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Environments, Volume 8, Issue 3 (March 2021) – 8 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): The ocean’s particle fluxes influence marine carbon biogeochemistry. Microplastics are anthropogenic particles, but how their effects compare to those of natural marine particles is only beginning to be addressed. This study explores the impacts of marine particles on dissolved organic matter (DOM) in three scenarios: a particle-free environment, a polystyrene microplastic-enriched system, and a system enriched with inorganic particles (SiO2). DOM derived from a non-axenic strain of marine diatoms was incubated in the dark to monitor differences in microbial reworking under each scenario. Particle-enriched systems showed a higher degree of DOM alteration, indicating that microplastics have a potential role in modifying marine organic matter dynamics on a similar magnitude to that of biogenic inorganic particles. View this paper
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Article
Prenatal Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants and Maternal Folic Acid Supplementation: Their Impact on Glucose Homeostasis in Male Rat Descendants
Environments 2021, 8(3), 24; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8030024 - 22 Mar 2021
Viewed by 1091
Abstract
Exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is associated with insulin resistance while folic acid (FA) may offer a protective effect. However, the paternal contribution to metabolic phenotypes in offspring is not well known yet. Hence, we investigated whether maternal exposure to POPs affects [...] Read more.
Exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is associated with insulin resistance while folic acid (FA) may offer a protective effect. However, the paternal contribution to metabolic phenotypes in offspring is not well known yet. Hence, we investigated whether maternal exposure to POPs affects glucose homeostasis and whether maternal FA supplementation counteracts POP effects transmitted via male descendants. Sprague–Dawley founder dams (F0) were fed a diet containing 2 or 6 mg/kg of FA and were force-fed with either a POP mixture or corn oil for 9 weeks. Subsequent male descendants did not receive any treatment. Blood glucose, plasma insulin and C-peptide were measured during an oral glucose tolerance test in males aged 90 and 180 days from generation 1 (F1), 2 (F2) and 3 (F3). Prenatal POP exposure increased fasting glucose in 90-day-old F1 males and C-peptide in 90-day-old F2 males. Prenatal FA supplementation decreased C-peptide in 90 and 180-day-old F1 males. In 180-day-old F3 males, FA supplementation counteracted POPs on fasting and postglucose C-peptide, indicating reduced insulin secretion. Prenatal exposure to an environmentally relevant POP mixture caused abnormalities in glucose homeostasis that are transmitted from one generation to the next through the paternal lineage. Prenatal FA supplementation counteracted some of the deleterious effects of POPs on glucose homeostasis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effect of Environmental Pollutants on Metabolic Defects)
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Article
Environmental Impacts of Conventional versus Organic Eggplant Cultivation Systems: Influence of Electricity Mix, Yield, Over-Fertilization, and Transportation
Environments 2021, 8(3), 23; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8030023 - 20 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1323
Abstract
We report a comparative environmental study of organic and conventional open-field eggplant cultivation systems under Mediterranean (northern Greece) climatic conditions. Actual life cycle inventory (LCI) data were collected from local farm systems. Using life cycle assessment (LCA), organic eggplant cultivation exhibited better environmental [...] Read more.
We report a comparative environmental study of organic and conventional open-field eggplant cultivation systems under Mediterranean (northern Greece) climatic conditions. Actual life cycle inventory (LCI) data were collected from local farm systems. Using life cycle assessment (LCA), organic eggplant cultivation exhibited better environmental performance per unit area (24.15% lower total environmental footprint compared to conventional cultivation), but conventional cultivation performed better per unit of mass (28.10% lower total environmental footprint compared to organic cultivation). The conventional system attained higher scores in eutrophication (up to 37.12%) and ecotoxicity (up to 83.00%) midpoint impact categories, due to the use of chemical fertilizer and pesticide. This highlights the need for spatially explicit LCA that accounts for local environmental impacts at the local scale. For both cultivation systems, the main environmental hotspot was groundwater abstraction for irrigation owing to its infrastructure (drip irrigation pipes and pump) and electricity consumption from the fossil fuel-dependent energy mix in Greece. Excessive addition of soil fertilizer greatly affected the environmental sustainability of both systems, especially conventional cultivation, indicating an urgent need for fertilizer guidelines that enhance environmentally sustainable agricultural practice worldwide. Results were sensitive to lower marketable fruit yield, with the organic system performing better in terms of environmental relevance with respect to maximum yield. When renewable energy sources (RES) were used to drive irrigation, both systems exhibited reductions in total environmental footprint, suggesting that RES could help decarbonise the agricultural sector. Finally, eggplant transportation greatly affected the environmental sustainability of both cultivation systems, confirming that local production and consumption are important perquisites for environmental sustainability of agricultural products. Full article
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Article
Dissolution of Ag Nanoparticles in Agricultural Soils and Effects on Soil Exoenzyme Activities
Environments 2021, 8(3), 22; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8030022 - 19 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1145
Abstract
To assess environmental risks related to the mobility and toxicity of AgNPs, the chemical availability of AgNPs and polyvinylpyrrolidone-coated AgNPs (PVP-AgNPs) in three agricultural soils was quantified in a pot experiment. Porewater collection and soil extractions with 0.01 M CaCl2, 0.4 [...] Read more.
To assess environmental risks related to the mobility and toxicity of AgNPs, the chemical availability of AgNPs and polyvinylpyrrolidone-coated AgNPs (PVP-AgNPs) in three agricultural soils was quantified in a pot experiment. Porewater collection and soil extractions with 0.01 M CaCl2, 0.4 M Glycine (pH 1.5) and 0.05 M NH4-EDTA were performed. The effect on soil exoenzyme activities was also assessed. Porewater concentration was low (<0.4% and <0.04% of dosed Ag, for AgNPs and PVP-AgNPs, respectively) and only detected in acidic soils (pH 4.4 and 4.9). The PVP-coating reduced the downward mobility of AgNPs in soil and possibly also their dissolution rate (and subsequent release of dissolved Ag+ ions into porewater). The effect of variation in organic matter on soil enzymatic activity was larger than that of AgNPs, as no significant additional inhibitory effect from Ag could be observed. Only at low pH and in the presence of complexing ligands that form very stable Ag complexes (0.4 M Glycine extraction at pH 1.5) up to 58% of the Ag added to soil was released (independently of PVP coating). An extraction with glycine is proposed as a useful indicator of potentially available Ag in soils. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Pollution Assessment and Sustainable Remediation Strategies)
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Communication
Microplastics Contamination versus Inorganic Particles: Effects on the Dynamics of Marine Dissolved Organic Matter
Environments 2021, 8(3), 21; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8030021 - 06 Mar 2021
Viewed by 1816
Abstract
Microplastic contamination has been linked to a range of impacts on aquatic environments. One important area that is only beginning to be addressed is the effect of microplastics on marine carbon cycling and how these compare to the effects related to inorganic particles [...] Read more.
Microplastic contamination has been linked to a range of impacts on aquatic environments. One important area that is only beginning to be addressed is the effect of microplastics on marine carbon cycling and how these compare to the effects related to inorganic particles typically present in ocean waters. The present study explores these impacts on dissolved organic matter dynamics by comparing three scenarios: a particle-free environment, a particle-enriched system with polystyrene microplastics, and a particle-enriched system with inorganic particles (water insoluble SiO2). Natural marine organic matter was obtained by culturing a non-axenic strain of Chaetoceros socialis in 2 L flasks under each of three scenarios. Following the diatom growth phase, filtered samples from the three flasks containing dissolved organic matter and bacteria were incubated separately in the dark for 5 days to monitor changes in dissolved organic matter. Chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM), a bulk optical property, was monitored daily to examine changes in its quality and quantity and to compare degradation dynamics in the three systems. CDOM absorbance (quantity) remained higher in the control with respect to particle-enriched systems, suggesting that the presence of particles led to different rates of CDOM production and degradation. Using indicators for CDOM that could be related to microbial activity, results showed a higher CDOM alteration in the particle-enriched systems. These results indicate that microplastics have a potential role in modifying marine organic matter dynamics, on a similar magnitude to that of biogenic inorganic particles. Given their increasing concentrations of marine ecosystems, their role in marine microbial processing of organic matter needs to be better understood. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plastic Contamination: Challenges and Solutions)
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Review
Advances in Circular Bioeconomy Technologies: From Agricultural Wastewater to Value-Added Resources
Environments 2021, 8(3), 20; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8030020 - 01 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1592
Abstract
This review systematically outlines the recent advances in the application of circular bioeconomy technologies for converting agricultural wastewater to value-added resources. The properties and applications of the value-added products from agricultural wastewater are first summarized. Various types of agricultural wastewater, such as piggery [...] Read more.
This review systematically outlines the recent advances in the application of circular bioeconomy technologies for converting agricultural wastewater to value-added resources. The properties and applications of the value-added products from agricultural wastewater are first summarized. Various types of agricultural wastewater, such as piggery wastewater and digestate from anaerobic digestion, are focused on. Next, different types of circular technologies for recovery of humic substances (e.g., humin, humic acids and fulvic acids) and nutrients (e.g., nitrogen and phosphorus) from agricultural wastewater are reviewed and discussed. Advanced technologies, such as chemical precipitation, membrane separation and electrokinetic separation, are evaluated. The environmental benefits of the circular technologies compared to conventional wastewater treatment processes are also addressed. Lastly, the perspectives and prospects of the circular technologies for agricultural wastewater are provided. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Deployment of Green Technologies for Sustainable Environment)
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Article
Multi-Year Monitoring of Ecosystem Metabolism in Two Branches of a Cold-Water Stream
Environments 2021, 8(3), 19; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8030019 - 28 Feb 2021
Viewed by 1105
Abstract
Climate change is likely to have large impacts on freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem function, especially in cold-water streams. Ecosystem metabolism is affected by water temperature and discharge, both of which are expected to be affected by climate change and, thus, require long-term monitoring [...] Read more.
Climate change is likely to have large impacts on freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem function, especially in cold-water streams. Ecosystem metabolism is affected by water temperature and discharge, both of which are expected to be affected by climate change and, thus, require long-term monitoring to assess alterations in stream function. This study examined ecosystem metabolism in two branches of a trout stream in Minnesota, USA over 3 years. One branch was warmer, allowing the examination of elevated temperature on metabolism. Dissolved oxygen levels were assessed every 10 min from spring through fall in 2017–2019. Gross primary production (GPP) was higher in the colder branch in all years. GPP in both branches was highest before leaf-out in the spring. Ecosystem respiration (ER) was greater in the warmer stream in two of three years. Both streams were heterotrophic in all years (net ecosystem production—NEP < 0). There were significant effects of temperature and light on GPP, ER, and NEP. Stream discharge had a significant impact on all GPP, ER, and NEP in the colder stream, but only on ER and NEP in the warmer stream. This study indicated that the impacts of temperature, light, and discharge differ among years, and, at least at the local scale, may not follow expected patterns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring and Management of Inland Waters)
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Article
Detecting Leaders Country from Road Transport Emission Time-Series
Environments 2021, 8(3), 18; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8030018 - 27 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1209
Abstract
Nowadays, climate change and global warming have become the main concerns worldwide. One of the main causes are the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced by human activities, especially by the transportation sector. The adherence to international agreements and the implementation of climate change [...] Read more.
Nowadays, climate change and global warming have become the main concerns worldwide. One of the main causes are the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced by human activities, especially by the transportation sector. The adherence to international agreements and the implementation of climate change policy are necessary conditions for reducing environmental problems. This paper investigates the lead–lag relationship between Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Annex I member countries on road transport emission performance focusing on the statistical analysis of the lead–lag relationships between the road transport emission time-series from 1970–2018 extracted by the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) database. The analysis was carried out using the cross-correlation function between each pair of the countries’ time-series considered. Empirical results confirm that some nations have been playing a role as leaders, while others as followers. Sweden can be considered the leader, followed by Germany and France. By analyzing their environmental policy history, we can figure out a common point that explains our results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Air Pollution in Urban and Industrial Areas)
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Article
Characterizing Seasonal Variation in Landfill Leachate Using Leachate Pollution Index (LPI) at Nam Son Solid Waste Landfill in Hanoi, Vietnam
Environments 2021, 8(3), 17; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8030017 - 27 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1275
Abstract
The improper treatment of landfill leachates is one of the major problems associated with waste landfilling and causes serious environmental pollution at waste landfill sites and their surroundings. To develop a suitable landfill leachate treatment system and to minimize the risk of environmental [...] Read more.
The improper treatment of landfill leachates is one of the major problems associated with waste landfilling and causes serious environmental pollution at waste landfill sites and their surroundings. To develop a suitable landfill leachate treatment system and to minimize the risk of environmental pollution, it is important to characterize seasonal and temporal variations of landfill leachates. This study investigated the leachate quality of the Nam Son waste landfill in Hanoi, Vietnam in 2017–2019 and characterized the potential risks of landfill leachate using a leachate pollution index (LPI). The results of this study showed that the seasonal and temporal variation of the overall LPI during the monitoring period was small and in the range of 20–25 (values 2.5 times higher than the maximum permissible limits of Vietnam National Technical Regulation on Industrial Wastewater). The LPI sub-indices attributed to organic and inorganic pollutants were major components of the LPI. Especially, the annually averaged values of LPI of inorganic pollutants were 7.7 times higher than the maximum permissible limits, suggesting that the treatment of inorganic pollutants, such as ammonium-nitrogen (NH4+–N) and total nitrogen (TN), is highly required at Nam Son landfill to prevent environmental pollution surrounding the landfill site. Full article
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