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Environments, Volume 8, Issue 8 (August 2021) – 18 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): In this nano-office study, concentrations of nanoparticles (10–300 nm) were measured both indoors and outdoors at twelve office buildings in Umeå in Northern Sweden. The highest concentrations appeared in offices close to a bus terminal and lowest near a park. The concentrations were higher during daytime due to local sources, as combustion-formed nanoparticles infiltrate indoor air, indicating a temporal trend. However, indoor/outdoor ratios of nanoparticles showed large variations between buildings, seasons, and time periods. We could also see particle growth since indoor nanoparticles were almost twice as large as the particles measured outdoors. View this paper.
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Article
Effects of Organic Fertilizer Mixed with Food Waste Dry Powder on the Growth of Chinese Cabbage Seedlings
Environments 2021, 8(8), 86; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8080086 - 23 Aug 2021
Viewed by 500
Abstract
Food waste is a common global threat to the environment, agriculture, and society. In the present study, we used 30% food waste, mixed with 70% bio-fertilizers, and evaluated their ability to affect the growth of Chinese cabbage. The experiment was conducted using different [...] Read more.
Food waste is a common global threat to the environment, agriculture, and society. In the present study, we used 30% food waste, mixed with 70% bio-fertilizers, and evaluated their ability to affect the growth of Chinese cabbage. The experiment was conducted using different concentrations of food waste to investigate their effect on Chinese cabbage growth, chlorophyll content, and mineral content. Leaf length, root length, and fresh and dry weight were significantly increased in plants treated with control fertilizer (CF) and fertilizer mixed with food waste (MF). However, high concentrations of food waste decreased the growth and biomass of Chinese cabbage due to salt content. Furthermore, higher chlorophyll content, transpiration efficiency, and photosynthetic rate were observed in CF- and MF-treated plants, while higher chlorophyll fluorescence was observed in the MF × 2 and MF × 6 treatments. Inductively coupled plasm mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) results showed an increase in potassium (K), calcium (Ca), phosphorous (P), and magnesium (Mg) contents in the MF and MF × 2 treatments, while higher sodium (Na) content was observed in the MF × 4 and MF × 6 treatments due to the high salt content found in food waste. The analysis of abscisic acid (ABA) showed that increasing amounts of food waste increase the endogenous ABA content, compromising the survival of plants. In conclusion, optimal amounts of food waste—up to MF and MF × 2—increase plant growth and provide an ecofriendly approach to be employed in the agriculture production system. Full article
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Review
Recent Trends in Pharmaceuticals Removal from Water Using Electrochemical Oxidation Processes
Environments 2021, 8(8), 85; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8080085 - 22 Aug 2021
Viewed by 788
Abstract
Nowadays, the research on the environmental applications of electrochemistry to remove recalcitrant and priority pollutants and, in particular, drugs from the aqueous phase has increased dramatically. This literature review summarizes the applications of electrochemical oxidation in recent years to decompose pharmaceuticals that are [...] Read more.
Nowadays, the research on the environmental applications of electrochemistry to remove recalcitrant and priority pollutants and, in particular, drugs from the aqueous phase has increased dramatically. This literature review summarizes the applications of electrochemical oxidation in recent years to decompose pharmaceuticals that are often detected in environmental samples such as carbamazapine, sulfamethoxazole, tetracycline, diclofenac, ibuprofen, ceftazidime, ciprofloxacin, etc. Similar to most physicochemical processes, efficiency depends on many operating parameters, while the combination with either biological or other physicochemical methods seems particularly attractive. In addition, various strategies such as using three-dimensional electrodes or the electrosynthesis of hydrogen peroxide have been proposed to overcome the disadvantages of electrochemical oxidation. Finally, some guidelines are proposed for future research into the applications of environmental electrochemistry for the degradation of xenobiotic compounds and micropollutants from environmental matrices. The main goal of the present review paper is to facilitate future researchers to design their experiments concerning the electrochemical oxidation processes for the degradation of micropollutants/emerging contaminants, especially, some specific drugs considering, also, the existing limitations of each process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Technologies for Advanced Water Purification)
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Article
Thermal Pollution Mitigation and Energy Harnessing of the Condensation Process of an Olive Oil Extraction Refinery: A Case Study
Environments 2021, 8(8), 84; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8080084 - 20 Aug 2021
Viewed by 399
Abstract
This paper presents a model to assess strategies for bettering a hexane condensation system from an olive oil extraction refinery in Portugal’s mountainous north. The water used as a cooling fluid is discharged with a higher temperature than the mountain river, provoking the [...] Read more.
This paper presents a model to assess strategies for bettering a hexane condensation system from an olive oil extraction refinery in Portugal’s mountainous north. The water used as a cooling fluid is discharged with a higher temperature than the mountain river, provoking the deterioration of the aquatic flora and fauna, leading to high environmental impact. The model allowed the comparison of solutions for different temperatures of discharge for summer and winter and possible heat recovery back to the factory. The current condensation system power is 1.838 MW and consists of a four-walled pond of 115.3 m3 that cools down the submerged hexane pipes. Nudging in the pond’s structure leads to the introduction of internal channels to increase the turbulence, thus increasing the hexane–water heat exchange rate. Heat recovery of 19.38 kW is possible for the water coming from the pond in the drying bagasse process inside the factory, before discharge into the river. However, the model demonstrates that the decrease in temperature after the heat recovery process falls short of avoiding thermal pollution, leading to complementary actions such as shading the channel or changing the discharge velocity or angle to mitigate the thermal pollution locally. Full article
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Article
Institutional Change and the Implementation of the Ecosystem Approach: A Case Study of HELCOM and the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP)
Environments 2021, 8(8), 83; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8080083 - 19 Aug 2021
Viewed by 488
Abstract
The goal of this article is to explore the ways in which institutional changes are made to accommodate the application of the ecosystem approach for the governance of international environmental organizations. It examines the case of the Helsinki Commission, the governing body for [...] Read more.
The goal of this article is to explore the ways in which institutional changes are made to accommodate the application of the ecosystem approach for the governance of international environmental organizations. It examines the case of the Helsinki Commission, the governing body for restoration of good ecological status to the Baltic Sea, using the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) as its main tool. The Parties to the Helsinki Convention committed to adopting the ecosystem approach in the BSAP, recognizing that a clear shift was needed from the previous sectoral emphasis. The analysis is relevant and timely, as a review of BSAP indicates that implementation actions are lagging. The findings show that while the ecosystem approach influenced problem framing and envisioning, the overarching governance paradigm within HELCOM has not changed. Targeted transition leadership is crucial to guide more formal rules of engagement among actors and sectors for the better implementation of this holistic approach. Full article
Article
Long-Term Eutrophication and Dynamics of Bloom-Forming Microbial Communities during Summer HAB in Large Arctic Lake
Environments 2021, 8(8), 82; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8080082 - 17 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 518
Abstract
Harmful algal blooms (HABs) in arctic lakes are recent phenomena. In our study, we performed a long-term analysis (1990–2017) of the eutrophication of Lake Imandra, a large subarctic lake, and explored the biodiversity of bloom-forming microorganisms of a 2017 summer HAB. We performed [...] Read more.
Harmful algal blooms (HABs) in arctic lakes are recent phenomena. In our study, we performed a long-term analysis (1990–2017) of the eutrophication of Lake Imandra, a large subarctic lake, and explored the biodiversity of bloom-forming microorganisms of a 2017 summer HAB. We performed a 16Sr rRNA metabarcoding study of microbial communities, analysed the associations between N, P, C, and chlorophyll concentrations in the lake water, and developed models for the prediction of HABs based on total P concentration. We have demonstrated that blooms in Lake Imandra occur outside of optimal Redfield ratios and have a nonlinear association with P concentrations. We found that recent summer HABs in a lake occur as simultaneous blooms of a diatom Aulacoseira sp. and cyanobacteria Dolichospermum sp. We have studied the temporal dynamics of microbial communities during the bloom and performed an analysis of the publicly available Dolichospermum genomes to outline potential genetic mechanisms beneath simultaneous blooming. We found genetic traits requisite for diatom-diazotroph associations, which may lay beneath the simultaneous blooming of Aulacoseira sp. and Dolichospermum sp. in Lake Imandra. Both groups of organisms have the ability to store nutrients and form a dormant stage. All of these factors will ensure the further development of the HABs in Lake Imandra and the dispersal of these bloom-forming species to neighboring lakes. Full article
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Article
Single-Use Plastic Bans: Exploring Stakeholder Perspectives on Best Practices for Reducing Plastic Pollution
Environments 2021, 8(8), 81; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8080081 - 16 Aug 2021
Viewed by 852
Abstract
In this study, we conducted and documented workshops and interviews in Norway and Slovenia to identify stakeholder and future generation opinions and mitigation strategies for solving one of the most prominent environmental issues: plastic pollution. As part of the EU H2020 project GoJelly [...] Read more.
In this study, we conducted and documented workshops and interviews in Norway and Slovenia to identify stakeholder and future generation opinions and mitigation strategies for solving one of the most prominent environmental issues: plastic pollution. As part of the EU H2020 project GoJelly, stakeholders were brought together to explore their perceptions on considering jellyfish mucus as a new resource to contribute to reducing plastic pollution from entering the marine environment. The study was conducted in the spring of 2019, in a context directly after the European Union (EU) announced its Directive to ban the most commonly used single-use plastic (SUP) items. The study applied the snowball method as a methodological choice to identify relevant stakeholders. Systems thinking was utilized as a participatory modelling approach, which allowed for the creation of conceptual mind maps from the various workshops and interviews, to understand consumers’ consciousness, and to map out ideas on plastic pollution reduction. Plastic pollution takes place on a global scale and stakeholders discussed their individual perceptions of national and international solutions that could be put in place to solve it, including the opportunities around utilizing jellyfish mucus to filter and capture micro- and nanoplastic. We found that industry stakeholders in both case areas were generally more accepting of policy and increased innovation moving forward, but placed weight on the scientific community to conduct more research on the pollution issue and propose solutions. Future generation stakeholders (youth aged 14–18), however, put emphasis on consumer behavior and buying patterns of single-use products fueling the plastic crisis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plastic Contamination: Challenges and Solutions)
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Review
High-Solid Anaerobic Digestion: Reviewing Strategies for Increasing Reactor Performance
Environments 2021, 8(8), 80; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8080080 - 14 Aug 2021
Viewed by 497
Abstract
High-solid and solid-state anaerobic digestion are technologies capable of achieving high reactor productivity. The high organic load admissible for this type of configuration makes these technologies an ideal ally in the conversion of waste into bioenergy. However, there are still several factors associated [...] Read more.
High-solid and solid-state anaerobic digestion are technologies capable of achieving high reactor productivity. The high organic load admissible for this type of configuration makes these technologies an ideal ally in the conversion of waste into bioenergy. However, there are still several factors associated with these technologies that result in low performance. The economic model based on a linear approach is unsustainable, and changes leading to the development of a low-carbon model with a high degree of circularity are necessary. Digestion technology may represent a key driver leading these changes but it is undeniable that the profitability of these plants needs to be increased. In the present review, the digestion process under high-solid-content configurations is analyzed and the different strategies for increasing reactor productivity that have been studied in recent years are described. Percolating reactor configurations and the use of low-cost adsorbents, nanoparticles and micro-aeration seem the most suitable approaches to increase volumetric production and reduce initial capital investment costs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Small-Scale Anaerobic Digestion for Biogas Production)
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Article
The Diatomic Diversity of Two Mediterranean High-Elevation Lakes in the Sibillini Mountains National Park (Central Italy)
Environments 2021, 8(8), 79; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8080079 - 13 Aug 2021
Viewed by 535
Abstract
Temporary high-elevation lakes represent vulnerable and unstable environments strongly threatened by tourism, hydrogeological transformations and climate changes. In-depth scientific knowledge on these peculiar habitats is needed, on which to base integrated and sustainable management plans. Freshwater diatoms, thanks to their high diversity and [...] Read more.
Temporary high-elevation lakes represent vulnerable and unstable environments strongly threatened by tourism, hydrogeological transformations and climate changes. In-depth scientific knowledge on these peculiar habitats is needed, on which to base integrated and sustainable management plans. Freshwater diatoms, thanks to their high diversity and their particular sensitivity to the water chemistry, can be considered powerful ecological indicators, as they are able to reflect environmental changes over time. The aim of the present study was to analyze the diatomic diversity of the Pilato and Palazzo Borghese lakes, two small temporary high-mountain basins, falling in a protected area within the Apennine mountains chain (central Italy). Diatoms data were collected, at the same time as 12 physicochemical parameters, through six microhabitat samplings, from 17 June to 30 August 2019. In both lakes, a total of 111 diatomic species and varieties were identified. The most species-rich genera were Gomphonema, Navicula, and Nitzschia. The Pilato Lake showed a diatomic community dominated by few species, favored by more stable and predictable environmental conditions than the Palazzo Borghese Lake, which hosted a more diversified community, guaranteed by greater spatial and temporal heterogeneity. Both lakes were characterized by the presence of diatomic species typical of good quality waters. The occurrence of numerous aerial species reflected adaptation strategies adopted to colonize environments subjected to extended drought periods. Endangered diatomic species of particular conservational interest were recorded, confirming the need to preserve their habitats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring and Management of Inland Waters)
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Article
Organic Wastes Amended with Sorbents Reduce N2O Emissions from Sugarcane Cropping
Environments 2021, 8(8), 78; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8080078 - 10 Aug 2021
Viewed by 557
Abstract
Nutrient-rich organic wastes and soil ameliorants can benefit crop performance and soil health but can also prevent crop nutrient sufficiency or increase greenhouse gas emissions. We hypothesised that nitrogen (N)-rich agricultural waste (poultry litter) amended with sorbents (bentonite clay or biochar) or compost [...] Read more.
Nutrient-rich organic wastes and soil ameliorants can benefit crop performance and soil health but can also prevent crop nutrient sufficiency or increase greenhouse gas emissions. We hypothesised that nitrogen (N)-rich agricultural waste (poultry litter) amended with sorbents (bentonite clay or biochar) or compost (high C/N ratio) attenuates the concentration of inorganic nitrogen (N) in soil and reduces emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O). We tested this hypothesis with a field experiment conducted on a commercial sugarcane farm, using in vitro incubations. Treatments received 160 kg N ha−1, either from mineral fertiliser or poultry litter, with additional N (2–60 kg N ha−1) supplied by the sorbents and compost. Crop yield was similar in all N treatments, indicating N sufficiency, with the poultry litter + biochar treatment statistically matching the yield of the no-N control. Confirming our hypothesis, mineral N fertiliser resulted in the highest concentrations of soil inorganic N, followed by poultry litter and the amended poultry formulations. Reflecting the soil inorganic N concentrations, the average N2O emission factors ranked as per the following: mineral fertiliser 8.02% > poultry litter 6.77% > poultry litter + compost 6.75% > poultry litter + bentonite 5.5% > poultry litter + biochar 3.4%. All emission factors exceeded the IPCC Tier 1 default for managed soils (1%) and the Australian Government default for sugarcane soil (1.25%). Our findings reinforce concerns that current default emissions factors underestimate N2O emissions. The laboratory incubations broadly matched the field N2O emissions, indicating that in vitro testing is a cost-effective first step to guide the blending of organic wastes in a way that ensures N sufficiency for crops but minimises N losses. We conclude that suitable sorbent-waste formulations that attenuate N release will advance N efficiency and the circular nutrient economy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restorative Agriculture)
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Article
Definition of Ecological Flow Using IHA and IARI as an Operative Procedure for Water Management
Environments 2021, 8(8), 77; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8080077 - 10 Aug 2021
Viewed by 506
Abstract
It is widely recognized that the hydrological regime of natural flow plays a primary and crucial role in influencing the physical condition of habitats, which, in turn, determines the biotic composition and sustainability of aquatic ecosystems. The current hydro-ecological understanding states that all [...] Read more.
It is widely recognized that the hydrological regime of natural flow plays a primary and crucial role in influencing the physical condition of habitats, which, in turn, determines the biotic composition and sustainability of aquatic ecosystems. The current hydro-ecological understanding states that all flow components might be considered as operational targets for water management, starting from base flows (including low flows) to high and flood regimes in terms of magnitude, frequency, duration, timing, and rate of change. Several codes have been developed and applied on different case studies in order to define common tools to be implemented for Eflow assessment. This work deals with the definition of an operative procedure for the evaluation of the Eflow monthly distribution to be adopted in a generic watercourse cross-section for sustainable surface water resource management and exploitation. The methodology proposes the application of the Indicators of Hydrologic Alteration methodology (IHA by TNC) coupled to the valuation of the Index of Hydrological Regime Alteration (IARI by ISPRA) as an operative tool to define the ecological flow in each monitoring cross-section to support sustainable water resource management and planning. The case study of the Agri River in Basilicata (Southern Italy) is presented. The analyses were carried out based on monthly discharge data derived by applying the HEC-Hydrological Modeling System at the basin scale using the daily rain data measurements obtained by the regional rainfall gauge stations and calibrated through the observed inlet water discharge registered at the Lago del Pertusillo reservoir station. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring and Management of Inland Waters)
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Article
A Global Meta-Analysis for Estimating Local Ecosystem Service Value Functions
Environments 2021, 8(8), 76; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8080076 - 09 Aug 2021
Viewed by 621
Abstract
The Meta-analysis has increasingly been used to synthesize the ecosystem services literature, with some testing of the use of such analyses to transfer benefits. These are typically based on local primary studies. However, meta-analyses associated with ecosystem services are a potentially powerful tool [...] Read more.
The Meta-analysis has increasingly been used to synthesize the ecosystem services literature, with some testing of the use of such analyses to transfer benefits. These are typically based on local primary studies. However, meta-analyses associated with ecosystem services are a potentially powerful tool for transferring benefits, especially for environmental assets for which no primary studies are available. In this study we use the Ecosystem Service Valuation Database (ESVD), which brings together 1350 value estimates from more than 320 studies around the world, to estimate meta-regression functions for Provisioning, Regulating and maintenance, and Cultural ecosystem services across 12 biomes. We tested the reliability of these meta-regression functions and found that even using variables with high explanatory power, transfer errors could still be large. We show that meta-analytic transfer performs better than simple value transfer and, in addition, that local meta-analytical transfer (i.e., based on local explanatory variable values) provides more reliable estimates than global meta-analytical transfer (i.e., based on mean global explanatory variable values). Thus, we conclude that when taking into account the characteristics of the study area under analysis, including explanatory variables such as income, population density, and protection status, we can determine the value of ecosystem services with greater accuracy. Full article
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Article
Indoor and Outdoor Nanoparticle Concentrations in an Urban Background Area in Northern Sweden: The NanoOffice Study
Environments 2021, 8(8), 75; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8080075 - 09 Aug 2021
Viewed by 655
Abstract
In recent years, nanoparticles (NPs) have received much attention due to their very small size, high penetration capacity, and high toxicity. In urban environments, combustion-formed nanoparticles (CFNPs) dominate in particle number concentrations (PNCs), and exposure to those particles constitutes a risk to human [...] Read more.
In recent years, nanoparticles (NPs) have received much attention due to their very small size, high penetration capacity, and high toxicity. In urban environments, combustion-formed nanoparticles (CFNPs) dominate in particle number concentrations (PNCs), and exposure to those particles constitutes a risk to human health. Even though fine particles (<2.5 µm) are regularly monitored, information on NP concentrations, both indoors and outdoors, is still limited. In the NanoOffice study, concentrations of nanoparticles (10–300 nm) were measured both indoors and outdoors with a 5-min time resolution at twelve office buildings in Umeå. Measurements were taken during a one-week period in the heating season and a one-week period in the non-heating season. The measuring equipment SMPS 3938 was used for indoor measurements, and DISCmini was used for outdoor measurements. The NP concentrations were highest in offices close to a bus terminal and lowest in offices near a park. In addition, a temporal effect appeared, usually with higher concentrations of nanoparticles found during daytime in the urban background area, whereas considerably lower nanoparticle concentrations were often present during nighttime. Infiltration of nanoparticles from the outdoor air into the indoor air was also common. However, the indoor/outdoor ratios (I/O ratios) of NPs showed large variations between buildings, seasons, and time periods, with I/O ratios in the range of 0.06 to 0.59. The reasons for high indoor infiltration rates could be NP emissions from adjacent outdoor sources. We could also see particle growth since the indoor NPs were, on average, almost twice as large as the NPs measured outdoors. Despite relatively low concentrations of NPs in the urban background air during nighttime, they could rise to very high daytime concentrations due to local sources, and those particles also infiltrated the indoor air. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indoor and Outdoor Air Particulate Matter)
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Article
Microplastic and Organic Fibres in Feeding, Growth and Mortality of Gammarus pulex
Environments 2021, 8(8), 74; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8080074 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 568
Abstract
Microplastic fibres (MPFs) are a major source of microplastic pollution, most are released during domestic washing of synthetic clothing. Organic microfibres (OMF) are also released into the environment by the same means, with cotton and wool being the most common in the UK. [...] Read more.
Microplastic fibres (MPFs) are a major source of microplastic pollution, most are released during domestic washing of synthetic clothing. Organic microfibres (OMF) are also released into the environment by the same means, with cotton and wool being the most common in the UK. There is little empirical evidence to demonstrate that plastic fibres are more harmful than organic fibres if ingested by freshwater animals such as Gammarus pulex. Using our method of feeding Gammarus MPFs embedded in algal wafers, we compared the ingestion, feeding behaviour and growth of Gammarus exposed to 70 µm sheep wool, 20 µm cotton, 30 µm acrylic wool, and 50 µm or 100 µm human hair, and 30 µm cat hair at a concentration of 3% fibre by mass. Gammarus would not ingest wafers containing human hair, or sheep wool fibres. Given the choice between control wafers and those contaminated with MPF, cat hair or cotton, Gammarus spent less time feeding on MPF but there was no difference in the time spent feeding on OMFs compared to the control. Given a choice between contaminated wafers, Gammarus preferred the OMF to the MPF. There were no significant differences in growth or mortality among any of the treatments. These results conclude that MPFs are less likely to be ingested by Gammarus if alternative food is available and are not more harmful than OMFs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plastic Contamination: Challenges and Solutions)
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Review
A Review of Landfills, Waste and the Nearly Forgotten Nexus with Climate Change
Environments 2021, 8(8), 73; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8080073 - 30 Jul 2021
Viewed by 624
Abstract
Landfills have been considered the most convenient approach for dealing with waste from time immemorial, even though some have led to disasters of catastrophic proportions. Moreover, recent findings by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggest that the decomposing fraction of landfill [...] Read more.
Landfills have been considered the most convenient approach for dealing with waste from time immemorial, even though some have led to disasters of catastrophic proportions. Moreover, recent findings by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggest that the decomposing fraction of landfill waste that generates greenhouse gases (GHGs) may not be adequately accounted for and could become a critical issue in our effort to restrict atmospheric temperature increases to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. (According to the IPCC, the maximum atmospheric temperature rise is a factor of cumulative net CO2 emissions as well as net non-CO2 radiative forcing. These anthropogenic forcing agents include methane, nitrous oxide and other trace gases from landfill sites. In that sense, landfills can tip the balance from 1.5 towards 2 degrees of warming). This paper draws on data from a number of countries for review and is a timely reminder that society needs to develop a more environmentally and socially sensitive set of methods that could ultimately replace landfills. The paper first examines problems connected with landfills and evaluates alternatives such as incineration, biomass burning and mechanical biological treatment, which generally present their own problems. The paper then considers the range of materials conventionally dispatched to landfill, dealing with them in the context of a zero-waste philosophy. The conclusions propose more disciplined waste management to embrace collective accountability, wherein those who create the waste—chiefly, households and businesses—would be expected to deal with it responsibly. With attitudinal changes and education, supported by regulatory measures, it should be possible to reach the long-term objective of zero waste and the retirement of the traditional landfill. Full article
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Article
Investigating Spatiotemporal Variability of Water, Energy, and Carbon Flows: A Probabilistic Fuzzy Synthetic Evaluation Framework for Higher Education Institutions
Environments 2021, 8(8), 72; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8080072 - 30 Jul 2021
Viewed by 546
Abstract
Higher education institutions (HEIs) consume significant energy and water and contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. HEIs are under pressure internally and externally to improve their overall performance on reducing GHG emissions within their boundaries. It is necessary to identify critical areas of [...] Read more.
Higher education institutions (HEIs) consume significant energy and water and contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. HEIs are under pressure internally and externally to improve their overall performance on reducing GHG emissions within their boundaries. It is necessary to identify critical areas of high GHG emissions within a campus to help find solutions to improve the overall sustainability performance of the campus. An integrated probabilistic-fuzzy framework is developed to help universities address the uncertainty associated with the reporting of water, energy, and carbon (WEC) flows within a campus. The probabilistic assessment using Monte Carlo Simulations effectively addressed the aleatory uncertainties, due to the randomness in the variations of the recorded WEC usages, while the fuzzy synthetic evaluation addressed the epistemic uncertainties, due to vagueness in the linguistic variables associated with WEC benchmarks. The developed framework is applied to operational, academic, and residential buildings at the University of British Columbia (Okanagan Campus). Three scenarios are analyzed, allocating the partial preference to water, or energy, or carbon. Furthermore, nine temporal seasons are generated to assess the variability, due to occupancy and climate changes. Finally, the aggregation is completed for the assessed buildings. The study reveals that climatic and type of buildings significantly affect the overall performance of a university. This study will help the sustainability centers and divisions in HEIs assess the spatiotemporal variability of WEC flows and effectively address the uncertainties to cover a wide range of human judgment. Full article
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Article
Taking Kinetic Evaluations of Degradation Data to the Next Level with Nonlinear Mixed-Effects Models
Environments 2021, 8(8), 71; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8080071 - 28 Jul 2021
Viewed by 545
Abstract
When data on the degradation of a chemical substance have been collected in a number of environmental media (e.g., in different soils), two strategies can be followed for data evaluation. Currently, each individual dataset is evaluated separately, and representative degradation parameters are obtained [...] Read more.
When data on the degradation of a chemical substance have been collected in a number of environmental media (e.g., in different soils), two strategies can be followed for data evaluation. Currently, each individual dataset is evaluated separately, and representative degradation parameters are obtained by calculating averages of the kinetic parameters. However, such averages often take on unrealistic values if certain degradation parameters are ill-defined in some of the datasets. Moreover, the most appropriate degradation model is selected for each individual dataset, which is time consuming and then requires workarounds for averaging parameters from different models. Therefore, a simultaneous evaluation of all available data is desirable. If the environmental media are viewed as random samples from a population, an advanced strategy based on assumptions about the statistical distribution of the kinetic parameters across the population can be used. Here, we show the advantages of such simultaneous evaluations based on nonlinear mixed-effects models that incorporate such assumptions in the evaluation process. The advantages of this approach are demonstrated using synthetically generated data with known statistical properties and using publicly available experimental degradation data on two pesticidal active substances. Full article
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Article
Depuration Performance of Aerated Tanks Simulating Lagoons to Treat Olive Oil Mill Wastewater under Different Airflow Rates, and Concentrations of Polyphenols and Nitrogen
Environments 2021, 8(8), 70; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8080070 - 23 Jul 2021
Viewed by 612
Abstract
The uncontrolled disposal of olive oil mill wastewater (OMW) is hazardous for the health of water and soil, since this wastewater shows low pH and high contents of organic matter and polyphenols (PP). Lagooning is one of the most common treatment systems for [...] Read more.
The uncontrolled disposal of olive oil mill wastewater (OMW) is hazardous for the health of water and soil, since this wastewater shows low pH and high contents of organic matter and polyphenols (PP). Lagooning is one of the most common treatment systems for agro-industrial wastewater (such as OMW), due to its low cost and easy management. Aeration allows reducing the low depuration time, which is a constraint for this system. Despite this potential feasibility, literature about OMW lagooning is not abundant. Moreover, the effects of the aeration rates, concentration of polyphenols and nitrogen shortage on depuration performance of lagoons treating OMW have not been properly explored. This study analyzes the removal rates of COD and PP, and variations of pH in OMW treated in aerated tanks at the laboratory scale simulating lagooning systems. Compared to the non-aerated tanks, aeration of OMW increased the removal rates from 61% to 90% (for COD) and from 52% to 64% (for PP). Permanent aeration was more advisable compared to intermittent flow rates. Increasing concentrations of PP noticeably reduced the COD removal rates, which were halved at a 4-fold PP concentration. In contrast, the PP removal rate was constant at every concentration experimented. Compared to the COD:N value suggested by literature for aerobic processes (100:5), a shortage in nitrogen availability reduced both COD (by about 20–25%) and PP removal rates (by 25%), the latter only when COD:N was higher 400:5. The pH was less influenced by the variations in aeration rates, PP concentration and COD:N ratio compared to COD and PP removal. This investigation provides indications about the most suitable operation parameters (airflow rates, inhibiting PP concentration, and optimal COD:N) in aerated lagooning of OMW towards environmentally sound treatments of highly polluting wastewater. Full article
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Article
Applying Biodiversity Metrics as Surrogates to a Habitat Conservation Plan
Environments 2021, 8(8), 69; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8080069 - 23 Jul 2021
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Abstract
Unabated urbanization has led to environmental degradation and subsequent biodiversity loss across the globe. As an outcome of unmitigated land use, multi-jurisdictional agencies have developed land use plans that attempt to protect threatened or endangered species across selected areas by which some trade-offs [...] Read more.
Unabated urbanization has led to environmental degradation and subsequent biodiversity loss across the globe. As an outcome of unmitigated land use, multi-jurisdictional agencies have developed land use plans that attempt to protect threatened or endangered species across selected areas by which some trade-offs between harm to species and additional conservation approaches are allowed among the partnering organizations. Typical conservation plans can be created to focus on single or multiple species, and although they may protect a species or groups of species, they may not account for biodiversity or its protection across the given area. We applied an approach that clustered deductive habitat models for terrestrial vertebrates into metrics that serve as surrogates for biodiversity and relate to ecosystem services. In order to evaluate this process, we collaborated with the partnering agencies who are creating a Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan in southern California and compared it to the entire Mojave Desert Ecoregion. We focused on total terrestrial vertebrate species richness and taxon groupings representing amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles, and two special status species using the Normalized Index of Biodiversity (NIB). The conservation planning area had a lower NIB and was less species rich than the Mojave Desert Ecoregion, but the Mojave River riparian corridor had a higher NIB and was more species-rich, and while taxon analysis varied across the geographies, this pattern generally held. Additionally, we analyzed desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) and desert kit fox (Vulpes macrotis arsipus) as umbrella species and determined that both species are associated with increased NIB and large numbers of species for the conservation area. Our process provided the ability to incorporate value-added surrogate information into a formal land use planning process and used a metric, NIB, which allowed comparison of the various planning areas and geographic units. Although this process has been applied to Apple Valley, CA, and other geographies within the U.S., the approach has practical application for other global biodiversity initiatives. Full article
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