Perspectives on Environment and Human Health

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 July 2020) | Viewed by 27406

Special Issue Editors


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Departamento de Ciências da Terra, Universidade do Minho, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal
Interests: environmental geochemistry and health; human exposure; health risk assessment; human biomonitoring; data analysis; geostatistics

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Guest Editor

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Guest Editor
Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Northumbria University, Ellison Building, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK
Interests: environmental geochemistry and health; biomonitoring; risk assessment

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Guest Editor
College of Life and Environmental Science, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4RJ, UK
Interests: interaction between health and environment; environmental iodine and the iodine deficiency disorders; pollution from a health perspective; public health and health protection
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The broad aim of this Special Issue of Geosciences is to bring together concerted studies focusing on the understanding of interactions between humans, their health, and their environment.

We welcome papers that are inter- and/or multidisciplinary and detail joint projects, report new work, or offer reviews of joint health-environment interactions. We are keen to cover a broad range of related topics, such as: sociological perspectives on environmental issues, exploring materials-cell interactions, examining risk perception, assessing human exposure and health risk.

The environment, built or natural, can affect human health, often as a result of human-triggered changes, affected by the relevant social and cultural environment.

Population groups who may be particularly exposed or susceptible to the effects of environmental exposures include those who work with and are exposed to agricultural chemicals, children who receive proportionately larger doses of environmental toxins than adults, and workers and their communities exposed to toxic materials encountered during hazardous waste operations, mining, working in polluted environments, and the like. Also, certain health conditions which affect specific sections of the population, such as cervical cancer, breast cancer, certain autoimmune diseases, endometriosis, and osteoporosis, in females, may be environmentally mediated. Males too are not immune from toxic effects on their reproductive organs. The environment is also likely to contribute to the current, global increase in chronic, non-infectious diseases which are often dismissed as lifestyle issues.

Public perceptions and attitudes towards risk, risk reduction, and risk communication are central to the “new” public health. There is an increasing pressure on both public health and health promotion bodies to avert risks of disease, particularly in high risk populations or where large populations may be exposed. It is therefore imperative to know more about environmental factors influencing human health. With this knowledge individuals and communities can make better decisions in and for their personal lives, and governments and regulatory agencies can improve their actions to minimise the adverse effects on their populations.

Please contact the special issue editors if you would like to discuss your work and its relevance to this special edition.

Dr. Paula Marinho Reis
Prof. Andrew S Hursthouse
Prof. Jane A. Entwistle
Dr. Alex G Stewart
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • Environmental geochemistry
  • Public health
  • Risk assessment
  • Biomonitoring
  • Risk management
  • Social determinants

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Editorial

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4 pages, 189 KiB  
Editorial
Perspectives on Environment and Human Health: An Editorial
by Paula Marinho-Reis, Jane A. Entwistle, Andrew S. Hursthouse and Alex G. Stewart
Geosciences 2022, 12(11), 408; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences12110408 - 5 Nov 2022
Viewed by 1012
Abstract
Human health and wellbeing are intimately linked to the state of the environment [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Perspectives on Environment and Human Health)

Research

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18 pages, 1003 KiB  
Article
Population Health Screening after Environmental Pollution
by Alex G. Stewart and Ewan Wilkinson
Geosciences 2020, 10(12), 477; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10120477 - 24 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2050
Abstract
Following environmental pollution exposure, calls to screen the population for disease or disease markers are often made. Population screening is a cross-sectional review of a population to find latent cases or biomarkers of disease that indicate the possibility of disease development; it differs [...] Read more.
Following environmental pollution exposure, calls to screen the population for disease or disease markers are often made. Population screening is a cross-sectional review of a population to find latent cases or biomarkers of disease that indicate the possibility of disease development; it differs from environmental screening or an epidemiological survey. Recognized standard approaches have been developed over 60 years to ensure quality and effectiveness in complex programs. We surveyed the literature for papers on health screening following environmental exposures and checked them for reference to accepted criteria such as those of Wilson and Jungner. We applied these criteria to three situations covering source/hazard (arsenic contaminated land), pathway/exposure (radiation release), and receptor/disease (lead poisoning). We identified 36 relevant papers. Although across the papers the whole range of criteria were addressed, no paper or program utilized recognized criteria. Issues and gaps identified included limited strategic approaches, lack of treatment, environmental prevention being seen as the screening outcome instead of treatment of identified individuals, and programs which did not fit the World Health Organization screening description. Robust discussion in the literature is needed to consider the organization and role of health screening following environmental exposures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Perspectives on Environment and Human Health)
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19 pages, 3024 KiB  
Article
Investigating the Geochemical Controls on Pb Bioaccessibility in Urban Agricultural Soils to Inform Sustainable Site Management
by Jane Entwistle, Lindsay Bramwell, Joanna Wragg, Mark Cave, Elliott Hamilton, Amanda Gardner and John R Dean
Geosciences 2020, 10(10), 398; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10100398 - 5 Oct 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2617
Abstract
The solid-phase speciation of contaminants in soil plays a major role in regulating both the environmental mobility of contaminants and their bioavailability in biological receptors such as humans. With the increasing prevalence of urban agriculture, in tandem with growing evidence of the negative [...] Read more.
The solid-phase speciation of contaminants in soil plays a major role in regulating both the environmental mobility of contaminants and their bioavailability in biological receptors such as humans. With the increasing prevalence of urban agriculture, in tandem with growing evidence of the negative health impacts of even low levels of exposure to Pb, there is a pressing need to provide regulators with a relevant evidence base on which to build human health risk assessments and construct sustainable site management plans. We detail how the solid-phase fractionation of Pb from selected urban agricultural soil samples, using sequential extraction, can be utilised to interpret the bioaccessible fraction of Pb and ultimately inform sustainable site management plans. Our sequential extraction data shows that the Pb in our urban soils is primarily associated with Al oxide phases, with the second most important phase associated with either Fe oxyhydroxide or crystalline FeO, and only to a limited extent with Ca carbonates. We interpret the co-presence of a P component with the Al oxide cluster to indicate the soils contain Pb phosphate type minerals, such as plumbogummite (PbAl3(PO4)2(OH)5·H2O), as a consequence of natural “soil aging” processes. The presence of Pb phosphates, in conjunction with our biomonitoring data, which indicates the lack of elevated blood Pb levels in our gardeners compared to their non-gardening neighbours, suggests the (legacy) Pb in these soils has been rendered relatively immobile. This study has given confidence to the local authority regulators, and the gardeners, that these urban gardens can be safe to use, even where soil Pb levels are up to ten times above the UK’s recommended lead screening level. The advice to our urban gardeners, based on our findings, is to carry on gardening but follow recommended good land management and hygiene practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Perspectives on Environment and Human Health)
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20 pages, 1466 KiB  
Article
Biogeochemistry of Household Dust Samples Collected from Private Homes of a Portuguese Industrial City
by Amélia P. Marinho-Reis, Cristiana Costa, Fernando Rocha, Mark Cave, Joanna Wragg, Teresa Valente, Amália Sequeira-Braga and Yves Noack
Geosciences 2020, 10(10), 392; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10100392 - 1 Oct 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2714
Abstract
The main objectives of the present study were to (i) investigate the effects of mineralogy and solid-phase distribution on element bioaccessibility and (ii) perform a risk assessment to calculate the risks to human health via the ingestion pathway. Multiple discriminant analysis showed that [...] Read more.
The main objectives of the present study were to (i) investigate the effects of mineralogy and solid-phase distribution on element bioaccessibility and (ii) perform a risk assessment to calculate the risks to human health via the ingestion pathway. Multiple discriminant analysis showed that the dust chemistry discriminates between indoor and outdoor samples. The solid-phase distribution of the elements in indoor dust indicated that a large proportion of zinc, nickel, lead, copper, and cobalt is associated with an aluminum oxy-hydroxides component, formed by the weathering of aluminum silicates. This component, which seems to influence the mobility of many trace elements, was identified for a group of indoor dust samples that probably had a considerable contribution from outdoor dust. An iron oxide component consisted of the highest percentage of chromium, arsenic, antimony, and tin, indicating low mobility for these elements. The bioaccessible fraction in the stomach phase from the unified BARGE method was generally high in zinc, cadmium, and lead and low in nickel, cobalt, copper, chromium, and antimony. Unlike other potentially toxic elements, copper and nickel associated with aluminum oxy-hydroxides and calcium carbonates were not extracted by the stomach solutions. These trace elements possibly form stable complexes with gastric fluid constituents such as pepsin and amino acid. Lead had a hazard quotient >1, which indicates the risk of non-carcinogenic health effects, especially for children. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Perspectives on Environment and Human Health)
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22 pages, 4195 KiB  
Article
Naturally Occurring Potentially Harmful Elements in Groundwater in Makueni County, South-Eastern Kenya: Effects on Drinking Water Quality and Agriculture
by Patrick Kirita Gevera, Mark Cave, Kim Dowling, Peter Gikuma-Njuru and Hassina Mouri
Geosciences 2020, 10(2), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10020062 - 6 Feb 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 5997
Abstract
Makueni County is located in the semi-arid south-eastern Kenya region characterized by unreliable rainfall and limited surface water resources. This necessitates a high reliance on groundwater for domestic and agricultural use. In this paper, we report on the physico-chemical characteristics of 20 drinking [...] Read more.
Makueni County is located in the semi-arid south-eastern Kenya region characterized by unreliable rainfall and limited surface water resources. This necessitates a high reliance on groundwater for domestic and agricultural use. In this paper, we report on the physico-chemical characteristics of 20 drinking water sources (boreholes, shallow wells, streams, and tap water) collected during the dry season (November 2018), the geochemical processes controlling their composition, and their suitability for drinking water and irrigation. Of all the physico-chemical parameters analysed, the concentrations of total dissolved solids, hardness, electrical conductivity, magnesium, calcium, chloride, and fluoride exceeded the permissible drinking water limits set by both the World Health Organization (WHO) and Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) in up to 55% of the samples. The dominant ions reflect the high salinity in the water that ranged from very high to extreme in up to 50% of samples. The northern region shows the highest concentrations of the dominant parameters. The water type is predominantly Ca-Mg-HCO3 with a trend to Ca-Mg-Cl-SO4. Rock weathering and evaporation are suggested to be the primary controls of groundwater geochemical characteristics. High salinity and fluoride, which are associated with reported undesirable taste and gastrointestinal upsets, as well as cases of dental fluorosis are some of the effects of consuming groundwater in the region. These two parameters can be attributed to the weathering of biotite gneisses, granitoid gneisses, migmatites, and basaltic rocks that occur in the area. The high salinity and alkalinity of most of the samples analysed, renders the water unsuitable for irrigation in the study area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Perspectives on Environment and Human Health)
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20 pages, 5516 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Radon Concentration and Impact on Human Health in a Region Dominated by Abandoned Gold Mine Tailings Dams: A Case from the West Rand Region, South Africa
by Paballo Moshupya, Tamiru Abiye, Hassina Mouri, Mannie Levin, Marius Strauss and Rian Strydom
Geosciences 2019, 9(11), 466; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9110466 - 31 Oct 2019
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 5877
Abstract
Radon gas has long been identified as a human carcinogen. The purpose of this study was to understand the occurrence of radon gas in the West Rand region, located west of the city of Johannesburg, South Africa, and to investigate its potential health [...] Read more.
Radon gas has long been identified as a human carcinogen. The purpose of this study was to understand the occurrence of radon gas in the West Rand region, located west of the city of Johannesburg, South Africa, and to investigate its potential health effects. In this study, the sampling of rocks, tailings, and construction materials was carried out for geochemical analyses. For characterisation of radon, 60 radon monitors (RGMs) were installed in indoor and outdoor environments. The results showed that mine tailings contain high uranium levels, with a maximum of 149.76 ppm and a mean value of 48.87 ppm. The radon levels in the area ranged between 32 Bq/m3 and 1069 Bq/m3 and thus, exceed the typical outdoor radon levels of about 10 Bq/m3. Significantly high values were obtained from gold tailings dams. In indoor environments, radon concentration ranged up to a maximum of 174 Bq/m3, which is above the recommended value of 100 Bq/m3. The effective doses calculated from the obtained radon levels showed a maximum of 16 mSv/y, which is above the recommended value of 1 mSv/y proposed for public exposure. The estimated doses have an enormous potential to pose high lung cancer risks to the populations residing nearby tailings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Perspectives on Environment and Human Health)
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Review

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18 pages, 1598 KiB  
Review
Cadmium Pollution in the Tourism Environment: A Literature Review
by Anna V. Mikhailenko, Dmitry A. Ruban, Vladimir A. Ermolaev and A.J. (Tom) van Loon
Geosciences 2020, 10(6), 242; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10060242 - 22 Jun 2020
Cited by 41 | Viewed by 6287
Abstract
Cadmium is a highly-toxic metal, and, its environmental occurrence and human exposure consequently deserve close attention. The insight into the relationships between cadmium and tourism relations has deepened during the past three decades and the research into this relationship is reviewed. For this [...] Read more.
Cadmium is a highly-toxic metal, and, its environmental occurrence and human exposure consequently deserve close attention. The insight into the relationships between cadmium and tourism relations has deepened during the past three decades and the research into this relationship is reviewed. For this purpose, 83 relevant publications (mainly articles in international journals) were analyzed. It was found that investigation of Cd in the tourism environment took place in all continents (except Antarctica) and has intensified since the mid-2000s; Chinese researchers are the most active contributors. The Cd occurrence in air, living organisms, sediments, soil, suspended particular matter, water, and of the human environment has been studied. It has become clear that tourism contributes to Cd pollution (particularly, by hotel wastewater and increased traffic), and, vice versa, Cd pollution of beaches, coastal waters, food, urban parks, etc. creates risks for tourists and increases human exposure to this toxic metal. Both mechanisms have received equal attention. Examples concern many places worldwide, with the Mediterranean and Central and Eastern Europe as apparently critical regions. Our significantly incomplete knowledge of the relationships between cadmium and tourism must be ascribed to the common oversimplification of these relationships and to the scarcity or even absence of information supplied by the most important tourist destinations. The present review demonstrates that more studies of heavy metals and, particularly, Cd in the tourism environment are needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Perspectives on Environment and Human Health)
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