzi Benhizia, Kwanele Phinzi, Fatemeh Hateffard, Haithem Aib and György Szabó
Environments 2024, 11(5), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050095 - 4 May 2024
Viewed by 863
Abstract
Drought has emerged as a major challenge to global food and water security, and is particularly pronounced for Algeria, which frequently grapples with water shortages. This paper sought to monitor and assess the temporal and spatial distribution of drought severity across northern Algeria [...] Read more.
Drought has emerged as a major challenge to global food and water security, and is particularly pronounced for Algeria, which frequently grapples with water shortages. This paper sought to monitor and assess the temporal and spatial distribution of drought severity across northern Algeria (excluding the Sahara) during the growing season from 2011 to 2022, while exploring the relationship between the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) anomaly and climate variables (rainfall and temperature). Temporal NDVI data from the Terra moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite covering the period 2000–2022 and climate data from the European Reanalysis 5th Generation (ERA5) datasets collected during the period 1990–2022 were used. The results showed that a considerable portion of northern Algeria has suffered from droughts of varying degrees of severity during the study period. The years 2022, 2021, 2016, and 2018 were the hardest hit, with 76%, 71%, 66%, and 60% of the area, respectively, experiencing drought conditions. While the relationship between the NDVI anomaly and the climatic factors showed variability across the different years, the steady decrease in vegetation health indicated by the NDVI anomaly corroborates the observed increase in drought intensity during the study period. We conclude that the MODIS-NDVI product offers a cost-efficient approach to monitor drought in data-scarce regions like Algeria, presenting a viable alternative to conventional climate-based drought indices, while serving as an initial step towards formulating drought mitigation plans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Risk and Climate Change II)
Show Figures

Figure 1

17 pages, 1870 KiB  
Article
Assessing the Interpretability–Performance Trade-Off of Artificial Neural Networks Using Sentinel Fish Health Data
by Patrick G. McMillan, Zeny Z. Feng, Tim J. Arciszewski, Robert Proner and Lorna E. Deeth
Environments 2024, 11(5), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050094 - 3 May 2024
Viewed by 776
Abstract
A number of sentinel species are regularly sampled from the environment near the Oil Sands Region (OSR) in Alberta, Canada. In particular, trout-perch are sampled as a proxy for the health of the aquatic ecosystem. As the development of the OSR began before [...] Read more.
A number of sentinel species are regularly sampled from the environment near the Oil Sands Region (OSR) in Alberta, Canada. In particular, trout-perch are sampled as a proxy for the health of the aquatic ecosystem. As the development of the OSR began before the environmental monitoring program was in place, there is currently no established measure for the baseline health of the local ecosystem. A common solution is to calculate normal ranges for fish endpoints. Observations found to be outside the normal range are then flagged, alerting researchers to the potential presence of stressors in the local environment. The quality of the normal ranges is dependent on the accuracy of the estimates used to calculate them. This paper explores the use of neural networks and regularized regression for improving the prediction accuracy of fish endpoints. We also consider the trade-off between the prediction accuracy and interpretability of each model. We find that neural networks can provide increased prediction accuracy, but this improvement in accuracy may not be worth the loss in interpretability in some ecological studies. The elastic net offers both good prediction accuracy and interpretability, making it a safe choice for many ecological applications. A hybridized method combining both the neural network and elastic net offers high prediction accuracy as well as some interpretability, and therefore it is the recommended method for this application. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring of Contaminated Water and Soil)
Show Figures

Figure 1

11 pages, 2222 KiB  
Article
Lithium Toxicity in Lepidium sativum L. Seedlings: Exploring Li Accumulation’s Impact on Germination, Root Growth, and DNA Integrity
by Valentina Iannilli, Gianluca D’Onofrio, Davide Marzi, Laura Passatore, Fabrizio Pietrini, Lorenzo Massimi and Massimo Zacchini
Environments 2024, 11(5), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050093 - 1 May 2024
Viewed by 811
Abstract
The predicted increase in demand for minor metals for modern technologies raises major concerns regarding potential environmental concentration increases. Among the minor metals, lithium (Li) is particularly noteworthy due to growing demand for battery production. Concerns have been raised about the impact on [...] Read more.
The predicted increase in demand for minor metals for modern technologies raises major concerns regarding potential environmental concentration increases. Among the minor metals, lithium (Li) is particularly noteworthy due to growing demand for battery production. Concerns have been raised about the impact on biota of increasing Li concentrations in the environment. To expand the knowledge of the effects of Li on plants, garden cress (Lepidium sativum L.), a model plant for ecotoxicity assay, was tested in a 72 h test in Petri plates. The results showed a stimulation effect of Li at the lowest concentration (Li chloride 10 mg L−1) on seed germination and primary root elongation. Conversely, higher Li concentrations (50 and 150 mg L−1) caused a progressive impairment in both parameters. A genotoxic effect of Li on root cells, evaluated through the alkaline comet assay, was observed at each concentration tested, particularly at 150 mg L−1 Li chloride. Elemental analysis showed that Li accumulated in the seedlings in a dose–concentration relationship, confirming its ability to be readily absorbed and accumulated in plants. Given the likely increase in Li levels in the environment, further research is required to clarify the toxicity mechanisms induced by Li on growth and nucleic acids. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

9 pages, 2586 KiB  
Communication
TiO2-Coated Meltblown Nonwoven Fabrics Prepared via Atomic Layer Deposition for the Inactivation of E. coli as a Model Photocatalytic Drinking Water Treatment System
by Alexander G. Aragon, Jaime A. Cárdenas Sánchez, Carlos Zimeri, Eunkyoung Shim, Xiaomeng Fang and Kyana R. L. Young
Environments 2024, 11(5), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050092 - 30 Apr 2024
Viewed by 932
Abstract
The controlled manufacturing of semiconductor photocatalysts is crucial to their development for drinking water treatment. In this study, TiO2-coated meltblown nonwoven fabrics prepared via Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) are applied for the inactivation of Escherichia coli (E. coli). It [...] Read more.
The controlled manufacturing of semiconductor photocatalysts is crucial to their development for drinking water treatment. In this study, TiO2-coated meltblown nonwoven fabrics prepared via Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) are applied for the inactivation of Escherichia coli (E. coli). It is observed that in the presence of an ultraviolet light-emitting diode (UV-LED) light source (255 nm), 1.35 log E. coli inactivation is achieved. However, exposure to catalyst-coated fabrics in addition to the light source resulted in >4 log E. coli inactivation, suggesting a much higher rate of hydroxyl radical formation on the surface, leading to cell death. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Technologies of Water and Wastewater Treatment)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

16 pages, 2472 KiB  
Article
Searching for the Profitability of Energy Crops: An Agroecological–Economic Land Use Suitability (AE-landUSE) Model
by Mauro Viccaro, Severino Romano, Immacolata Rosalia and Mario Cozzi
Environments 2024, 11(5), 91; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050091 - 29 Apr 2024
Viewed by 756
Abstract
The current geopolitical and energy market instability calls for speeding up the EU clean energy transition to increase energy security in all the European regions and make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Among renewable energies, modern bioenergy is a promising near-zero-emission [...] Read more.
The current geopolitical and energy market instability calls for speeding up the EU clean energy transition to increase energy security in all the European regions and make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Among renewable energies, modern bioenergy is a promising near-zero-emission fuel for increasing energy security in the heating, electricity and transport sectors while promoting growth and job creation, especially in rural areas. In such a context, energy crops will continue to play a key role. Since agricultural planning is a complex issue, especially when energy crops could compete with food ones, we propose an agroecological–economic land use suitability model (AE-landUSE model) to promote the sustainable use of land resources. The AE-landUSE model was developed by integrating cost–benefit analysis (CBA) and land use suitability analysis (LSA) within geographic information systems (GISs). Tested in the Basilicata region (Southern Italy), comparing two different energy crops (rapeseed and cardoon), the results show the model’s utility in identifying suitable areas for energy crops where the investments will be cost-effective. The proposed model will help decision-makers in energy-agricultural planning to increase energy security sustainably. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

15 pages, 2401 KiB  
Article
Aquatic Bacterial Community Connectivity: The Effect of Hydrological Flow on Community Diversity and Composition
by Javad Sadeghi, Clare J. Venney, Shelby Wright, James Watkins, Dana Manning, Edel Bai, Chelsea Frank and Daniel D. Heath
Environments 2024, 11(5), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050090 - 28 Apr 2024
Viewed by 857
Abstract
Microbial communities are vital components of freshwater ecosystems due to their role in nutrient cycling and energy flow; however, the mechanisms driving their variation are still being explored. In aquatic systems, water flow (hydrology) can impact microbial community composition through community connectivity; however, [...] Read more.
Microbial communities are vital components of freshwater ecosystems due to their role in nutrient cycling and energy flow; however, the mechanisms driving their variation are still being explored. In aquatic systems, water flow (hydrology) can impact microbial community composition through community connectivity; however, the details of hydrology’s effects on microbial connectivity remain unclear. To address this question, we used 16S rRNA metabarcoding to determine bacterial community composition and connectivity across flow transects in three connected Great Lakes waterbodies with very different water-flow regimes: the Little River (high flow), the Detroit River (moderate flow), and Lake Erie (low flow). Bacterial alpha diversity (Chao1) did not differ among the three locations or sample sites along the transects. Analyses of beta diversity using community dissimilarity matrices identified significant differences among the three locations and among sample sites within locations. Bacterial community connectivity varied among the three locations, with a significant distance–decay relationship observed only in the low-flow location, which is indicative of connectivity driven by spatial proximity. Directional analyses showed that the water-flow direction affected bacterial similarity, consistent with the expected hydrological effects on community connectivity and previous published work. Our results indicate that (1) microbial community composition varies within and among even geographically close sampling locations and (2) the specific water-flow regime appears to affect bacterial community connectivity. Including hydrology in models of bacterial community composition will improve our understanding of the relative roles of selection versus stochastic effects on bacterial community diversity and composition in freshwater ecosystems. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

13 pages, 2481 KiB  
Article
Detection and Screening of Organic Contaminants in A Riverine System of Georgia Using Non-Targeted Analysis
by Gayatri Basapuram, Srimanti Duttagupta and Avishek Dutta
Environments 2024, 11(5), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050089 - 26 Apr 2024
Viewed by 878
Abstract
Numerous organic chemicals exist within aquatic environments, yet effectively screening and prioritizing them is a huge challenge. This study provides a comprehensive investigation into the ecological dynamics of the North Oconee River within Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, with a specific focus on the distribution [...] Read more.
Numerous organic chemicals exist within aquatic environments, yet effectively screening and prioritizing them is a huge challenge. This study provides a comprehensive investigation into the ecological dynamics of the North Oconee River within Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, with a specific focus on the distribution of 33 identified compounds, including a prominent pesticide. The research, conducted in the riverine ecosystems proximal to the Firefly trail, employs advanced analytical techniques to elucidate potential contamination sources arising from agricultural and urban runoff. Intriguingly, the study reveals North Oconee River near the Firefly Trail as a notable site for heightened pesticide contamination, warranting a meticulous exploration of its origins. Furthermore, the investigation unveils the intricate microbial degradation processes of malathion within the North Oconee River, elucidating the pivotal role played by microbial activity in river water. The detection of degradant byproducts prompts the considerations of bioavailability and toxicity, associating potential implications for the river’s overall ecological health. Ongoing research endeavors to precisely quantify environmental risks and unravel indigenous microbial degradation pathways, presenting pivotal contributions to the scientific community’s understanding of complex riverine ecosystems. This research serves as a foundational piece in informing sustainable environmental management practices and emphasizes the urgency of comprehensive stewardship in safeguarding aquatic ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Research on Micropollutants in Water)
Show Figures

Figure 1

34 pages, 3225 KiB  
Article
Plant-Wide Models for Optimizing the Operation and Maintenance of BTEX-Contaminated Wastewater Treatment and Reuse
by Dániel Bencsik, Tanush Wadhawan, Ferenc Házi and Tamás Karches
Environments 2024, 11(5), 88; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050088 - 25 Apr 2024
Viewed by 835
Abstract
Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes, collectively known as BTEX compounds, are significant emerging contaminants in municipal wastewater. Stricter effluent quality regulations necessitate their removal, especially with concerns about organic micropollutant concentrations. Water scarcity further underscores the need for wastewater treatment to ensure safe [...] Read more.
Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes, collectively known as BTEX compounds, are significant emerging contaminants in municipal wastewater. Stricter effluent quality regulations necessitate their removal, especially with concerns about organic micropollutant concentrations. Water scarcity further underscores the need for wastewater treatment to ensure safe agricultural or drinking water supplies. Although biological treatment partially reduces BTEX levels through processes like biodegradation and sorption, additional purification using physico-chemical methods is crucial for substantial reduction. This paper aims to outline plant-wide simulation methods for treating BTEX-contaminated sewage and facilitating reuse, adhering to IWA Good Modelling Practice Guidelines. The model, built upon the MiniSumo process model, incorporates equations detailing BTEX metabolism and removal kinetics, informed by an extensive literature review. Using a variant of the Benchmark Simulation Model with granular activated carbon for water reuse, the study examines strategies for improving effluent quality and minimizing operational costs. These strategies include adjusting the sludge retention time and airflow to enhance BTEX degradation and stripping, respectively, and comparing maintenance approaches for the GAC tower. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Technologies of Water and Wastewater Treatment)
Show Figures

Figure 1

21 pages, 2076 KiB  
Article
Analysing the Evidence of the Effects of Climate Change, Air Pollutants, and Occupational Factors in the Appearance of Cataracts
by Lucía Echevarría-Lucas, José Mª Senciales-González and Jesús Rodrigo-Comino
Environments 2024, 11(5), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050087 - 24 Apr 2024
Viewed by 961
Abstract
Cataracts are ocular conditions characterized by the opacification of the natural lens within the eye, which develops gradually over time and can affect one or both eyes. This condition commonly results from age-related changes in the lens, but can also arise from various [...] Read more.
Cataracts are ocular conditions characterized by the opacification of the natural lens within the eye, which develops gradually over time and can affect one or both eyes. This condition commonly results from age-related changes in the lens, but can also arise from various factors. Cataract surgeries are expensive, particularly in states such as Spain, where they receive full support from the Spanish social welfare system. Despite a significant body of research on cataracts, few studies address the social and environmental factors triggering their development or consider the spatiotemporal evolution of their impacts. We analysed the incidence of cataracts in a southern region of Spain, differentiating between senile cataracts (those over 60 years old) and early cataracts (those between 15 and 59 years old). Twenty-one socio-economic, climate, and air pollution variables were statistically analysed using bivariate correlation, cluster analysis, and Geographic Information Systems. Eleven years of observation show a decadal increase in annually averaged maximum temperature and a decrease in annual precipitation, partially explaining the rising incidence of operable cataracts in the following year (r = 0.77 and −0.84, respectively; p < 0.05). Furthermore, early cataracts responded spatially to % agricultural employment (r = 0.85; p < 0.05) and moderately to maximum temperatures, insolation, and various constituents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Air Quality, Health and Climate)
Show Figures

Figure 1

6 pages, 221 KiB  
Opinion
Challenges in Restoring Mediterranean Seagrass Ecosystems in the Anthropocene
by Monica Montefalcone
Environments 2024, 11(5), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050086 - 23 Apr 2024
Viewed by 955
Abstract
The intense human pressures in the Anthropocene epoch are causing an alarming decline in marine coastal ecosystems and an unprecedented loss of biodiversity. This situation underscores the urgency of making ecological restoration a global priority to recover degraded ecosystems. Meadows of the endemic [...] Read more.
The intense human pressures in the Anthropocene epoch are causing an alarming decline in marine coastal ecosystems and an unprecedented loss of biodiversity. This situation underscores the urgency of making ecological restoration a global priority to recover degraded ecosystems. Meadows of the endemic Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceanica have lost more than half of their original extent in the last century, necessitating immediate conservation and management measures, supported by active restoration interventions. This paper explores new opportunities and provides specific recommendations to enhance restoration as a fundamental strategy for reversing the decline of P. oceanica ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea. When a return to a historical pristine reference condition may not be feasible in the short term or desirable given current environmental conditions and uncertainty, transplanting the tolerant and fast-growing seagrass species Cymodocea nodosa could facilitate natural recolonization. This would occur through secondary ecological succession, benefiting the sensitive and slow-growing species P. oceanica. Future global and local efforts should primarily focus on proactive management to prevent further alterations by planning appropriate conservation measures in a timely manner to mitigate and reverse global changes. As a secondary step, restoration programs can be implemented with a focus on ‘target-oriented’ rather than ‘reference-oriented’ conditions, aiming to establish ecosystems capable of sustaining the future rather than replicating the historical environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Restoration in Marine Environments)
Previous Issue
Next Issue
Back to TopTop