Feature Papers in Environments in 2021

A special issue of Environments (ISSN 2076-3298).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 March 2022) | Viewed by 169146

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Guest Editor
Department of Bioenvironmental Systems Engineering, National Taiwan University, No. 1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Road, Taipei 10617, Taiwan
Interests: ecological hydrology monitoring and modeling in drainage basins; global change land use modeling; landscape ecology; system dynamic modeling of wetlands; spatial analysis and modeling; blockchain; spatial dynamic modeling
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

As Editor-in-Chief of Environments, I am pleased to announce this Special Issue, entitled “Feature Papers in Environments in 2021”. This Special Issue will be a collection of high-quality reviews and original papers from editorial board members, guest editors, and leading researchers, discussing new knowledge or new cutting-edge developments in the science of environments in 2021.

Prof. Dr. Yu-Pin Lin
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short 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 thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Environments is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly 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 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • innovation environmental technology
  • smart environmental management
  • environmental policy
  • transdisciplinary approach

Published Papers (36 papers)

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19 pages, 3993 KiB  
Article
Creation of Value Chains for the Sustainability of Control and Eradication Actions on Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle
by Leonel J. R. Nunes
Environments 2022, 9(5), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9050064 - 23 May 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3162
Abstract
Actions to control and eradicate Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle are essential to the prevention of uncontrolled growth and expansion of this species and its competition with native species. This competition leads to biodiversity and productivity losses in forests. The present study evaluated the [...] Read more.
Actions to control and eradicate Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle are essential to the prevention of uncontrolled growth and expansion of this species and its competition with native species. This competition leads to biodiversity and productivity losses in forests. The present study evaluated the potential to create value chains to maintain the sustainability of control actions through the energy recovery of collected A. altissima biomass. Other possibilities were also discussed, such as the extraction of allelopathic compounds. For this purpose, and to assess the potential for energy recovery, samples of A. altissima were collected and analyzed in the laboratory to discuss the potential of using extracted compounds in nature-based applications, and a literature review was carried out. It was found that, although there is potential for the use of these biomasses for energy production, the high levels of chlorine and heavy metals pose some obstacles to their large-scale use, mainly due to their corrosive potential. On the other hand, the extraction of allelopathic compounds was shown to be potentially interesting for use in the control of other invasive species. Used in this application, it may be possible to create value chains to sustain, control, and eradicate the actions of this invasive species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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13 pages, 1697 KiB  
Article
Kinetic Aspects of the Interactions between TiO2 Nanoparticles, Mercury and the Green Alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii
by Mengting Li and Vera I. Slaveykova
Environments 2022, 9(4), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9040044 - 26 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3330
Abstract
Aquatic organisms are exposed to mixtures of environmental pollutants, including engineered nanoparticles; however, the interactions underlying cocktails’ effects are poorly understood, in particular, the kinetic aspects. The present study explored the time course of the interactions between nano-sized titanium dioxide (nTiO2) [...] Read more.
Aquatic organisms are exposed to mixtures of environmental pollutants, including engineered nanoparticles; however, the interactions underlying cocktails’ effects are poorly understood, in particular, the kinetic aspects. The present study explored the time course of the interactions between nano-sized titanium dioxide (nTiO2) with different primary particle sizes, algae and inorganic mercury (Hg) over 96 h under conditions that were representative of a highly contaminated environment. The results showed that nTiO2 with smaller primary particle size and higher concentrations rapidly reduced the adsorption and internalization of mercury by green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Such a mitigating effect on mercury bioavailability could be explained by the strong adsorbing capacity of nTiO2 for Hg and the aggregation and sedimentation of nTiO2 and bound Hg. The present study highlighted the key processes determining the bioavailability of mercury to the algae in mixture exposure under conditions representative of a highly contaminated environment, such as industrial wastewater effluents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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11 pages, 4548 KiB  
Article
Monitoring Phycocyanin with Landsat 8/Operational Land Imager Orange Contra-Band
by Igor Ogashawara, Lin Li, Chase Howard and Gregory K. Druschel
Environments 2022, 9(3), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9030040 - 19 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3933
Abstract
The Operational Land Imager (OLI) onboard the Landsat 8 satellite has a panchromatic band (503–676 nm) that has been used to compute a virtual spectral band known as “orange contra-band” (590–635 nm). The major application of the orange contra-band is the monitoring of [...] Read more.
The Operational Land Imager (OLI) onboard the Landsat 8 satellite has a panchromatic band (503–676 nm) that has been used to compute a virtual spectral band known as “orange contra-band” (590–635 nm). The major application of the orange contra-band is the monitoring of cyanobacteria which is usually quantified by the measurement of the concentration of phycocyanin (PC) which has an absorption peak around 620 nm. In this study, we evaluated the use of the orange contra-band approach for estimating PC concentration from in situ proximal hyperspectral data from Eagle Creek Reservoir (ECR), in Indiana, USA. We first validated the empirical relationship for the computation of the orange contra-band by using the panchromatic, red, and green spectral bands from ECR. PC concentration retrieval using the orange contra-band were not successful when using the entire dataset (R2 < 0.1) or when using only PC concentrations higher than 50 mg/m3 (R2 < 0.24). Better results were achieved when using samples in which PC was 1.5 times higher than the chlorophyll-a concentration (R2 = 0.84). These results highlighted the need for the development of remote sensing algorithms for the accurate estimation of PC concentration from non-PC dominant waters which could be use to track and/or predict cyanobacteria blooms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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16 pages, 5767 KiB  
Article
Alternatives to Enhance the Structural Performance of PET-Modified Reinforced Concrete Beams
by Joseph J. Assaad, Mario Khalil and Jamal Khatib
Environments 2022, 9(3), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9030037 - 17 Mar 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3804
Abstract
Numerous studies investigated the possibility of incorporating plastic wastes in concrete mixtures, thus contributing to efficient management and sustainable development of the construction industry. This paper investigates the possibility of reducing the water-to-cement ratio and/or incorporating steel fibers or polymeric latexes to mitigate [...] Read more.
Numerous studies investigated the possibility of incorporating plastic wastes in concrete mixtures, thus contributing to efficient management and sustainable development of the construction industry. This paper investigates the possibility of reducing the water-to-cement ratio and/or incorporating steel fibers or polymeric latexes to mitigate the drop in structural properties of reinforced concrete (RC) beams containing polyethylene terephthalate (PET) additions. The PET was derived from waste plastic bottles that were shredded into small pieces and added during concrete batching at 1.5% to 4.5%, by total volume. Test results showed that the concrete plain and structural properties degrade with PET additions, given their lightweight nature and poor characteristic strength compared to aggregate particles. The reduction of w/c from 0.55 to 0.46 proved efficient to refine the matrix porosity and reinstate the shear and flexural strengths of RC beams. Moreso, the incorporation of 0.8% steel fibers (by volume) or 15% styrene-butadiene rubber latexes (by mixing water) were efficient to enhance the bridging phenomenon and reduce the propagation of cracks during beam testing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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23 pages, 8916 KiB  
Article
Application of Landscape-Ecological Approach for Greenways Planning in Rural Agricultural Landscape
by Jakub Melicher and Jana Špulerová
Environments 2022, 9(2), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9020030 - 17 Feb 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 4353
Abstract
This article presents an innovative approach to the concept of facilitating greenways into sustainable landscape planning. The greenways can be planned by application of a landscape-ecological concept, including analysis and synthesis of selected abiotic, biotic, and socio-economic landscape-ecological factors and recreation conditions, and [...] Read more.
This article presents an innovative approach to the concept of facilitating greenways into sustainable landscape planning. The greenways can be planned by application of a landscape-ecological concept, including analysis and synthesis of selected abiotic, biotic, and socio-economic landscape-ecological factors and recreation conditions, and by reviewing the current landscape structure and condition of linear components of green infrastructure. Determining the landscape ecological stability, visual impact of agricultural lands, potential erosion risks and real erosion processes, and identifying the natural, cultural, and historical values in the landscape, contributes to the design of ideal greenways placement and other linear components of green infrastructure. Applying these proposals to the agricultural landscape would increase the ecological stability and connectivity, decrease soil and water erosion risks, eliminate visual impact, and develop recreational infrastructure. In this way, greenways planning brings about a synergy between sustainable rural development, landscape and nature protection, and landscape aesthetics, which provides optimal landscape utilization and may encourage tourism and economic prosperity in the study area. Finally, in addition to the researched ecological benefits, our greenways proposal represents an alternative connection of settlements in rural agricultural landscapes, and so it can stimulate sustainable mobility and recreation as well as physical activity, health, and well-being. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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22 pages, 3438 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Fish Abundance, Biodiversity and Movement Periodicity Changes in a Large River over a 20-Year Period
by Jean-Philippe Benitez, Arnaud Dierckx, Gilles Rimbaud, Billy Nzau Matondo, Séverine Renardy, Xavier Rollin, Alain Gillet, Frédéric Dumonceau, Pascal Poncin, Jean-Claude Philippart and Michaël Ovidio
Environments 2022, 9(2), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9020022 - 29 Jan 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 4626
Abstract
A river is an ecosystem where fish fauna represents an important structural element. To re-establish connectivity, it is imperative to allow movement between functional habitats. Due to the hydromorphological complexity of large anthropized rivers and the lack of study techniques that can be [...] Read more.
A river is an ecosystem where fish fauna represents an important structural element. To re-establish connectivity, it is imperative to allow movement between functional habitats. Due to the hydromorphological complexity of large anthropized rivers and the lack of study techniques that can be used in such environments, relevant data with regard to fish ecology are scarce. On the River Meuse, Belgium, at a point 323 km upstream from the North Sea, the Lixhe hydroelectric dam is equipped with two fishways. Both were continuously monitored using capture traps for 20 consecutive years (from 1999 to 2018), representing 4151 monitoring events. The objectives of the present study were to describe the overall abundance and movement indicators of mainly holobiotic potamodromous fish species and to analyse their temporal evolution. We captured 388,631 individuals (n = 35 fish species) during the 20 years of fishway monitoring; 22.7% were adults (>75% of which were cyprinids), and 83.3% juveniles (>90% cyprinids). From 1999 to 2018, the results showed a drastic reduction in yearly captures for some native species as well as the apparent emergence of non-native (e.g., Silurus glanis) and reintroduced species (e.g., Salmo salar). The annual capture periodicities associated with environmental factors were clearly defined and were mostly related to the spring spawning migration of the adult stage. This long-term monitoring demonstrated how the fishways are used by the whole fish community and allowed a better understanding of their movement ecology in a large lowland anthropized river. The appearance of non-native species and the drastic decline in abundance of some common and widespread European fish should prompt river managers to adopt conservation measures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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13 pages, 986 KiB  
Article
Dissolution of Silver Nanoparticles in Stratified Estuarine Mesocosms and Silver Accumulation in a Simple Planktonic Freshwater Trophic Chain
by Camille Guilleux, Zhongzhi Chen, Peter G. C. Campbell and Claude Fortin
Environments 2022, 9(2), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9020020 - 28 Jan 2022
Viewed by 4182
Abstract
The increasing presence of nanomaterials in consumer products has led the scientific community to study the environmental fate of these contaminants of emerging concern. Silver nanoparticles, used mainly for their antibacterial properties, are among the most common nanomaterials. Understanding their transformations and interactions [...] Read more.
The increasing presence of nanomaterials in consumer products has led the scientific community to study the environmental fate of these contaminants of emerging concern. Silver nanoparticles, used mainly for their antibacterial properties, are among the most common nanomaterials. Understanding their transformations and interactions with living organisms, especially under environmentally relevant conditions that can modify metal bioavailability, is a crucial step in the study of their impacts on aquatic ecosystems. In the present study, citrate-coated silver nanoparticles (20 nm; 10 µg/L) were added to the surface freshwater layer of mesocosms simulating a stratified estuary. The investigation by dialysis of the nanoparticle dissolution showed that a large amount of total silver was found in the freshwater layer (and a very low amount in the seawater layer) and that 5–15% was in the form of dissolved silver. These results indicate that the halocline, separating fresh water from seawater, acted as a strong density barrier limiting the sedimentation of the nanoparticles. A simple trophic chain, composed of the freshwater alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and the invertebrate Daphnia magna, was used to determine silver bioavailability. This study suggests that citrate-coated silver nanoparticles do not significantly contribute to Ag accumulation by algae but may do so for invertebrates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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13 pages, 8490 KiB  
Article
Characterization of the Dynamics of Leachate Contamination Plumes in the Surroundings of the Hulene-B Waste Dump in Maputo, Mozambique
by Bernardino Bernardo, Carla Candeias and Fernando Rocha
Environments 2022, 9(2), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9020019 - 26 Jan 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3978
Abstract
The contamination of areas around solid urban waste dumps is a global challenge for the maintenance of environmental quality in large urban centres in developing countries. This study applied a geophysical method (electrical resistivity) to identify leachate contamination plumes in the subsoil and [...] Read more.
The contamination of areas around solid urban waste dumps is a global challenge for the maintenance of environmental quality in large urban centres in developing countries. This study applied a geophysical method (electrical resistivity) to identify leachate contamination plumes in the subsoil and groundwater, as well as to describe their temporal dynamics (2020 and 2021) in the surroundings of the Hulene-B waste dump, Maputo, Mozambique. Eight 400 m electrical resistivity profiles were performed, four profiles in January 2020 and four profiles in May 2021 overlapped, and the data were inverted with RES2D software. The electrical resistivity models predominantly indicate an E-W movement of large contamination plumes that are successively diluted with saturated media and groundwater, creating zones of less resistive anomalies (<4.2–8.5 Ω·m) possibly contaminated at the two analysed seasons, between 2020–2021. The thickness of the contamination plumes was higher in summer (2020) for profiles 1 and 2, and we associate it with the production and migration mechanisms of leachate that are intense in the hot and rainy season. Southwest of the dump, profile 4b showed the propagation of anomalous areas on the surface and at depth, which are associated with the production of leachate resulting from the continuous decomposition of waste that is continuously deposited in a new area southwest of the dump, thus generating a slow and continuous migration of leachate at depth, mainly in winter (2021). The spatial distribution of contamination plumes during both seasons was reduced significantly farther away from the waste deposit, revealing the attenuating effect of groundwater and lithological substrate (Profile 3). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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7 pages, 1170 KiB  
Article
Preliminary Studies of Methylene Blue Remotion from Aqueous Solutions by Ocimum basilicum
by Haneen A. K. Karaghool, Khalid Hashim, Patryk Kot and Magomed Muradov
Environments 2022, 9(2), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9020017 - 23 Jan 2022
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 3990
Abstract
The continuous expansion in the textile industry results in high loads of coloured wastewaters that heavily pollute the limited freshwater sources. Therefore, a wide array of treatment methods has been used to remediate water/wastewater from dyes. One common practice is the use of [...] Read more.
The continuous expansion in the textile industry results in high loads of coloured wastewaters that heavily pollute the limited freshwater sources. Therefore, a wide array of treatment methods has been used to remediate water/wastewater from dyes. One common practice is the use of plants to degrade, absorb, metabolise, and detoxify different types of pollutants, including dyes. This study employs sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) as a phytoremediation model herb to remove different concentrations (5–25 mg/L) of methylene blue (MB) dye from synthetic water, taking into account the effects of the MB dye concentration (5–25 mg/L) and contact time (up to 10 days). The results showed that the ability of Ocimum basilicum to absorb MB dye decreased with the increase of the MB dye concentration and increased with the increase of the contact time. The best removal of the MB dye was 93% when the concentration of the MB dye was 25 mg/L and the contact time was 10 days. Additionally, it was noticed that the relative growth rate (RGR) of the herbs was adversely influenced by increasing MB dye concentrations and that the best RGR value was 2.2 g/day when the MB dye concentration was 5 mg/L. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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17 pages, 2668 KiB  
Article
Waste Management and the Circular Economy in Cyprus—The Case of the SWAN Project
by Athanasios Angelis-Dimakis, George Arampatzis, Andreas Alexopoulos, Andreas Pantazopoulos, Ioannis Vyrides, Nikolaos Chourdakis and Vasilis Angelis
Environments 2022, 9(2), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9020016 - 23 Jan 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 4652
Abstract
The increase in waste volume and greenhouse gas emissions and decrease in raw-material reserves are some of the serious problems that our planet is facing. The measures needed to address these issues cannot be implemented under the prevailing linear economy model; hence, the [...] Read more.
The increase in waste volume and greenhouse gas emissions and decrease in raw-material reserves are some of the serious problems that our planet is facing. The measures needed to address these issues cannot be implemented under the prevailing linear economy model; hence, the circular economy model has been introduced. The successful implementation of circularity, whose basic principles include waste reduction, reuse, and recycling, requires a change in the behaviour of all the parties involved and is expected to lead to industrial–urban symbiosis schemes. The present paper looks at the current state and future prospects of the circular economy in Cyprus, based on the evidence drawn from an EU-funded project entitled “a digital Solid Waste reuse plAtform for BalkaN” (Project Acronym: SWAN). The project’s main objective was the design and development of a digital solid waste reuse platform involving four countries: Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, and Cyprus. Using the data collected, in the context of this project, from a sample of Cypriot industries, we looked into the familiarisation of the respondents with the basic concepts of circularity and their willingness to participate in symbiotic value chains. Moreover, we examined the composition of the waste streams produced by those industries and proposed potential waste reuse business models and subsequent symbiotic clusters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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16 pages, 1025 KiB  
Article
Application of Calcified Structures in Fish as Indicators of Metal Exposure in Freshwater Ecosystems
by Vlatka Filipović Marijić, Tatjana Mijošek, Zrinka Dragun, Anika Retzmann, Andreas Zitek, Thomas Prohaska, Niko Bačić, Zuzana Redžović, Ivana Grgić, Nesrete Krasnići, Damir Valić, Damir Kapetanović, Jakov Žunić, Dušica Ivanković, Irena Vardić Smrzlić and Marijana Erk
Environments 2022, 9(2), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9020014 - 21 Jan 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3726
Abstract
Although there are common and well-established bioindicator organisms and tissues, there is still a need for reliable and sensitive bioindicators in aquatic environments. In the present pilot study, calcified structures in fish were applied as indicators of metal exposure in combination with commonly [...] Read more.
Although there are common and well-established bioindicator organisms and tissues, there is still a need for reliable and sensitive bioindicators in aquatic environments. In the present pilot study, calcified structures in fish were applied as indicators of metal exposure in combination with commonly used fish soft tissues and intestinal parasites, therefore comprising short- and long-term indicators. Patterns of metal accumulation and distribution in soft (muscle, liver) and hard (scales, otoliths) tissues of brown trout (Salmo trutta Linnaeus, 1758) and their intestinal parasites, acanthocephalans (Dentitruncus truttae Sinzar, 1955), from the Krka River influenced by industrial and municipal wastewaters were estimated and compared. Most elements had higher levels in acanthocephalans, scales and liver than muscle and otoliths, possibly reflecting differences in metal uptake routes, tissue function and metabolic activity. Despite the recorded differences in metal contents, all applied bioindicators reflected environmental conditions in a similar way, indicating higher levels of most elements in fish from the contaminated rather than from the reference site. Acanthocephalans were confirmed as sensitive bioindicators due to effective metal accumulation capacity, while the combination of soft and hard tissues provided extended temporal information on metal exposure. Wastewater impact was evidenced as moderate metal pollution by all applied indicators and pointed to present but also long-term disturbances in the Krka River and the importance of continuous monitoring and protective actions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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15 pages, 3353 KiB  
Article
Approaching Quietness as an Urban Sustainability Opportunity
by Aggelos Tsaligopoulos and Yiannis G. Matsinos
Environments 2022, 9(2), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9020012 - 18 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3723
Abstract
Quietness in an urban environment is vital for the well-being of city residents. Nevertheless, the ambiguity in the conceptualization of the terms noise and quietness as urban acoustic planning and design objectives, has resulted in two different approaches: the soundscape approach and the [...] Read more.
Quietness in an urban environment is vital for the well-being of city residents. Nevertheless, the ambiguity in the conceptualization of the terms noise and quietness as urban acoustic planning and design objectives, has resulted in two different approaches: the soundscape approach and the noise control approach. The main purpose of this research is to supplement the existing approaches by proposing a new ecological acoustics approach in order to identify quiet areas in the city of Mytilene (Lesbos Island, North Aegean, Greece). The use of the soundscape approach involved the participation of Mytilene’s residents and the collection of subjective and objective eligibility criteria. By means of Multi-Criteria Decision Making two urban green areas were highlighted as potential quiet areas. For the noise control approach, road noise maps have been created through a commercial noise mapping software, validated by trough measurements. As a result, two areas located in the outskirts of the city were highlighted. Finally, the novel ecological acoustics approach involved acoustic recordings and the extraction of the Composite Urban Quietness Index (CUQI). The outcome of this approach converged with the soundscape approach results. Quietness, as an urban acoustic planning and design goal, could be viewed as an opportunity for ecologically sustainable urban environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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20 pages, 3292 KiB  
Article
Tin and Antimony as Soil Pollutants along Railway Lines—A Case Study from North-Western Croatia
by Zvjezdana Stančić, Željka Fiket and Andreja Vuger
Environments 2022, 9(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9010010 - 08 Jan 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 4646
Abstract
The aim of this study was to determine the extent and patterns of antimony and tin contamination in soils along railway lines, as there are very few data in the literature on this subject. The study was conducted in north-western Croatia. Total and [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to determine the extent and patterns of antimony and tin contamination in soils along railway lines, as there are very few data in the literature on this subject. The study was conducted in north-western Croatia. Total and bioavailable concentrations of Sn and Sb were detected using high resolution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (HR-ICP-MS). The following results were obtained: total concentrations of Sb ranged from 0.98 to 52.0 mg/kg and of Sn from 3.04 mg/kg to 97.6 mg/kg. The soil samples showed pronounced Sb and Sn enrichment, up to 87 and 33 times the median value for European soils, respectively. In contrast to the total concentrations, the bioavailable concentrations showed relatively low values. For Sn, the percentage of total content ranged from 0.001 to 0.021%, while for Sb it ranged from 0.001 to 0.136%. Statistical data analysis suggests that the distribution of Sb and Sn in soils near railway lines is influenced by the functional use of the site, distance from the tracks, topography, age of the railway line, and also by soil properties such as soil texture, humus content, and soil pH. This study demonstrates that rail transport is a source of soil pollution with Sn and Sb. The origin of Sb and Sn enrichment is abrasion by brakes, rails, wheels, freight losses, exhaust gasses, etc. Both elements in soils along railway lines pose an environmental risk to humans, agricultural production, and wildlife, and therefore further detailed studies are required. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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16 pages, 2305 KiB  
Article
Bond to Bar Reinforcement of PET-Modified Concrete Containing Natural or Recycled Coarse Aggregates
by Joseph J. Assaad, Jamal M. Khatib and Rawan Ghanem
Environments 2022, 9(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9010008 - 06 Jan 2022
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3632
Abstract
The use of post-consumer plastics in concrete production is an ideal alternative to dispose of such wastes while reducing the environmental impacts in terms of pollution and consumption of natural resources and energy. This paper investigates different approaches (i.e., reducing water-to-cement ratio and [...] Read more.
The use of post-consumer plastics in concrete production is an ideal alternative to dispose of such wastes while reducing the environmental impacts in terms of pollution and consumption of natural resources and energy. This paper investigates different approaches (i.e., reducing water-to-cement ratio and incorporating steel fibers or polymeric latexes) that compensate for the detrimental effect of waste plastics on the drop in concrete mechanical properties including the bond to embedded steel bars. The polyethylene terephthalate (PET) wastes used in this study were derived from plastic bottles that were shredded into small pieces and added during concrete batching at 1.5% to 4.5%, by total volume. Test results showed that the concrete properties are degraded with PET additions, given their lightweight nature and poor characteristic strength compared to aggregate particles. The threshold PET volumetric rates are 4.5% and 3% for concrete made using natural or recycled aggregates, respectively. The reduction of w/c from 0.55 to 0.46 proved efficient to refine the matrix porosity and reinstate the concrete performance. The incorporation of 0.8% steel fibers (by volume) or 15% polymers (by mixing water) were appropriate to enhance the bridging phenomena and reduce the propagation of cracks during the pullout loading of steel bars. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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10 pages, 825 KiB  
Article
Environmental Policy for the Restriction on the Use of Plastic Products in Taiwan: Regulatory Measures, Implementation Status and COVID-19’s Impacts on Plastic Products Recycling
by Wen-Tien Tsai
Environments 2022, 9(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9010007 - 04 Jan 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 5008
Abstract
In response to international trends regarding the reduction in plastic waste (or plastic pollution), this work used the official statistics that were recently released, focusing on regulatory actions restricting the use of plastic products and/or the increase in recycling in Taiwan. In addition, [...] Read more.
In response to international trends regarding the reduction in plastic waste (or plastic pollution), this work used the official statistics that were recently released, focusing on regulatory actions restricting the use of plastic products and/or the increase in recycling in Taiwan. In addition, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on plastic waste generation and plastic products’ recycling were also addressed in the present study. The results showed that the plastic compositions in the garbage slightly increased in recent years, suggesting that the effect of restrictions on the use of plastic products in Taiwan was not significant, even though the regulatory measures have been implemented since 2002. However, chlorine contents in the garbage were significantly increased in 2020. The increase could be attributed to the fact that kitchen waste (containing salt), household waste containing disinfectant (e.g., chlorine dioxide, sodium hypochlorite) or PVC-made products were generated more during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the data also indicated that the monthly quantities of recycled plastic containers and other plastic products had no significant change since January 2020, especially in the outbreak period from May 2021 to July 2021. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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10 pages, 13945 KiB  
Article
Environmental Benefit of Alternative Binders in Construction Industry: Life Cycle Assessment
by Girts Bumanis, Aleksandrs Korjakins and Diana Bajare
Environments 2022, 9(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9010006 - 04 Jan 2022
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 4485
Abstract
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with Portland cement (PC) production is ranked as the highest among the construction materials and it is estimated that 8% of the worlds CO2 discharges is due to PC production. As an average, the production [...] Read more.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with Portland cement (PC) production is ranked as the highest among the construction materials and it is estimated that 8% of the worlds CO2 discharges is due to PC production. As an average, the production of PC clinker including calcination process generates 0.81 kg of carbon dioxide per one kg of cement. Hence, new approaches which limit the negative environmental impacts of cement production and are aimed at the development of advanced methodologies are introduced. Implementation of lower energy consumption materials in production, which could moderately substitute PC in binders, can be addressed as one of the probable methods in mitigating environmental risks. Therefore, alternative binders fit into the most promising solutions. Present research investigates the environmental impact of the building sector, if an alternative to PC binder is used. Life cycle assessment (LCA) was used in this research to assess the environmental impact of the alternative ternary gypsum-PC-pozzolan binder in the production of mortar, and the environmental benefits were calculated and compared to traditional cement-based building materials. Phosphogypsum was considered as a secondary raw material, as in the current approach it is collected in open stacks bringing environmental concerns. SimaPro LCA software with the Ecoinvent database was used for most of the calculation processes. Results indicate that with alternative binders up to 30% of energy can be saved and 57 wt.% of CO2 emissions can be reduced, bringing positive impact on the construction industries contribution to the environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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13 pages, 950 KiB  
Article
Evolution of Flood Defense Strategies: Toward Nature-Based Solutions
by Yen-Yu Chiu, Nidhi Raina and Hung-En Chen
Environments 2022, 9(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9010002 - 23 Dec 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 6676
Abstract
Flood defense strategies have evolved from hard-engineered systems to nature-based solutions that advocate for sustainability to meet today’s environmental, social, and economic goals. This paper aims to analyze the historical progression and evolutionary trends in flood control strategies that have led to nature-based [...] Read more.
Flood defense strategies have evolved from hard-engineered systems to nature-based solutions that advocate for sustainability to meet today’s environmental, social, and economic goals. This paper aims to analyze the historical progression and evolutionary trends in flood control strategies that have led to nature-based solutions. An evaluative literature review was conducted to narrate the evolution of nature-based flood management approaches for different flood types, river floods, coastal floods, and stormwater run-offs. The analysis reflected three evolutionary trends: the transformation of hard measures to soft measures; secondly, the increase in society’s attention to ecosystems and their services; and, finally, divergence from single-function solutions to multi-function solutions. However, continuous monitoring and evaluation of the previous projects and adapting to the lessons learned are the key to progress towards sustainable flood management strategies and their societal acceptance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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9 pages, 597 KiB  
Article
Microplastic Contamination in Human Stools, Foods, and Drinking Water Associated with Indonesian Coastal Population
by Arif Luqman, Husna Nugrahapraja, Ruri Agung Wahyuono, Izzatul Islami, Muhammad Husain Haekal, Yasri Fardiansyah, Balqis Qonita Putri, Fahmi Ikhlasul Amalludin, Elsalisa Ainur Rofiqa, Friedrich Götz and Anjar Tri Wibowo
Environments 2021, 8(12), 138; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8120138 - 16 Dec 2021
Cited by 50 | Viewed by 9079
Abstract
Approximately 381 million tons of plastic are produced globally every year, and the majority of it ends up as pollutants. In the environment, plastic waste is fragmented into microplastic particles less than 5 mm in size; owing to their small size, durability, and [...] Read more.
Approximately 381 million tons of plastic are produced globally every year, and the majority of it ends up as pollutants. In the environment, plastic waste is fragmented into microplastic particles less than 5 mm in size; owing to their small size, durability, and abundance, they can easily be dispersed, incorporated into the food chains, and enter the human body. The extent of microplastic exposure in the human body has become a major concern in many countries, including in Indonesia, the second largest plastic waste contributor in the world. Here, we report the detection of microplastics in human stools collected from a fisherman community in the coastal area of Surabaya, Indonesia. Microplastics were found in more than 50% of samples analyzed with a concentration ranging from 3.33 to 13.99 µg of microplastic per gram of feces (µg/g). HDPE was observed as the most prevalent type of microplastic, with an average concentration of 9.195 µg/g in positive samples. Different types of microplastics were also detected in seafood, staple foods, drinking water, table salts, and toothpaste, which were regularly used and consumed by the study participants. Results from this preliminary study indicate widespread contamination of microplastic in the human body and in consumables associated with the coastal populations of Indonesia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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12 pages, 9431 KiB  
Article
NOx and CO Fluctuations in a Busy Street Canyon
by Peter Brimblecombe, Meng-Yuan Chu, Chun-Ho Liu and Zhi Ning
Environments 2021, 8(12), 137; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8120137 - 15 Dec 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3812
Abstract
Busy street canyons can have a large flow of vehicles and reduced air exchange and wind speeds at street level, exposing pedestrians to high pollutant concentrations. The airflow tended to move with vehicles along the canyon and the 1-s concentrations of NO, NO [...] Read more.
Busy street canyons can have a large flow of vehicles and reduced air exchange and wind speeds at street level, exposing pedestrians to high pollutant concentrations. The airflow tended to move with vehicles along the canyon and the 1-s concentrations of NO, NO2 and CO were highly skewed close to the road and more normally distributed at sensors some metres above the road. The pollutants were more autocorrelated at these elevated sensors, suggesting a less variable concentration away from traffic in the areas of low turbulence. The kerbside concentrations also showed cyclic changes approximating nearby traffic signal timing. The cross-correlation between the concentration measurements suggested that the variation moved at vehicle speed along the canyon, but slower vertically. The concentrations of NOx and CO were slightly higher at wind speeds of under a metre per second. The local ozone concentrations had little effect on the proportion of NOx present as NO2. Pedestrians on the roadside would be unlikely to exceed the USEPA hourly guideline value for NO2 of 100 ppb. Across the campaign period, 100 individual minutes exceeded the guidelines, though the effect of short-term, high-concentration exposures is not well understood. Tram stops at the carriageway divider are places where longer exposures to higher levels of traffic-associated pollutants are possible. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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14 pages, 1989 KiB  
Article
Ammonia Recovery from Digestate Using Gas-Permeable Membranes: A Pilot-Scale Study
by Berta Riaño, Beatriz Molinuevo-Salces, Matías B. Vanotti and María Cruz García-González
Environments 2021, 8(12), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8120133 - 25 Nov 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3361
Abstract
The reduction and recovery of nitrogen (N) from anaerobically digested manure (digestate) is desirable to mitigate N-related emissions, mainly ammonia and nitrate, derived from digestate land application in nutrient-saturated zones. This work reports the results of a gas-permeable membrane (GPM) pilot-scale plant to [...] Read more.
The reduction and recovery of nitrogen (N) from anaerobically digested manure (digestate) is desirable to mitigate N-related emissions, mainly ammonia and nitrate, derived from digestate land application in nutrient-saturated zones. This work reports the results of a gas-permeable membrane (GPM) pilot-scale plant to recover ammonia from digestate in the framework of the EU project Ammonia Trapping. The total ammonia nitrogen (TAN) concentration in digestate was reduced by 34.2% on average (range 9.4–57.4%). The recovery of TAN in the trapping solution in the form of a (NH4)2SO4 solution averaged 55.3% of the removed TAN, with a TAN recovery rate of 16.2 g N m−2 d−1 (range between 14.5 and 21.0 g N m−2 d−1). The TAN concentration in the trapping solution achieved a value of up to 35,000 mg N L−1. The frequent change of the trapping solution has been proven as an efficient strategy to improve the overall performance of the GPM technology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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18 pages, 3231 KiB  
Article
Occurrence of P. aeruginosa in Water Intended for Human Consumption and in Swimming Pool Water
by Darija Vukić Lušić, Nerma Maestro, Arijana Cenov, Dražen Lušić, Katarina Smolčić, Sonja Tolić, Daniel Maestro, Damir Kapetanović, Sandra Marinac-Pupavac, Dijana Tomić Linšak, Željko Linšak and Marin Glad
Environments 2021, 8(12), 132; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8120132 - 24 Nov 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 4656
Abstract
Considering the fact that water is a basic need of every living being, it is important to ensure its safety. In this work, the data on the presence of the opportunistic pathogen P. aeruginosa in drinking water (n = 4171) as well [...] Read more.
Considering the fact that water is a basic need of every living being, it is important to ensure its safety. In this work, the data on the presence of the opportunistic pathogen P. aeruginosa in drinking water (n = 4171) as well as in pool water (n = 5059) in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County in Croatia in the five-year period (2016–2020) were analysed. In addition, the national criteria were compared with those of neighboring countries and worldwide. The proportion of P. aeruginosa-positive samples was similar for drinking water (3.9%) and pool water (4.6%). The prevalence of this bacterium was most pronounced in the warmer season. P. aeruginosa-positive drinking water samples were mostly collected during building commissioning, while pool samples were from entertainment and spa/hydromassage pools. Outdoor pools showed a higher percentage of positive samples than indoor pools, as well as the pools filled with freshwater rather than seawater. The highest P. aeruginosa load was found in rehabilitation pools. Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro are countries that have included P. aeruginosa in their national regulations as an indicator of the safety of water for human consumption as well as for bottled water, while Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have limited this requirement to bottled water only. In the case of swimming pool water, this parameter is mandatory in all countries considered in this study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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21 pages, 2162 KiB  
Article
Long-Term Changes in Cork Oak and Holm Oak Patches Connectivity. The Algarve, Portugal, a Mediterranean Landscape Case Study
by Nuno de Santos Loureiro and Maria Jacinta Fernandes
Environments 2021, 8(12), 131; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8120131 - 23 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3045
Abstract
Structural connectivity can be inferred by several landscape metrics that appear to be relevant for characterizing how landscapes constrain or favor the presence and movement of animal species at the level of the regional landscape. Trends of change can be estimated trough spatial [...] Read more.
Structural connectivity can be inferred by several landscape metrics that appear to be relevant for characterizing how landscapes constrain or favor the presence and movement of animal species at the level of the regional landscape. Trends of change can be estimated trough spatial time-series analysis. The use of historical maps increases the time span of analysis of the landscape dynamic, relative to the use of remote sensing-related information. Supported by GIS, in this study, a framework for the analyses of the long-term trends of change in the connectivity of the Algarve regional landscape was used to seize the possibility of expanding the span of the spatial time series by integrating an unpublished agricultural and forest map from the turn of the 19th to the 20th century with another historical map and two recent maps. The total area covered by cork and holm oak-related community patches and their connectivity increased over the 20th century and stabilized in the 21st century. A reflection on Portuguese contemporary land-cover policies is urged, to face the sustainable planning and management challenges concerning biodiversity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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14 pages, 3064 KiB  
Article
The Influence of Microplastics from Ground Tyres on the Acute, Subchronical Toxicity and Microbial Respiration of Soil
by Markéta Šourková, Dana Adamcová and Magdalena Daria Vaverková
Environments 2021, 8(11), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8110128 - 18 Nov 2021
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 4297
Abstract
As a rubber annular coat of rim wheels, tyres are inevitable parts of all vehicles in modern times. As to their composition, however, they represent a risk for the environment. During the use of tyres, tyre tread patterns become abraded, which results in [...] Read more.
As a rubber annular coat of rim wheels, tyres are inevitable parts of all vehicles in modern times. As to their composition, however, they represent a risk for the environment. During the use of tyres, tyre tread patterns become abraded, which results in its gradual wear and necessary re- placement. These micro and nano particles are then gradually extracted into the environment, namely soils and waters. Our research study was focused on the assessment of subchronical phytotoxicity (pot trial with a mixture of substrate and predetermined ratio of abrasion products lasting 28 days) and biological tests (testing phytotoxicity of leaches with predetermined ratio of abrasion products on Petri dishes). The biological tests were comprised two plant species—seeds of white mustard (Sinapis alba L.) and garden cress (Lepidium sativum L.). In the mixtures of substrate with determined shares of abrasion products (5%, 25%, 50% and 75%), respiration of CO2 was also established by means of soil microbial respiration (Solvita CO2-Burst). Substrates with 5% and 25% abrasion proportions showed increased biological activity as well as increased CO2-C emissions. The increasing share of abrasion products resulted in decreasing biological activity and decreasing CO2-C emissions. The results of subchronical phytotoxicity ranged from 62% to 94% with values below 90% indicating substrate phytotoxicity. The results of biological tests focused on the phytotoxicity of tested samples exhibiting values from 35% to 70% with respect to the germination index with values below 66% indicating the phytotoxicity of tyre abrasion products. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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12 pages, 1457 KiB  
Article
Leaching Potential of Phosphite Fertilizer in Sandy Soils of the Southern Coastal Plain, USA
by Ariel A. Szogi, Paul D. Shumaker, Eric D. Billman and Philip J. Bauer
Environments 2021, 8(11), 126; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8110126 - 16 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3160
Abstract
Novel biotechnology on transgenic plants capable of metabolizing phosphite (Phi), a reduced form of P, could improve the effectiveness of P fertilizers and reduce the P footprint in agriculture with the benefit of suppressing weed growth. However, potassium Phi (K-Phi) salts used as [...] Read more.
Novel biotechnology on transgenic plants capable of metabolizing phosphite (Phi), a reduced form of P, could improve the effectiveness of P fertilizers and reduce the P footprint in agriculture with the benefit of suppressing weed growth. However, potassium Phi (K-Phi) salts used as fertilizer are highly soluble in water. At the same time, sandy soils of the Southern Coastal Plain are vulnerable to leaching losses resulting from long-term Pi fertilizer application. We performed a replicated leaching trial using five soil materials that included three surface and two subsurface layers from cultivated topsoil (Ap horizon) with contrasting Phi and Pi sorption capacities. Each soil received three treatments K-Phi at rates 0 (control), 24, and 49 kg P ha−1 and leached twice with de-ionized water. All K-Phi-treated soils leached Phi except for the controls. A phosphorus saturation ratio (PSR) calculated from P, Al, and Fe in acid extracts indicated increasing environmental risk of Phi leaching in soils with lower Phi and Pi sorption capacities at rising rates of applied K-Phi. Because plants rapidly absorb Phi, further studies on the environmental impact of K-Phi fertilizer use should include the interaction of plants with soil properties and soil microbial activity at optimal Phi application rates for growing transgenic plants able to use Phi as a nutrient source. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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22 pages, 1766 KiB  
Article
Exploring the Influence of Industrial and Climatic Variables on Communities of Benthic Macroinvertebrates Collected in Streams and Lakes in Canada’s Oil Sands Region
by Tim J. Arciszewski
Environments 2021, 8(11), 123; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8110123 - 16 Nov 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3521
Abstract
Identifying and tracking the influence of industrial activities on streams and lakes is a priority for monitoring in Canada’s oil sands region (OSR). While differences in indicators are often found in waterbodies adjacent to mining facilities, the confounding influence of natural exposures to [...] Read more.
Identifying and tracking the influence of industrial activities on streams and lakes is a priority for monitoring in Canada’s oil sands region (OSR). While differences in indicators are often found in waterbodies adjacent to mining facilities, the confounding influence of natural exposures to bitumen and other stressors can affect the identification of industrial effects. However, recent work suggests metrics of industrial activity at individual facilities, including production and fuel consumption, may be used in site-specific analyses to identify influence of the industry as a whole as well as individual operations. This study further examined the potential relationships between industrial and climatic variables on benthic communities from 13 streams and 4 lakes using publicly available data from the minable region and the Elastic Net (EN) variable selection technique. From the full set of possible industrial and climate variables, the EN commonly identified the negative influence of plant and fuel use of petroleum coke at the Suncor Basemine on benthic communities in streams and lakes. The fuel/plant use of petroleum coke at Suncor likely reflects the emission and regional deposition of delayed coke fly ash. Among the other industrial variables, crude bitumen production at Syncrude Mildred Lake and other facilities, steam injection rates, and petroleum coke stockpiling were also selected for some benthic invertebrate indices at some sites. Land disturbance metrics were also occasionally selected, but the analyses largely support the predominant influence of industrial facilities via (inferred) atmospheric pathways. While climate variables were also commonly selected by EN and follow-up work is needed, this study suggests that integrating industrial performance data into analyses of biota using a site-specific approach may have broad applicability in environmental monitoring in the OSR. More specifically, the approach used here may both resolve the long-standing challenge of natural confounding influences on monitoring the status of streams in the OSR and track the influence of industrial activities in biota below critical effect sizes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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12 pages, 2169 KiB  
Article
Toxic Effects of Thallium on Biological Indicators of Haplic Chernozem Health: A Case Study
by Sergey Kolesnikov, Tatiana Minnikova, Tatiana Minkina, Vishnu D. Rajput, Natalya Tsepina, Kamil Kazeev, Alexander Zhadobin, Elena Nevedomaya, Tigran Ter-Misakyants, Yulia Akimenko, Saglara Mandzhieva, Svetlana Sushkova, Anuj Ranjan, Ilgiz Asylbaev, Victoria Popova and Alena Tymoshenko
Environments 2021, 8(11), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8110119 - 03 Nov 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3686
Abstract
Thallium (Tl) was introduced into Haplic Chernozem in the amounts of 3, 30, and 300 mg/kg, and biological indicators were observed at 10, 30, and 90 days after incubation in the laboratory experiment. An increase in biological activities; i.e., the total number of [...] Read more.
Thallium (Tl) was introduced into Haplic Chernozem in the amounts of 3, 30, and 300 mg/kg, and biological indicators were observed at 10, 30, and 90 days after incubation in the laboratory experiment. An increase in biological activities; i.e., the total number of bacteria, Azotobacter spp. abundance, enzymes (catalase, dehydrogenases), and phytotoxic indicators (germination rate of radish) after 30 days of Tl exposure were noted. The total number of bacteria and Azotobacter spp. abundance, enzyme activity, and phytotoxicity were more sensitive (16–76%) and informative (12–65%) indicators compared to the control, respectively. Integral biological indicators of soil state (IIBS) noted at 10, 30, and 90 days decreased at a dose of 30 and 300 mg/kg by 13–43% in relation to the control. An increase in Tl concentration and duration of exposure (up to 90 days) inhibited biological properties and caused ecotoxicological effects, respectively. We concluded that the use of individual indicators served as an indicator of the state of the soil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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18 pages, 890 KiB  
Article
Stakeholders’ Perceptions on Agricultural Land-Use Change, and Associated Factors, in Nigeria
by Eberechukwu Johnpaul Ihemezie and Martin Dallimer
Environments 2021, 8(11), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8110113 - 27 Oct 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2880
Abstract
Agricultural Land-Use Change (ALUC) is a major driver of global environmental change, not least via its direct impact on the sustainability and resilience of the rural economy. Its drivers are complex and have remained contentious, necessitating further empirical study. This study aims to [...] Read more.
Agricultural Land-Use Change (ALUC) is a major driver of global environmental change, not least via its direct impact on the sustainability and resilience of the rural economy. Its drivers are complex and have remained contentious, necessitating further empirical study. This study aims to derive context-specific evidence on the driving factors and effects of ALUC from different stakeholders’ perceptions. We carried out household surveys and participatory rural appraisal across Benue State, Nigeria. ALUC has economic, social, ecological, and institutional implications for farmers and on agricultural productivity. Farmers perceived that the main factors driving ALUC were land conflict, government land-use policies and infrastructural development. Stakeholders’ perceptions revealed that although the factors driving ALUC are diverse in nature, they are somewhat embedded within the broader issue of land-use conflict, which has led to cropland abandonment, clearing of forest vegetation, soil degradation, changes from large scale to subsistence farming, and farmers’ eventual loss of interest in agriculture. This suggest that the drivers and implications of ALUC go beyond simple changes to the extent of land used for agriculture, but also incorporates other regional socio-ecological changes. Our study highlights the importance of stakeholders’ perceptions in understanding complex socio-ecological issues if we are to provide clear direction into areas where policy interventions are most needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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18 pages, 17719 KiB  
Article
A Case Study on Metal Contamination in Water and Sediment near a Coal Thermal Power Plant on the Eastern Coast of Bangladesh
by Md. Solaiman Hossain, Md. Kawser Ahmed, Eurida Liyana, Md. Shahadat Hossain, Yeasmin Nahar Jolly, M. Jamiul Kabir, Shirin Akter and M. Safiur Rahman
Environments 2021, 8(10), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8100108 - 15 Oct 2021
Cited by 28 | Viewed by 4783
Abstract
This study has evaluated the potential ecological risk and human health risk for the contamination of nine elements (Cu, Cr, Mn, Zn, As, Pb, Co, Fe, and Sr) in water and sediment samples in two seasons, i.e., before and after rainy season, by [...] Read more.
This study has evaluated the potential ecological risk and human health risk for the contamination of nine elements (Cu, Cr, Mn, Zn, As, Pb, Co, Fe, and Sr) in water and sediment samples in two seasons, i.e., before and after rainy season, by calculating several pollution indices such as pollution load index (PLI), potential ecological risk (PER), and target hazard quotient (THQ). Samples were analyzed for elemental concentration using energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) spectrometry. This study found that waters in the Kutubdia channel are safe and standard for aquatic organisms. In addition, the study area’s elemental concentration in water and sediments is still safe but moderately enriched with Zn and Cu. The elemental concentration in water was observed to be high in the pre-monsoon season and vice versa in the sediment study. The result also reveals no potential ecological risk (PER < 4) in the study site. However, the health risk index showed a noncarcinogenic risk (THQ > 1) for children and adults regarding the inhalation process where manganese was dominant. Apart from this, the pollution source was also identified by multivariate statistical analysis, including cluster analysis (CA) and principal component analysis (PCA)—and a natural pollution source prevalent was found. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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20 pages, 14010 KiB  
Article
Economic and Life Cycle Analysis of Passive and Active Monitoring of Ozone for Forest Protection
by Elisa Carrari, Alessandra De Marco, Andrea Laschi, Ovidiu Badea, Laurence Dalstein-Richier, Silvano Fares, Stefan Leca, Enrico Marchi, Pierre Sicard, Ionel Popa, Yasutomo Hoshika, Alessandro Materassi, Giacomo Pallante, Diana Pitar and Elena Paoletti
Environments 2021, 8(10), 104; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8100104 - 09 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3222
Abstract
At forest sites, phytotoxic tropospheric ozone (O3) can be monitored with continuously operating, active monitors (AM) or passive, cumulative samplers (PM). For the first time, we present evidence that the sustainability of active monitoring is better than that of passive sensors, [...] Read more.
At forest sites, phytotoxic tropospheric ozone (O3) can be monitored with continuously operating, active monitors (AM) or passive, cumulative samplers (PM). For the first time, we present evidence that the sustainability of active monitoring is better than that of passive sensors, as the environmental, economic, and social costs are usually lower in the former than in the latter. By using data collected in the field, environmental, social, and economic costs were analyzed. The study considered monitoring sites at three distances from a control station in Italy (30, 400, and 750 km), two forest types (deciduous and Mediterranean evergreen), and three time windows (5, 10, and 20 years of monitoring). AM resulted in more convenience than PM, even after 5 years, in terms of O3 depletion, global warming, and photochemical O3 creation potential, suggesting that passive monitoring of ozone is not environmentally sustainable, especially for long time periods. AM led to savings ranging from a minimum of EUR 9650 in 5 years up to EUR 94,796 in 20 years in evergreen forests. The resulting social cost of PM was always higher than that of AM. The present evaluation will help in the decision process for the set-up of long-term forest monitoring sites dedicated to the protection of forests from O3. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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11 pages, 4021 KiB  
Article
Antifungal Activity of Earthworm Coelomic Fluid Obtained from Eisenia andrei, Dendrobaena veneta and Allolobophora chlorotica on Six Species of Phytopathogenic Fungi
by Sandra Ečimović, Karolina Vrandečić, Martina Kujavec, Martina Žulj, Jasenka Ćosić and Mirna Velki
Environments 2021, 8(10), 102; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8100102 - 03 Oct 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3455
Abstract
The functioning of soil ecosystems greatly depends on the interactions occurring between soil biota communities. It is well known that earthworms are an important soil component that substantially affects its function, including their meaningful impact on the development of different phytopathogenic soil fungi. [...] Read more.
The functioning of soil ecosystems greatly depends on the interactions occurring between soil biota communities. It is well known that earthworms are an important soil component that substantially affects its function, including their meaningful impact on the development of different phytopathogenic soil fungi. Phytopathogenic fungi are responsible for crop disease and cause great economic damage. It has previously been established that earthworms’ coelomic fluid can suppress the growth of phytopathogenic fungi, but the exact molecular mechanism is unknown. The present study aimed at broadening the proof of this observed phenomenon by investigating the effects of the coelomic fluid extract of three different earthworm species (Eisenia andrei, Dendrobaena veneta and Allolobophora chlorotica) on the growth of six different phytopathogenic fungi species (Berkeleyomyces basicola, Fusarium culmorum, Globisporangium irregulare, Rhizoctonia solani, Macrophomina phaseolina, and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum). Coelomic fluid extract was obtained by electrostimulation or usage of extraction buffer (only in case of A. chlorotica) and prepared in three different concentrations by diluting the obtained coelomic fluid with physiological saline. The coelomic fluid extract of the three investigated earthworm species had an inhibitory effect on the growth of all six phytopathogenic fungi species. The greatest inhibitory effect was achieved with the E. andrei coelomic fluid extract reducing the growth of R. solani fungi. The findings of this research confirm the antifungal activity of coelomic fluid obtained from earthworm species belonging to different ecological categories and may be of potential use in crop protection against phytopathogenic fungi. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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17 pages, 914 KiB  
Article
Factors for Implementation of Circular Economy in Firms in COVID-19 Pandemic Times: The Case of Peru
by Aldo Alvarez-Risco, Alfredo Estrada-Merino, Marc A. Rosen, Annia Vargas-Herrera and Shyla Del-Aguila-Arcentales
Environments 2021, 8(9), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8090095 - 16 Sep 2021
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 5031
Abstract
The circular economy can contribute to the eco-efficient use of resources. Firms can obtain relevant benefits if they implement a circular economy. In Peru, the circular economy would create benefits, but it is not fully clear what factors explain the acceptance of firms [...] Read more.
The circular economy can contribute to the eco-efficient use of resources. Firms can obtain relevant benefits if they implement a circular economy. In Peru, the circular economy would create benefits, but it is not fully clear what factors explain the acceptance of firms of implementing a circular economy. Following the theory of planned behavior, the current research assesses the influence of attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioral norms, intentions, and pressures on behaviors towards the circular economy. A total of 71 medium-size firms based in Peru participated in an online survey. Six questions were focused on general information, and forty-seven questions evaluated the circular economy behavior of firms. A partial least square structural equation modeling technical analysis was used. It was found that attitudes (0.144), subjective norms (0.133), and perceived behavioral control (0.578) had a positive influence on intentions; also, perceived behavioral control (0.461) had a positive influence on behaviors towards the circular economy. Finally, pressures had a positive influence (0.162) on behaviors towards the circular economy. The model explained 64.3% of the behaviors towards the circular economy. The outcomes of the bootstrapping test were used to evaluate if the path coefficients are significant. This study showed that attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioral norms, intentions, and pressures explained circular economy behaviors. This information can help firms develop strategies to move forward a circular economy and provide governments information about the current situation of circular economy implementation to generate new norms and strategies for more implementation of circular economy measures in enterprises. The novelty is based on using the PLS-SEM technique. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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15 pages, 1053 KiB  
Review
Soil Remediation: Towards a Resilient and Adaptive Approach to Deal with the Ever-Changing Environmental Challenges
by Martina Grifoni, Elisabetta Franchi, Danilo Fusini, Marco Vocciante, Meri Barbafieri, Francesca Pedron, Irene Rosellini and Gianniantonio Petruzzelli
Environments 2022, 9(2), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9020018 - 25 Jan 2022
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 8371
Abstract
Pollution from numerous contaminants due to many anthropogenic activities affects soils quality. Industrialized countries have many contaminated sites; their remediation is a priority in environmental legislation. The aim of this overview is to consider the evolution of soil remediation from consolidated invasive technologies [...] Read more.
Pollution from numerous contaminants due to many anthropogenic activities affects soils quality. Industrialized countries have many contaminated sites; their remediation is a priority in environmental legislation. The aim of this overview is to consider the evolution of soil remediation from consolidated invasive technologies to environmentally friendly green strategies. The selection of technology is no longer exclusively based on eliminating the source of pollution but aims at remediation, which includes the recovery of soil quality. “Green remediation” appears to be the key to addressing the issue of remediation of contaminated sites as it focuses on environmental quality, including the preservation of the environment. Further developments in green remediation reflect the aim of promoting clean-up strategies that also address the effects of climate change. Sustainable and resilient remediation faces the environmental challenge of achieving targets while reducing the environmental damage caused by clean-up interventions and must involve an awareness that social systems and environmental systems are closely connected. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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24 pages, 1328 KiB  
Review
A Review about Microalgae Wastewater Treatment for Bioremediation and Biomass Production—A New Challenge for Europe
by Eugenio Geremia, Maddalena Ripa, Claudio Marcello Catone and Sergio Ulgiati
Environments 2021, 8(12), 136; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8120136 - 09 Dec 2021
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 9455
Abstract
Microalgae have received much attention in the last few years. Their use is being extended to different fields of application and technologies, such as food, animal feed, and production of valuable polymers. Additionally, there is interest in using microalgae for removal of nutrients [...] Read more.
Microalgae have received much attention in the last few years. Their use is being extended to different fields of application and technologies, such as food, animal feed, and production of valuable polymers. Additionally, there is interest in using microalgae for removal of nutrients from wastewater. Wastewater treatment with microalgae allows for a reduction in the main chemicals responsible for eutrophication (nitrogen and phosphate), the reduction of organic substrates (by decreasing parameters such as BOD and COD) and the removal of other substances such as heavy metals and pharmaceuticals. By selecting and reviewing 202 articles published in Scopus between 1992 and 2020, some aspects such as the feasibility of microalgae cultivation on wastewater and potential bioremediation have been investigated and evaluated. In this review, particular emphasis was placed on the different types of wastewaters on which the growth of microalgae is possible, the achievable bioremediation and the factors that make large-scale microalgae treatment feasible. The results indicated that the microalgae are able to grow on wastewater and carry out effective bioremediation. Furthermore, single-step treatment with mixotrophic microalgae could represent a valid alternative to conventional processes. The main bottlenecks are the large-scale feasibility and costs associated with biomass harvesting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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23 pages, 10281 KiB  
Review
Sand Trapping Fences as a Nature-Based Solution for Coastal Protection: An International Review with a Focus on Installations in Germany
by Christiane Eichmanns, Simone Lechthaler, Wiebke Zander, Mariana Vélez Pérez, Holger Blum, Frank Thorenz and Holger Schüttrumpf
Environments 2021, 8(12), 135; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8120135 - 08 Dec 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 6049
Abstract
Sand trapping fences are a widely used nature-based solution to initiate dune toe growth along sandy shorelines for coastal protection. At present, the construction of sand trapping fences is based on empirical knowledge, since only a few scientific studies investigating their efficiency exist. [...] Read more.
Sand trapping fences are a widely used nature-based solution to initiate dune toe growth along sandy shorelines for coastal protection. At present, the construction of sand trapping fences is based on empirical knowledge, since only a few scientific studies investigating their efficiency exist. However, the restoration and maintenance of beach-dune systems along the coast requires knowledge of the interaction between the beach-dune system and the sand trapping fences to provide guidance for coastal managers on how and where to install the fences. First, this review gives an overview of the typical aerodynamic and morphodynamic conditions around a single porous fence and the influence of various fence height and porosity values to understand the physical processes during dune establishment. Second, different approaches for evaluating the efficiency of sand trapping fences to trap sediment are described. This review then highlights significant differences between sand trapping fence configurations, nationally as well as internationally, regarding the arrangement, the materials used, and the height and porosity. In summary, it is crucial to enable an intensive exchange among the respective coastal authorities in order to create uniform or transferable guidelines taking local conditions into account, and thus work collaboratively on the idea of sand trapping fences as a nature-based solution in coastal areas worldwide. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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16 pages, 990 KiB  
Review
Phytoremediation: The Sustainable Strategy for Improving Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality
by Heayyean Lee, Ziwoo Jun and Zahra Zahra
Environments 2021, 8(11), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8110118 - 02 Nov 2021
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 7740
Abstract
Most of the world’s population is exposed to highly polluted air conditions exceeding the WHO limits, causing various human diseases that lead towards increased morbidity as well as mortality. Expenditures on air purification and costs spent on the related health issues are rapidly [...] Read more.
Most of the world’s population is exposed to highly polluted air conditions exceeding the WHO limits, causing various human diseases that lead towards increased morbidity as well as mortality. Expenditures on air purification and costs spent on the related health issues are rapidly increasing. To overcome this burden, plants are potential candidates to remove pollutants through diverse biological mechanisms involving accumulation, immobilization, volatilization, and degradation. This eco-friendly, cost-effective, and non-invasive method is considered as a complementary or alternative tool compared to engineering-based remediation techniques. Various plant species remove indoor and outdoor air pollutants, depending on their morphology, growth condition, and microbial communities. Hence, appropriate plant selection with optimized growth conditions can enhance the remediation capacity significantly. Furthermore, suitable supplementary treatments, or finding the best combination junction with other methods, can optimize the phytoremediation process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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14 pages, 3394 KiB  
Perspective
Two Birds with One Stone: Bioplastics and Food Waste Anaerobic Co-Digestion
by Sarah Kakadellis, Po-Heng Lee and Zoe M. Harris
Environments 2022, 9(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9010009 - 07 Jan 2022
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 5177
Abstract
Following the BBC’s Blue Planet II nature documentary series on marine ecosystems, plastic packaging has come under public fire, with consumers demanding greener alternatives. The biodegradable properties of some bioplastics have offered a potential solution to the global challenge of plastic pollution, while [...] Read more.
Following the BBC’s Blue Planet II nature documentary series on marine ecosystems, plastic packaging has come under public fire, with consumers demanding greener alternatives. The biodegradable properties of some bioplastics have offered a potential solution to the global challenge of plastic pollution, while enabling the capture of food waste through anaerobic digestion as a circular and energy-positive waste treatment strategy. However, despite their increasing popularity, currently bioplastics are being tested in environments that do not reflect real-life waste management scenarios. Bioplastics find their most useful, meaningful and environmentally-sound application in food packaging—why is there so little interest in addressing their anaerobic co-digestion with food waste? Here, we provide a set of recommendations to ensure future studies on bioplastic end-of-life are fit for purpose. This perspective makes the link between the environmental sustainability of bioplastics and the role of food waste anaerobic digestion as we move towards an integrated food–energy–water–waste nexus. It shines light on a novel outlook in the field of bioplastic waste management while uncovering the complexity of a successful path forward. Ultimately, this research strives to ensure that the promotion of bioplastics within a circular economy framework is supported across waste collection and treatment stages. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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