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Special Issue "Environmental Hygiene, Water Quality and Human Health"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Global Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Osvalda De Giglio
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Biomedical Science and Human Oncology, University of Bari, Italy
Interests: infectious disease epidemiology; water hygiene; environmental health; public health; Legionella; waterborne diseases

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In recent years, many water-borne diseases from contaminated water resources have been reported by countries with varying levels of economic development. These diseases are caused by pathogenic microorganisms of enteric origin, distributed by anthropogenic and natural processes, such as grazing, manure spreading, and uncontrolled sewage disposal. Runoff processes mobilize these microorganisms, leading to potential contamination of surface water, groundwater through soil infiltration, and recreational water such as seawater. Different environmental factors such as global climate change influence the prevalence and degree of water contamination. Anthropic pressure causes considerable exploitation of water resources, leading to reduced water availability and the progressive deterioration of water quality. From this follows the use of treated and untreated wastewater responsible for some phenomena that pose a risk to human health such as the onset of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and microbial outbreaks linked with agricultural reuse of wastewater. In this Special Issue, the submission of papers focused on main factors that make water resources vulnerable, innovative methods and strategies for the monitoring of water intended for human consumption, recreational water, and reuse of waters through water treatment systems (e.g., for irrigation use). New or improved strategies to identify the measures necessary to reduce contamination and mitigate the risks associated with the use of contaminated water resources are welcome.

Dr. Osvalda De Giglio
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be 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. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 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 2300 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

  • Environmental hygiene
  • Water contamination
  • Human health
  • Waterborne diseases
  • Recreational water
  • Emerging pollutants
  • Drinking water
  • Water disinfection
  • Water resource monitoring

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Article
Major Stressors Favoring Cholera Trigger and Dissemination in Guinea-Bissau (West Africa)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(21), 11296; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph182111296 - 27 Oct 2021
Viewed by 476
Abstract
Cholera remains a heavy burden worldwide, especially in Sub-Saharan African countries, which account for the majority of the reported cases on the continent. In this study, a 27-year retrospective analysis of cholera epidemics in Guinea-Bissau was performed in order to highlight major stressors [...] Read more.
Cholera remains a heavy burden worldwide, especially in Sub-Saharan African countries, which account for the majority of the reported cases on the continent. In this study, a 27-year retrospective analysis of cholera epidemics in Guinea-Bissau was performed in order to highlight major stressors fueling the trigger and dissemination of the disease. Although the role of environmental factors did not always have the same degree of importance for the onset of epidemics, a cholera seasonal pattern was clearly perceived, with most of the reported cases occurring during the wet season. The generated theoretical hypothesis indicated rainfall above climatological average, associated with a lack of WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) infrastructure, and the occurrence of concomitant epidemics in neighboring countries as the key indicators for optimal conditions for cholera to thrive in Guinea-Bissau. Warmer air temperature, the increase in sea surface temperature, and the decrease in salinity in the coastal areas may also contribute to the emergence and/or aggravation of cholera events. Prediction of the conditions favorable for cholera growth and identification of risk pathways will allow the timely allocation of resources, and support the development of alert tools and mitigation strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Hygiene, Water Quality and Human Health)
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Article
Contextual Determinants of General Household Hygiene Conditions in Rural Indonesia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(21), 11064; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph182111064 - 21 Oct 2021
Viewed by 409
Abstract
Household hygiene is critical to prevent pathogen transmission at the household level. Assessing household hygiene conditions and their determinants are needed to improve hygiene conditions, especially in rural and less developed areas where the housing conditions are relatively worse than they are in [...] Read more.
Household hygiene is critical to prevent pathogen transmission at the household level. Assessing household hygiene conditions and their determinants are needed to improve hygiene conditions, especially in rural and less developed areas where the housing conditions are relatively worse than they are in urban areas. This study used data from 278 household interviews and observations in rural areas in the district of East Sumba, province East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. The data were analyzed using statistical methods. In general, the household hygiene conditions in the study need to be improved. The main potential sources of pathogen transmission were from the surrounding environment, i.e., non-permanent floor and garbage, and personal hygiene, i.e., handwashing facilities with water and soap were only observed in the homes of four out of ten respondents. The presence of livestock roaming freely in the house’s yard was another source of contamination. Easy access to water and wealth significantly influenced the hygiene conditions. Implementing low-cost interventions, i.e., cleaning the house of garbage and animal feces and cleaning nails, should be the priority in immediate intervention, while providing easier access to water supply, especially during the dry season, could be a long-term intervention. This paper also argues that analyzing household hygiene conditions or practices should be complemented by analyzing contextual determinants of the hygiene conditions or practices, so that we can develop more precise intervention by considering the local or household context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Hygiene, Water Quality and Human Health)
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Article
Potential Use of Untreated Wastewater for Assessing COVID-19 Trends in Southern Italy
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(19), 10278; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph181910278 - 29 Sep 2021
Viewed by 518
Abstract
As a complement to clinical disease surveillance, the monitoring of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in wastewater can be used as an early warning system for impending epidemics. This study investigated the dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 in untreated wastewater with respect to [...] Read more.
As a complement to clinical disease surveillance, the monitoring of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in wastewater can be used as an early warning system for impending epidemics. This study investigated the dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 in untreated wastewater with respect to the trend of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) prevalence in Southern Italy. A total of 210 wastewater samples were collected between May and November 2020 from 15 Apulian wastewater treatment plants (WWTP). The samples were concentrated in accordance with the standard of World Health Organization (WHO, Geneva, Switzerland) procedure for Poliovirus sewage surveillance, and molecular analysis was undertaken with real-time reverse-transcription quantitative PCR (RT-(q) PCR). Viral ribonucleic acid (RNA) was found in 12.4% (26/210) of the samples. The virus concentration in the positive samples ranged from 8.8 × 102 to 6.5 × 104 genome copies/L. The receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve modeling showed that at least 11 cases/100,000 inhabitants would occur after a wastewater sample was found to be positive for SARS-CoV-2 (sensitivity = 80%, specificity = 80.9%). To our knowledge, this is the first study in Italy that has applied wastewater-based epidemiology to predict COVID-19 prevalence. Further studies regarding methods that include all variables (meteorological phenomena, characteristics of the WWTP, etc.) affecting this type of wastewater surveillance data would be useful to improve data interpretation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Hygiene, Water Quality and Human Health)
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Article
Evaluation of Antibiotic Resistance in Bacterial Strains Isolated from Sewage of Slaughterhouses Located in Sicily (Italy)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(18), 9611; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18189611 - 12 Sep 2021
Viewed by 670
Abstract
Antimicrobial resistance is presently one of the most public health critical concerns. The frequent and often incorrect use of antibiotics in animal husbandry has led to the spread of antimicrobial resistance in this setting. Wastewater from slaughterhouses can be contaminated with multidrug-resistant bacteria, [...] Read more.
Antimicrobial resistance is presently one of the most public health critical concerns. The frequent and often incorrect use of antibiotics in animal husbandry has led to the spread of antimicrobial resistance in this setting. Wastewater from slaughterhouses can be contaminated with multidrug-resistant bacteria, representing a possible cross-contamination route. We evaluated the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in wastewater samples from slaughterhouses located in an Italian region. Specifically, 18 slaughterhouses were included in the study. Of the tested samples, 40 bacterial strains were chosen, identified, and tested for antibiotic susceptibility. Pseudomonas spp., Proteus spp., Enterobacter spp., Aeromonas spp., and Citrobacter spp. were the most detected genera. The most resistant strains were on average those belonging to Enterobacter spp. The highest resistance rate was recorded for macrolides. Among β-lactams, penicillins and cephalosporins were by far the molecules towards which the highest resistance was detected. A very interesting finding is the difference found in strains detected in wastewater from poultry slaughterhouses, in which higher levels for almost all the considered drugs were detected compared to those from ungulates slaughterhouses. Our results indicate wastewater from slaughterhouses as a potential vehicle of resistant bacteria and highlight the importance of correct management of these kinds of waters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Hygiene, Water Quality and Human Health)
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Article
Application of Multivariate Statistical Techniques and Water Quality Index for the Assessment of Water Quality and Apportionment of Pollution Sources in the Yeongsan River, South Korea
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(16), 8268; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18168268 - 04 Aug 2021
Viewed by 833
Abstract
This study assessed spatial and temporal variations of water quality to identify and quantify possible pollution sources affecting the Yeongsan River using multivariate statistical techniques (MSTs) and water quality index (WQI) values. A 15 year dataset of 11 water quality variables was used, [...] Read more.
This study assessed spatial and temporal variations of water quality to identify and quantify possible pollution sources affecting the Yeongsan River using multivariate statistical techniques (MSTs) and water quality index (WQI) values. A 15 year dataset of 11 water quality variables was used, covering 16 monitoring sites. The nutrient regime, organic matter, suspended solids, ionic contents, algal growth, and total coliform bacteria (TCB) were affected by the summer monsoon and the construction of weirs. Regression analysis showed that the algal growth was more highly regulated by total phosphorus (TP; R2 = 0.37) than total nitrogen (TN, R2 = 0.25) and TN/TP (R2 = 0.01) ratios in the river after weir construction and indicated that the river is a P-limited system. After constructing the weirs, the mean TN/TP ratio in the river was about 40, meaning it is a P-limited system. Cluster analysis was used to classify the sampling sites into highly, moderately, and less polluted sites based on water quality features. Stepwise discriminant analysis showed that pH, dissolved oxygen (DO), TN, biological oxygen demand (BOD), chemical oxygen demand (COD), chlorophyll-a (CHL-a), and TCB are the spatially discriminating parameters, while pH, water temperature, DO, electrical conductivity, total suspended solids, and COD are the most significant for discriminating among the three seasons. The Pearson network analysis showed that nutrients flow with organic matter in the river, while CHL-a showed the highest correlation with COD (r = 0.85), followed by TP (r = 0.49) and TN (r = 0.49). Average WQI values ranged from 55 to 141, indicating poor to unsuitable water quality in the river. The Mann–Kendall test showed increasing trends in COD and CHL-a but decreasing trends for TP, TN, and BOD due to impoundment effects. The principal component analysis combined with factor analysis and positive matrix factorization (PMF) showed that two sewage treatment plants, agricultural activities, and livestock farming adversely impacted river water quality. The PMF model returned greater R2 values for BOD (0.92), COD (0.87), TP (0.93), TN (0.91), CHL-a (0.93), and TCB (0.83), indicating reliable apportionment results. Our results suggest that MSTs and WQI can be effectively used for the simple interpretation of large-scale datasets to determine pollution sources and their spatiotemporal variations. The outcomes of our study may aid policymakers in managing the Yeongsan River. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Hygiene, Water Quality and Human Health)
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Article
Association of Physicochemical Characteristics, Aggregate Indices, Major Ions, and Trace Elements in Developing Groundwater Quality Index (GWQI) in Agricultural Area
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(9), 4562; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18094562 - 25 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 839
Abstract
The aim of this study was to propose a groundwater quality index (GWQI) that presents water quality data as a single number and represents the water quality level. The development of the GWQI in agricultural areas is vital as the groundwater considered as [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to propose a groundwater quality index (GWQI) that presents water quality data as a single number and represents the water quality level. The development of the GWQI in agricultural areas is vital as the groundwater considered as an alternative water source for domestic purposes. The insufficiency of the groundwater quality standard in Malaysia revealed the importance of the GWQI development in determining the quality of groundwater. Groundwater samples were collected from thirteen groundwater wells in the Northern Kuala Langat and the Southern Kuala Langat regions from February 2018 to January 2019. Thirty-four parameters that embodied physicochemical characteristics, aggregate indicator, major ions, and trace elements were considered in the development of the GWQI. Multivariate analysis has been used to finalize the important parameters by using principal component analysis (PCA). Notably, seven parameters—electrical conductivity, chemical oxygen demand (COD), magnesium, calcium, potassium, sodium, and chloride were chosen to evaluate the quality of groundwater. The GWQI was then verified by comparing the groundwater quality in Kota Bharu, Kelantan. A sensitivity analysis was performed on this index to verify its reliability. The sensitivity GWQI has been analyzed and showed high sensitivity to any changes of the pollutant parameters. The development of GWQI should be beneficial to the public, practitioners, and industries. From another angle, this index can help to detect any form of pollution which ultimately could be minimized by controlling the sources of pollutants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Hygiene, Water Quality and Human Health)
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Communication
Evaluation of Legionella spp. Colonization in Residential Buildings Having Solar Thermal System for Hot Water Production
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(19), 7050; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17197050 - 26 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 711
Abstract
Despite an increase of literature data on Legionella spp. presence in private water systems, epidemiological reports assert a continuing high incidence of Legionnaires’ disease infection in Italy. In this study, we report a survey on Legionella spp. colonization in 58 buildings with solar [...] Read more.
Despite an increase of literature data on Legionella spp. presence in private water systems, epidemiological reports assert a continuing high incidence of Legionnaires’ disease infection in Italy. In this study, we report a survey on Legionella spp. colonization in 58 buildings with solar thermal systems for hot water production (TB). In all buildings, Legionella spp. presence was enumerated in hot and cold water samples. Microbiological potability standards of cold water were also evaluated. Legionella spp. was detected in 40% of the buildings. Moreover, we detected correlations between the count of Legionella spp. and the presence of the optimal temperature for the microorganism growth (less than 40 °C). Our results showed that cold water was free from microbiological hazards, but Legionella spp., was detected when the mean cold water temperature was 19.1 ± 2.2 °C. This may considered close to the suboptimal value for the Legionella growth (more then 20 °C). In conclusion, we observed the presence of a Legionnaires’ disease risk and the need of some strategies aimed to reduce it, such as the application of training programs for all the workers involved in water systems maintenance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Hygiene, Water Quality and Human Health)
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Article
Food Hygiene Surveillance in Italy: Is Food Ice a Public Health Risk?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2408; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17072408 - 02 Apr 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 944
Abstract
Food ice is used as an ingredient or as a coolant in drinks and in the storage of food, especially fishery products. Studies show that ice can be polluted both by chemical substances and by bacteria and fungi. In particular, the presence of [...] Read more.
Food ice is used as an ingredient or as a coolant in drinks and in the storage of food, especially fishery products. Studies show that ice can be polluted both by chemical substances and by bacteria and fungi. In particular, the presence of fungi in these food matrices has acquired an important role in Public Health, as it can represent a risk factor for fungal complications in immunocompromised subjects. In the present study we evaluated the hygiene–sanitary quality of food ice from public and collective catering establishments in a large area of Southern Italy, investigating the mandatory parameters (Escherichia coli, coliform and Enterococci) and some accessory parameters (Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and fungi) provided for Italian Legislative Decree 31/01. Although 54.5% of samples were compliant, the results highlight a vast contamination of food ice by bacteria and fungi. In particular, 95.8% of samples were contaminated by fungi, stressing no difference between compliant and non-compliant samples. Their presence is generally attributable to the poor sanitation conditions in the production and/or administration phase and to the incorrect sanitization and ordinary maintenance procedures. It seems appropriate to suggest the need to carry out a specific risk assessment with respect to the self-control plans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Hygiene, Water Quality and Human Health)
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