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Journal: Environmental monitoring and assessment


In war zones, the explosion of bombs, bullets, and other ammunition releases multiple neurotoxicants into the environment. The Middle East is currently the site of heavy environmental disruption by massive bombardments. A very large number of US military bases, which release highly toxic environmental contaminants, have also been erected since 2003. Current knowledge supports the hypothesis that war-created pollution is a major cause of rising birth defects and cancers in Iraq. We created elemental bio-imaging of trace elements in deciduous teeth of children with birth defects from Iraq. Healthy and naturally shed teeth from Lebanon and Iran were also analyzed for trace elements. Lead (Pb) was highest in teeth from children with birth defects who donated their teeth from Basra, Iraq (mean 0.73-16.74 (208)Pb/(43)Ca ppm, n = 3). Pb in healthy Lebanese and Iranian teeth were 0.038-0.382 (208)Pb/(43)Ca ppm (n = 4) and 0.041-0.31 (208)Pb/(43)Ca ppm (n = 2), respectively. Our hypothesis that increased war activity coincides with increased metal levels in deciduous teeth is confirmed by this research. Lead levels were similar in Lebanese and Iranian deciduous teeth. Deciduous teeth from Iraqi children with birth defects had remarkably higher levels of Pb. Two Iraqi teeth had four times more Pb, and one tooth had as much as 50 times more Pb than samples from Lebanon and Iran.

Concepts: Middle East, Iran, Western Asia, Persian language, Arabic language, Iraq, Central Asia, Baghdad


Steroid oestrogens (SE) are released by humans and animals into the environment. In the Mekong Delta animal excrement is directly discharged into surface water and can pollute the water. Only a few animal production sites are currently treating the excrement in either biogas plants or vermicomposting systems. The concentration of SE in manures from pigs and cattle was monitored in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam. Fresh cow faeces had an oestrogen concentration of 3.3 ng E2 eq/g dry weight. The SE concentration in effluent from biogas plants fed with animal manures was 341 ng E2 eq/L. Most of the SE were in the solid phase (77.9-98.7%). Vermicomposting reduced SE to 95% of the original input.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Plant, Cattle, Anaerobic digestion, Feces, Compost, Manure, Cow dung


Concentrations of ten heavy elements (Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb, and Zn), as well as the pH values, organic matter contents, and electrical conductivities were measured in the surface soil samples collected from 21 sites of urban areas in the city of Novi Sad, the second largest city in Serbia, its suburban settlement and the nearby villages. Range of the heavy element concentrations was from 0.16 mg/kg (for Hg) to 18,994 mg/kg (for Fe). Significantly higher Hg and Mn concentrations were observed in subgroups with rural and market garden samples in comparison to the subgroups with urban and grassland samples, respectively, while the contents of Pb found in the grasslands subgroup were significantly higher than in the subgroup with market garden soils. Only one sample of urban soil exceeded the maximum permissible value for Zn set by the relevant Serbian legislation. According to the Dutch soil quality standard, the Cd and Co concentrations in majority of the examined soils were higher than the target values for unpolluted soil. The content of Hg was above the target value in 52% of the samples, most of them belonging to the subgroup of market garden soils. The results for the Novi Sad city area were compared to the relevant data available for other cities in the Western Balkan Countries. Principal component analysis of data revealed seven outlying samples, while the rest of the analyzed samples were grouped together indicating similar heavy element patterns most probably due to mixed emission sources.

Concepts: City, Serbs, Serbia, Town, Vojvodina, Novi Sad, Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro


In ambient particle source apportionment studies, data for holidays such as July 4 (US Independence Day) are normally removed because of the high concentrations of chemical species and unusually high particle mass concentrations that are due to fireworks. Many cultures celebrate events with fireworks. A near real-time measurement that could indicate fireworks would be useful in indicating their impact on air quality. Commonly monitored ambient pollutants include PM(2.5), CO, SO(2), O(3), 10-500-nm particle number, and black carbon (BC). Using a two-wavelength aethalometer, another parameter, delta-C (UVBC(370 nm)-BC(880 nm), aethalometer), can be calculated. These variables were continuously monitored during July 1-7, 2005-2010, in Rochester, New York. High delta-C values are normally associated with biomass combustion particles. However, statistically higher delta-C values were observed on Independence Day compared to the other period. Back trajectory analysis showed transport of local fireworks smoke to the sampling site on the night of July 4. An enhanced correlation between delta-C and BC during the fireworks episodes suggests changes from the usual BC sources. Fireworks emissions changed the ambient carbonaceous particulate species during these intervals. The delta-C value was found to be a readily measured indicator of fireworks emissions during periods when wood combustion was not likely to be present and provides a tool for monitoring such emissions where they might be more common such as amusement parks.

Concepts: United States, Chemistry, Fireworks, Biomass, Chicago, New York, United States Declaration of Independence, American Revolution


The Mann-Kendall test has been proposed as a nonparametric method to evaluate trends in long-term water quality datasets with missing values, serial correlation, and non-normality. However, this test has rarely been used to evaluate long-term trends in biological data. In this study, we used the Mann-Kendall test to evaluate trends in 15 years of data on benthic macroinvertebrate communities from 17 Precambrian Shield lakes. We also used the van Belle and Hughes test of trend homogeneity to assess whether common among-lake temporal trends existed. We assumed that evidence of a common regional trend among lakes would support the hypothesis of long-term biological recovery from past acidification. We found decreasing proportions of Chironomidae and increasing proportions of Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera (EPT) in both single-lake and multi-lake trend analysis. Moreover, six of the nine lakes with significant trends in more than one benthos metric displayed a significant decrease in Chironomidae and increase in EPT concurrently, indicating a shift towards more acid-sensitive taxa. Weak trends in several of the biological metrics indicated that recovery in these lakes has been impeded. Results of this study indicate that the Mann-Kendall and van Belle and Hughes trend tests are useful statistical tools to evaluate long-term patterns in biological data.

Concepts: Statistics, Biology, Insect, Evaluation, Data, Trend, Paleontology, Benthic zone


This work established background concentrations for the pseudo total (HNO(3) + H(2)O(2)-soluble), mobilisable (NH(4)-acetate + EDTA-soluble) and mobile (1 M NH(4)NO(3)-soluble) element fractions of Hungarian surface soils that can be used as reference values for the soil quality standards. The 193 soils investigated were taken from the Hungarian Soil Information and Monitoring System. The background values for Al, As, B, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sr and Zn were given as a range covering 95% of the variance of the representative samples. The differences between observed element concentrations and the calculated background values indicated anthropogenic or pedogenic impact in each fraction. The comparison of the calculated background values with the Hungarian quality standards and the contamination limit values of other countries showed that the limit values of a certain region or country are not suitable for other areas. Generally, Mn and Al had the highest, while Cd had the lowest concentration in each fraction. Cr and Al were the least and Sr was the most mobile element. The principal component analysis indicated different geochemical and physico-chemical behaviour of the elements in the fractions; the pseudo total fraction was influenced more by the geological behaviour, while mobilisable and mobile fraction explained a much higher proportion of the total variance of soil physico-chemical properties than soil geochemical properties. The Cd-Ni and Co-Mn element pairs were always in the same principal component in each fractions indicating similar geogenic origin and showing that their solubility changes are similar in function of soil properties.

Concepts: Chemistry, Soil, Chemical element, Zinc, Copper, Principal component analysis, Trigraph, Law of total variance


We investigated the occurrence and distribution patterns of 2,3,7,8-substituted polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) in six sediment samples from the Xiangjiang River, Hunan Province, People’s Republic of China. Total concentrations of PCDD/Fs ranged from 876 to 497,759 (mean 160,766) ng/kg dw, the highest of which exceeded that have ever been reported for sediment samples. World Health Organization total toxicity equivalent (WHO-TEQ) concentrations in three out of six samples were significantly higher than the guidance level (21.5 ng WHO-TEQ/kg dw) suggested by Canadian Sediment Quality Guideline. A predominance of octachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (OCDD) was observed with an average contribution of 90.8% to the total PCDD/F concentrations, while 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-heptachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (HpCDD) was the major contributor to the PCDD/F WHO-TEQ concentrations in most of the sites. Such high levels of OCDD and HpCDD may be attributed to the presence of PCP/PCP-Na pollution, although MB-WW, agricultural straw open burning, and boilers-hazardous wastes were also the potential sources of PCDD/Fs. This is the first report for the concentrations and congener profiles of PCDD/Fs in sediment samples from the Xiangtan, Zhuzhou, and Changsha sections of the Xiangjiang River, providing scientific evidence for establishing priorities to reduce ecological risks posed by PCDD/Fs in the rapidly developing areas of Hunan Province and elsewhere.

Concepts: People's Republic of China, Yangtze River, Mao Zedong, Hunan, Changsha, Hengyang, Xiang River, Zhuzhou


The present research study investigates bioremediation potential of biostimulated microbial culture isolated from heavy metals waste disposal contaminated site located at Bhayander (east), Mumbai, India. The physicochemical and microbial characterization including heavy metal contaminants have been studied at waste disposal site. The microorganisms adapted at heavy metal-contaminated environment were isolated, cultured, and biostimulated in minimal salt medium under aerobic conditions in a designed and developed laboratory bioreactor. Heavy metals such as Fe, Cu, and Cd at a selected concentration of 25, 50, and 100 μg/ml were taken in bioreactor wherein biostimulated microbial culture was added for bioremediation of heavy metals under aerobic conditions. The remediation of heavy metals was studied at an interval of 24 h for a period of 21 days. The biostimulated microbial consortium has been found effective for remediation of Cd, Cu, and Fe at higher concentration, i.e., 100 mg/l up to 98.5%, 99.6%, and 100%, respectively. Fe being a micronutrient was remediated completely compared to Cu and Cd. During the bioaccumulation of heavy metals by microorganisms, environmental parameters such as pH, total alkalinity, electronic conductivity, biological oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand, etc. were monitored and assessed. The pilot scale study would be applicable to remediate heavy metals from waste disposal contaminated site to clean up the environment.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Microbiology, Biotechnology, Metal, Environmental remediation, Heavy metal music, Soil contamination, Tungsten


This study was carried out to measure and compare the concentration of bacterial endotoxin in a variety of samples from drinking tap and bottled water available in Kuwait by using the Limulus Amoebocyte lysate test. A total of 29 samples were tested. Samples were collected from a variety of locations throughout the six governorates of Kuwait and 23 brands of local and imported bottled water samples were collected from the local market. The concentration of bacterial endotoxin was measured by using the standard Limulus Amoebocyte lysate test, gel clot method. This study showed that measured endotoxin concentrations in tap drinking water varied from 2.4 to 33.8 EU/ml with the average endotoxin concentration of 14.2 EU/ml. While the results of endotoxin concentrations in the bottled water were <0.03 to 20.1 EU/ml with an average of 1.96 EU/ml. The average concentration of endotoxin in bottled water is 13.5 % of the average concentration of endotoxin in tap drinking water. This experimental investigation has proved that drinking bottled water has less endotoxin as compared to tap water in Kuwait. It is also demonstrated that the endotoxin concentration did not exceed the acceptable level in drinking tap water.

Concepts: Measurement, Concentration, Water pollution, Test method, Bottled water, Drinking water, Tap water


The public health consequences of extreme heat events are felt most intensely in metropolitan areas where population density is high and the presence of the urban heat island phenomenon exacerbates the potential for prolonged exposure. This research develops an approach to map potential heat stress on humans by combining temperature and relative humidity into an index of apparent temperature. We use ordinary kriging to generate hourly prediction maps describing apparent temperature across the Greater Toronto Area, Canada. Meteorological data were obtained from 65 locations for 6 days in 2008 when extreme heat alerts were issued for the City of Toronto. Apparent temperature and exposure duration were integrated in a single metric, humidex degree hours (HDH), and mapped. The results show a significant difference in apparent temperature between built and natural locations from 3 PM to 7 AM; this discrepancy was greatest at 12 AM where built locations had a mean of 2.8 index values larger, t(71) = 5.379, p < 0.001. Spatial trends in exposure to heat stress (apparent temperature, ≥30°C) show the downtown core of the City of Toronto and much of Mississauga (west of Toronto) as likely to experience hazardous levels of prolonged heat and humidity (HDH ≥ 72) during a heat alert. We recommend that public health officials use apparent temperature and exposure duration to develop spatially explicit heat vulnerability assessment tools; HDH is one approach that unites these risk factors into a single metric.

Concepts: Precipitation, Humidity, Toronto, Urban heat island, Greater Toronto Area, Mississauga, Heat wave, Highway 401