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Impact of Heavy Metals on the Sustainable Environment

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Sustainability and Applications".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 March 2024 | Viewed by 2413

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Mihone Kerolli Mustafa
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Faculty of Chemical Engineering and Technology, University of Zagreb, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
2. Environmental Management, International Business College Mitrovica, 40000 Kosovo, Kosovo
Interests: heavy metals; soil; water and air pollution; pollution prevention; statistical and environmental modelling; materials; risk assessment; green transition and technology; environmental monitoring and controlling; circular economy
Department of Materials, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture, University of Zagreb, Ivana Lucica 1, HR-10000 Zagreb, Croatia
Interests: advanced ceramics; nanomaterials; corrosion mechanisms; wear mechanisms; mechanical characterization; sintering; microstructural characterization of ceramics; manufacturing; forming of ceramics
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Today, the contamination of lands and other natural habitats by heavy metals has become a severe hazard to the environment. Heavy metals are one of the most serious environmental pollutants that present complex, long-term environmental problems, particularly in areas with high anthropogenic pressure. These pollutants are being discarded into the atmosphere, water and soil and accumulated by plants and internal human tissues due to rapidly growing agriculture activities, metal industries, waste disposal, traffic emissions and expanding industrialisation. Heavy metals are non-degradable and can easily persist in the environment. Due to their hazardous impact on the environment, heavy metals have received great attention in terms of their environmental consequences, toxicity to human health, pollution prevention as well as novel treatment methods that enhance environmental sustainability and provide effective support for seeking the ‘best’ environmental management options.

This Special Issue entitled “Impact of Heavy Metals on the Sustainable Environment”, which belongs to the Sustainability Journal (ISSN 2071-1050), is a collection of papers that aims to explore a wide range of topics on the impact of heavy metals in the sustainable environment, including (but not limited to) the following:

(1) An evaluation of heavy metals’ mobility in the environment.

(2) Heavy metal pollution and health risks.

(3) Risk assessment of heavy metals in the air, water, plants and related soils.

(4) Environmental sustainability and the prevention of heavy metal pollution.

(5) Advances in heavy metal remediation: methods, tools and technology.

(6) Monitoring and the impact of assessment approaches for heavy metals.

(7) Statistical and environmental modelling of heavy metal pollution.

(8) Heavy metals’ impact on the circular economy.

(9) Cross-cutting aspects and sustainability.

We are pleased to invite you to contribute your relevant manuscripts to this Special Issue. Both original research papers and reviews are welcome. The keywords listed below represent a few of our research priorities.

We look forward to receiving your contribution.

Prof. Dr. Mihone Kerolli Mustafa
Prof. Dr. Lidija Ćurković
Guest Editors

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. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly 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 2400 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

  • heavy metal
  • mobility
  • soil pollution
  • water contamination
  • air pollution
  • plant accumulation
  • health risk
  • environmental monitoring
  • risk assessment
  • heavy metals remediation
  • environmental sustainability
  • environmental modelling

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

16 pages, 842 KiB  
Article
Assessment of the Potential of Sunflower Grown in Metal-Contaminated Soils for Production of Biofuels
Sustainability 2024, 16(5), 1829; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16051829 - 23 Feb 2024
Viewed by 397
Abstract
Environmental biotechnology needs solutions that are associated with a low budget and cleaner remediation, and which are connected to resources and energetic valorization, to be able to encourage a circular bioeconomy. A prospective resolution for heavy-metal-contaminated soils is the application of phytoremediation approaches [...] Read more.
Environmental biotechnology needs solutions that are associated with a low budget and cleaner remediation, and which are connected to resources and energetic valorization, to be able to encourage a circular bioeconomy. A prospective resolution for heavy-metal-contaminated soils is the application of phytoremediation approaches merged with bioenergy generation using the resulting biomass. Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) has been studied as a feedstock for biodiesel generation, and appears to be very attractive for biogas and bioethanol production. The current study reports an innovative energetic valorization approach of H. annuus biomass derived from the application of a phytoremediation strategy devised to remove Zn and Cd from an industrially contaminated soil (599 mg Zn kg−1 and 1.2 mg Cd kg−1)—and its comparison to the analysis of the same energetic valorization pathway for sunflower plants growing in an agricultural non-contaminated soil. After plant harvesting, bioethanol was produced from the aboveground tissues, and applied in the transesterification of the oil obtained through seed extraction for the generation of biodiesel. Also, biogas production was assessed through the root’s biomass anaerobic digestion. Similar yields of oil extraction—0.32 and 0.28 mL g−1 DW—were obtained when using seeds from H. annuus cultured in contaminated and non-contaminated soils, respectively. The production yield of bioethanol was superior using biomass from the agricultural non-contaminated soil (0.29 mL g−1 DW) when compared to the industrial metal-contaminated soil (0.20 mL g−1 DW). Zinc was measured in minor levels in bioethanol and oil (ca. 1.1 and 1.8 mg mL−1, correspondingly) resulting from the biomass cultivated in the industrialized soil, whereas Cd was not detected. The production yield of biogas was superior when using root biomass from H. annuus cultivated in agricultural non-contaminated soil (VS max. ca. 104 mL g−1) when compared to the one deriving from the industrial contaminated soil (VS max ca. 85 mL g−1). Generally, results demonstrate that substantial production yields of the tested biofuels were attained from biomass resulting from phytoremediation, corroborating this integrated original approach as a valuable alternative for the phytoremediation of HM-polluted soils and as an important strategy for plant biomass valorization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Heavy Metals on the Sustainable Environment)
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19 pages, 11632 KiB  
Article
Elucidating the Potential of Biochar-Bentonite Composite and Kaolinite-Based Seed Balls for the Remediation of Coal Mining Impacted Heavy Metals Contaminated Soil
Sustainability 2023, 15(17), 12900; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151712900 - 25 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 718
Abstract
Globally, open-pit coal mining is associated with severe land use impact and the contamination of soil and water resources with heavy metals. Thus, in growing economies like India, where coal is a significant energy source, the heavy metals contamination of soil and water [...] Read more.
Globally, open-pit coal mining is associated with severe land use impact and the contamination of soil and water resources with heavy metals. Thus, in growing economies like India, where coal is a significant energy source, the heavy metals contamination of soil and water become ubiquitous. This study uses a unique remediation approach by developing biochar-bentonite-based seed balls encapsulating Shorgham grass seeds at their core for application in the contaminated soil. The seed ball was developed by using the bentonite biochar composite in varying weight fractions of 0.5–5% with respect to the kaolinite, whose fractions in the seed ball also varied at one, three, and five parts. The seed balls were applied to the pots containing 3 kg of heavy-metals-contaminated soil for a pot-culture study in a polyhouse for a period of four months. Initial soil analysis results indicated that the mine soil samples showed poor nutrient and organic matter content and were contaminated with heavy metals such as Ni, Zn, Cr, and Cd. Post-pot-culture soil analysis results indicated that the application of seed balls containing five fractions of biochar composite with its combination with three and five-weight fractions of kaolinite showed substantial improvement in the pH, available nutrients, organic matter content, soil enzymes, and overall soil fertility index compared to the controlled study and other cases. The same combination of seed balls also significantly reduced the plant-available fractions of Ni, Zn, Cr, and Cd in the soil, indicating the stabilization of heavy metals within the soil matrix. Also, the application of seed balls substantially improved the plant physiology and reduced the release of stress hormones within the plant cells, indicating improvement in the plant’s biotic and abiotic stress factors. Thus, the application of seed balls in heavy metals contaminated soils, particularly over a large stretch of land, could be a low-cost and viable remediation technique. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Heavy Metals on the Sustainable Environment)
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14 pages, 2026 KiB  
Article
Retrieval of Soil Heavy Metal Content for Environment Monitoring in Mining Area via Transfer Learning
Sustainability 2023, 15(15), 11765; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151511765 - 31 Jul 2023
Viewed by 702
Abstract
Monitoring environmental pollution sources is an ongoing issue that must be addressed to reduce risks to public health, food safety, and the environment. However, retrieving topsoil heavy metal content at a low cost for environmental monitoring in mining areas is challenging. Therefore, this [...] Read more.
Monitoring environmental pollution sources is an ongoing issue that must be addressed to reduce risks to public health, food safety, and the environment. However, retrieving topsoil heavy metal content at a low cost for environmental monitoring in mining areas is challenging. Therefore, this study proposes a network model based on transfer learning theory and a back propagation (BP) network optimized by a genetic algorithm (GA), taking the Daxigou mining area in Shaanxi Province, China, as a case study. Firstly, visible and near-infrared spectrum data from Landsat8 satellite images, digital elevation models, and geochemical data from field-collected soil samples were used to extract environmental factor candidates indicating the content and spatial distribution of certain heavy metals, including copper (Cu) and lead (Pb). Secondly, each element was correlated with environmental factors and a multicollinearity test was performed to determine the optimal factor set. Then, the BP network optimized by GA was pre-trained with sample data collected in 2017 and retrained with minimal sample data from 2019 using the parameter transfer learning method, allowing spatial distribution mapping of the Cu and Pb content in topsoil of the Daxigou mining area in 2019. From the validation results using field-collected data, the root mean square error (RMSE) and mean relative error (MRE) values using the proposed model, respectively, reduced by 4.688 mg/kg and 1.533 mg/kg for Cu and reduced by 1.586 mg/kg and 1.232 mg/kg for Pb compared to the traditional GA-BP model. Thus, conclusions can be drawn that our proposed Tr-GA-BP network performs well, requiring 16 training samples collected in 2019. In addition, the content of Cu is the highest; Pb is the second highest in the study area. Both of them were spatially distributed mainly in the exploitation, slag stacking, roadside, etc., consistent with field investigation results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Heavy Metals on the Sustainable Environment)
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