Antibiotics are widely used in humans and animals, but there is a big concern about their negative impacts on ecosystem and human health after use. So far there is a lack of information on emission inventory and environmental fate of antibiotics in China. We studied national consumption, emissions, and multimedia fate of 36 frequently detected antibiotics in China by market survey, data analysis, and level III fugacity modeling tools. Based on our survey, the total usage for the 36 chemicals was 92700 tons in 2013, an estimated 54000 tons of the antibiotics was excreted by human and animals, and eventually 53800 tons of them entered into the receiving environment following various wastewater treatments. The fugacity model successfully predicted environmental concentrations (PECs) in all 58 river basins of China, which are comparable to the reported measured environmental concentrations (MECs) available in some basins. The bacterial resistance rates in the hospitals and aquatic environments were found to be related to the PECs and antibiotic usages, especially for those antibiotics used in the most recent period. This is the first comprehensive study which demonstrates an alarming usage and emission of various antibiotics in China.
The presence of heavy metals in the industrial effluents has recently been a challenging issue for human health. Efficient removal of heavy metal ions from environment is one of the most important issues from biological and environmental point of view, and many studies have been devoted to investigate the environmental behavior of nanoscale zerovalent iron (NZVI) for the removal of toxic heavy metal ions, present both in the surface and underground wastewater. The aim of this review is to show the excellent removal capacity and environmental remediation of NZVI-based materials for various heavy metal ions. A new look on NZVI-based materials (e.g., modified or matrix-supported NZVI materials) and possible interaction mechanism (e.g., adsorption, reduction and oxidation) and the latest environmental application. The effects of various environmental conditions (e.g., pH, temperature, coexisting oxy-anions and cations) and potential problems for the removal of heavy metal ions on NZVI-based materials with the DFT theoretical calculations and EXAFS technology are discussed. Research shows that NZVI-based materials have satisfactory removal capacities for heavy metal ions and play an important role in the environmental pollution cleanup. Possible improvement of NZVI-based materials and potential areas for future applications in environment remediation are also proposed.
The rapid rise of shale gas development through horizontal drilling and high volume hydraulic fracturing has expanded the extraction of hydrocarbon resources in the U.S. The rise of shale gas development has triggered an intense public debate regarding the potential environmental and human health effects from hydraulic fracturing. This paper provides a critical review of the potential risks that shale gas operations pose to water resources, with an emphasis on case studies mostly from the U.S. Four potential risks for water resources are identified: (1) the contamination of shallow aquifers with fugitive hydrocarbon gases (i.e., stray gas contamination), which can also potentially lead to the salinization of shallow groundwater through leaking natural gas wells and subsurface flow; (2) the contamination of surface water and shallow groundwater from spills, leaks, and/or the disposal of inadequately treated shale gas wastewater; (3) the accumulation of toxic and radioactive elements in soil or stream sediments near disposal or spill sites; and (4) the overextraction of water resources for high-volume hydraulic fracturing that could induce water shortages or conflicts with other water users, particularly in water-scarce areas. Analysis of published data (through January 2014) reveals evidence for stray gas contamination, surface water impacts in areas of intensive shale gas development, and the accumulation of radium isotopes in some disposal and spill sites. The direct contamination of shallow groundwater from hydraulic fracturing fluids and deep formation waters by hydraulic fracturing itself, however, remains controversial.
Exposure to ambient air pollution is a major risk factor for global disease. Assessment of the impacts of air pollution on population health and evaluation of trends relative to other major risk factors requires regularly updated, accurate, spatially resolved exposure estimates. We combined satellite-based estimates, chemical transport model simulations, and ground measurements from 79 different countries to produce global estimates of annual average fine particle (PM2.5) and ozone concentrations at 0.1° × 0.1° spatial resolution for five-year intervals from 1990 to 2010 and the year 2013. These estimates were applied to assess population-weighted mean concentrations for 1990–2013 for each of 188 countries. In 2013, 87% of the world’s population lived in areas exceeding the World Health Organization Air Quality Guideline of 10 μg/m3 PM2.5 (annual average). Between 1990 and 2013, global population-weighted PM2.5 increased by 20.4% driven by trends in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and China. Decreases in population-weighted mean concentrations of PM2.5 were evident in most high income countries. Population-weighted mean concentrations of ozone increased globally by 8.9% from 1990–2013 with increases in most countriesexcept for modest decreases in North America, parts of Europe, and several countries in Southeast Asia.
This research was designed for the first time to investigate the activities of photocatalytic composite, Ag3PO4/g-C3N4, in converting CO2 to fuels under simulated sunlight irradiation. The composite was synthesized using a simple in situ deposition method and characterized by various techniques including Brunauer–Emmett–Teller method (BET), X-ray diffraction (XRD), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), UV–vis diffuse reflectance spectroscopy (DRS), photoluminescence spectroscopy (PL), and an electrochemical method. Thorough investigation indicated that the composite consisted of Ag3PO4, Ag, and g-C3N4. The introduction of Ag3PO4 on g-C3N4 promoted its light absorption performance. However, more significant was the formation of heterojunction structure between Ag3PO4 and g-C3N4, which efficiently promoted the separation of electron–hole pairs by a Z-scheme mechanism and ultimately enhanced the photocatalytic CO2 reduction performance of the Ag3PO4/g-C3N4. The optimal Ag3PO4/g-C3N4 photocatalyst showed a CO2 conversion rate of 57.5 μmol·h–1 ·gcat –1, which was 6.1 and 10.4 times higher than those of g-C3N4 and P25, respectively, under simulated sunlight irradiation. The work found a new application of the photocatalyst, Ag3PO4/g-C3N4, in simultaneous environmental protection and energy production.
China faces great challenges in protecting its soil from contamination caused by rapid industrialization and urbanization over the last three decades. Recent nationwide surveys show that 16% of the soil samples, 19% for the agricultural soils, are contaminated based on China’s soil environmental quality limits, mainly with heavy metals and metalloids. Comparisons with other regions of the world show that the current status of soil contamination, based on the total contaminant concentrations, is not worse in China. However, the concentrations of some heavy metals in Chinese soils appear to be increasing at much greater rates. Exceedance of the contaminant limits in food crops is widespread in some areas, especially southern China, due to elevated inputs of contaminants, acidic nature of the soil and crop species or cultivars prone to heavy metal accumulation. Minimizing the transfer of contaminants from soil to the food chain is a top priority. A number of options are proposed, including identification of the sources of contaminants to agricultural systems, minimization of contaminant inputs, reduction of heavy metal phytoavailability in soil with liming or other immobilizing materials, selection and breeding of low accumulating crop cultivars, adoption of appropriate water and fertilizer management, bioremediation, and change of land use to grow nonfood crops. Implementation of these strategies requires not only technological advances, but also social-economic evaluation and effective enforcement of environmental protection law.
Mercury (Hg) is a global pollutant that affects human and ecosystem health. We synthesize understanding of sources, atmosphere-land-ocean Hg dynamics and health effects, and consider the implications of Hg-control policies. Primary anthropogenic Hg emissions greatly exceed natural geogenic sources, resulting in increases in Hg reservoirs and subsequent secondary Hg emissions that facilitate its global distribution. The ultimate fate of emitted Hg is primarily recalcitrant soil pools and deep ocean waters and sediments. Transfers of Hg emissions to largely unavailable reservoirs occur over the time scale of centuries, and are primarily mediated through atmospheric exchanges of wet/dry deposition and evasion from vegetation, soil organic matter and ocean surfaces. A key link between inorganic Hg inputs and exposure of humans and wildlife is the net production of methylmercury, which occurs mainly in reducing zones in freshwater, terrestrial, and coastal environments, and the subsurface ocean. Elevated human exposure to methylmercury primarily results from consumption of estuarine and marine fish. Developing fetuses are most at risk from this neurotoxin but health effects of highly exposed populations and wildlife are also a concern. Integration of Hg science with national and international policy efforts is needed to target efforts and evaluate efficacy.
The adsorption and desorption of U(VI) on graphene oxides (GOs), carboxylated GOs (HOOC-GOs), and reduced GOs (rGOs) were investigated by batch experiments, EXAFS technique, and computational theoretical calculations. Isothermal adsorptions showed that the adsorption capacities of U(VI) were GOs > HOOC-GOs > rGOs, whereas the desorbed amounts of U(VI) were rGOs > GOs > HOOC-GOs by desorption kinetics. According to EXAFS analysis, inner-sphere surface complexation dominated the adsorption of U(VI) on GOs and HOOC-GOs at pH 4.0, whereas outer-sphere surface complexation of U(VI) on rGO was observed at pH 4.0, which was consistent with surface complexation modeling. Based on the theoretical (10.2 kcal/mol)calculations, the binding energy of (8.1 was significantly lower than those of [HOOC-GOs(center dot center dot center dot)UO(2)](2+) (12.1 kcal/mol) and [GOs-(OUO2)-U-center dot center dot center dot](2+) (10.2 kcal/mol), suggesting the physisorption of UO22+ on rGOs. Such high binding energy of [GOs-(COOUO2)-U-center dot center dot center dot](+) (50.5 kcal/mol) revealed that the desorption of U(VI) from the -COOH groups was much more difficult. This paper highlights the effect of the hydroxyl, epoxy, and carboxyl groups on the adsorption and desorption of U(VI), which plays an important role in designing GOs for the preconcentration and removal of radionuclides in environmental pollution cleanup applications.
The adsorption mechanism of U(VI) and Eu(III) on carbonaceous nanofibers (CNFs) was investigated using batch, IR, XPS, XANES, and EXAFS techniques. The pH-dependent adsorption indicated that the adsorption of U(VI) on the CNFs was significantly higher than the adsorption of Eu(III) at pH < 7.0. The maximum adsorption capacity of the CNFs calculated from the Langmuir model at pH 4.5 and 298 K for U(VI) and Eu(III) were 125 and 91 mg/g, respectively. The CNFs displayed good recyclability and recoverability by regeneration experiments. Based on XPS and XANES analyses, the enrichment of U(VI) and Eu(III) was attributed to the abundant adsorption sites (e.g., −OH and −COOH groups) of the CNFs. IR analysis further demonstrated that −COOH groups were more responsible for U(VI) adsorption. In addition, the remarkable reducing agents of the R-CH2OH groups were responsible for the highly efficient adsorption of U(VI) on the CNFs. The adsorption mechanism of U(VI) on the CNFs at pH 4.5 was shifted from inner- to outer-sphere surface complexation with increasing initial concentration, whereas the surface (co)precipitate (i.e., schoepite) was observed at pH 7.0 by EXAFS spectra. The findings presented herein play an important role in the removal of radionuclides on inexpensive and available carbon-based nanoparticles in environmental cleanup applications.
We report a novel procedure to synthesize a new type of water separation membrane using graphene oxide (GO) nanosheets such that water can flow through the nanochannels between GO layers while unwanted solutes are rejected by size exclusion and charge effects. The GO membrane was made via layer-by-layer deposition of GO nanosheets, which were cross-linked by 1,3,5-benzenetricarbonyl trichloride, on a polydopamine-coated polysulfone support. The cross-linking not only provided the stacked GO nanosheets with the necessary stability to overcome their inherent dispensability in water environment but also fine-tuned the charges, functionality, and spacing of the GO nanosheets. We then tested the membranes synthesized with different numbers of GO layers to demonstrate their interesting water separation performance. It was found that the GO membrane flux ranged between 80 and 276 LMH/MPa, roughly 4–10 times higher than that of most commercial nanofiltration membranes. Although the GO membrane in the present development stage had a relatively low rejection (6–46%) of monovalent and divalent salts, it exhibited a moderate rejection (46–66%) of Methylene blue and a high rejection (93–95%) of Rhodamine-WT. We conclude the paper by emphasizing that the facile synthesis of a GO membrane exploiting the ideal properties of inexpensive GO materials offers a myriad of opportunities to modify its physicochemical properties, potentially making the GO membrane a next-generation, cost-effective, and sustainable alternative to the long-existing thin-film composite polyamide membranes for water separation applications.
Small plastic detritus, termed “microplastics”, are a widespread and ubiquitous contaminant of marine ecosystems across the globe. Ingestion of microplastics by marine biota, including mussels, worms, fish, and seabirds, has been widely reported, but despite their vital ecological role in marine food-webs, the impact of microplastics on zooplankton remains under-researched. Here, we show that microplastics are ingested by, and may impact upon, zooplankton. We used bioimaging techniques to document ingestion, egestion, and adherence of microplastics in a range of zooplankton common to the northeast Atlantic, and employed feeding rate studies to determine the impact of plastic detritus on algal ingestion rates in copepods. Using fluorescence and coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS) microscopy we identified that thirteen zooplankton taxa had the capacity to ingest 1.7–30.6 μm polystyrene beads, with uptake varying by taxa, life-stage and bead-size. Post-ingestion, copepods egested faecal pellets laden with microplastics. We further observed microplastics adhered to the external carapace and appendages of exposed zooplankton. Exposure of the copepod Centropages typicus to natural assemblages of algae with and without microplastics showed that 7.3 μm microplastics (>4000 mL–1) significantly decreased algal feeding. Our findings imply that marine microplastic debris can negatively impact upon zooplankton function and health.
Ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) has a large and well-documented global burden of disease. Our analysis uses high-resolution (10 km, global-coverage) concentration data and cause-specific integrated exposure-response (IER) functions developed for the Global Burden of Disease 2010 to assess how regional and global improvements in ambient air quality could reduce attributable mortality from PM2.5. Overall, an aggressive global program of PM2.5 mitigation in line with WHO interim guidelines could avoid 750 000 (23%) of the 3.2 million deaths per year currently (ca. 2010) attributable to ambient PM2.5. Modest improvements in PM2.5 in relatively clean regions (North America, Europe) would result in surprisingly large avoided mortality, owing to demographic factors and the nonlinear concentration-response relationship that describes the risk of particulate matter in relation to several important causes of death. In contrast, major improvements in air quality would be required to substantially reduce mortality from PM2.5 in more polluted regions, such as China and India. Moreover, forecasted demographic and epidemiological transitions in India and China imply that to keep PM2.5-attributable mortality rates (deaths per 100 000 people per year) constant, average PM2.5 levels would need to decline by ∼20–30% over the next 15 years merely to offset increases in PM2.5-attributable mortality from aging populations. An effective program to deliver clean air to the world’s most polluted regions could avoid several hundred thousand premature deaths each year.
Adsorption of 4-n-nonylphenol (4-n-NP) and bisphenol A (BPA) on magnetic reduced graphene oxides (rGOs) as a function of contact time, pH, ionic strength and humic acid were investigated by batch techniques. Adsorption of 4-n-NP and BPA were independent of pH at 3.0- 8.0, whereas the slightly decreased adsorption was observed at pH 8.0-11.0. Adsorption kinetics and isotherms of 4-n-NP and BPA on magnetic rGOs can be satisfactorily fitted by pseudosecond-order kinetic and Freundlich model, respectively. The maximum adsorption capacities of magnetic rGOs at pH 6.5 and 293 K were 63.96 and 48.74 mg/g for 4-n-NP and BPA, respectively, which were significantly higher than that of activated carbon. Based on theoretical calculations, the higher adsorption energy of rGOs + 4-n-NP was mainly due to pi-pi stacking and flexible long alkyl chain of 4-n-NP, whereas adsorption of EPA on rGOs was energetically favored by a lying-down configuration due to pi-pi stacking and dispersion forces, which was further demonstrated by FTIR analysis. These findings indicate that magnetic rGOs is a promising adsorbent for the efficient elimination of 4-n-NP/BPA from aqueous solutions due to its excellent adsorption performance and simple magnetic separation, which are of great significance for the remediation of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in environmental cleanup.
The hypothesis that ‘microplastic will transfer hazardous hydrophobic organic chemicals (HOC) to marine animals’ has been central to the perceived hazard and risk of plastic in the marine environment. The hypothesis is often cited and has gained momentum, turning it into paradigm status. We provide a critical evaluation of the scientific literature regarding this hypothesis. Using new calculations based on published studies, we explain the sometimes contrasting views and unify them in one interpretive framework. One explanation for the contrasting views among studies is that they test different hypotheses. When reframed in the context of the above hypothesis, the available data become consistent. We show that HOC microplastic-water partitioning can be assumed to be at equilibrium for most microplastic residing in the oceans. We calculate the fraction of total HOC sorbed by plastics to be small compared to that sorbed by other media in the ocean. We further demonstrate consistency among (a) measured HOC transfer from microplastic to organisms in the laboratory, (b) measured HOC desorption rates for polymers in artificial gut fluids (c) simulations by plastic-inclusive bioaccumulation models and (d) HOC desorption rates for polymers inferred from first principles. We conclude that overall the flux of HOCs bioaccumulated from natural prey overwhelms the flux from ingested microplastic for most habitats, which implies that microplastic ingestion is not likely to increase the exposure to and thus risks of HOCs in the marine environment.
Silver nanoparticles (Ag-NPs) readily transform in the environment, which modifies their properties and alters their transport, fate, and toxicity. It is essential to consider such transformations when assessing the potential environmental impact of Ag-NPs. This review discusses the major transformation processes of Ag-NPs in various aqueous environments, particularly transformations of the metallic Ag cores caused by reactions with (in)organic ligands, and the effects of such transformations on physical and chemical stability and toxicity. Thermodynamic arguments are used to predict what forms of oxidized silver will predominate in various environmental scenarios. Silver binds strongly to sulfur (both organic and inorganic) in natural systems (fresh and sea waters) as well as in wastewater treatment plants, where most Ag-NPs are expected to be concentrated and then released. Sulfidation of Ag-NPs results in a significant decrease in their toxicity due to the lower solubility of silver sulfide, potentially limiting their short-term environmental impact. This review also discusses some of the major unanswered questions about Ag-NPs, which, when answered, will improve predictions about their potential environmental impacts. Research needed to address these questions includes fundamental molecular-level studies of Ag-NPs and their transformation products, particularly Ag2S-NPs, in simplified model systems containing common (in)organic ligands, as well as under more realistic environmental conditions using microcosm/mesocosm-type experiments. Toxicology studies of Ag-NP transformation products, including different states of aggregation and sulfidation, are also required. In addition, there is the need to characterize the surface structures, compositions, and morphologies of Ag-NPs and Ag2S-NPs to the extent possible because they control properties such as solubility and reactivity.
Titanium dioxide is a common additive in many food, personal care, and other consumer products used by people, which after use can enter the sewage system and, subsequently, enter the environment as treated effluent discharged to surface waters or biosolids applied to agricultural land, incinerated wastes, or landfill solids. This study quantifies the amount of titanium in common food products, derives estimates of human exposure to dietary (nano-) TiO2, and discusses the impact of the nanoscale fraction of TiO2 entering the environment. The foods with the highest content of TiO2 included candies, sweets, and chewing gums. Among personal care products, toothpastes and select sunscreens contained 1% to >10% titanium by weight. While some other crèmes contained titanium, despite being colored white, most shampoos, deodorants, and shaving creams contained the lowest levels of titanium (<0.01 μg/mg). For several high-consumption pharmaceuticals, the titanium content ranged from below the instrument detection limit (0.0001 μg Ti/mg) to a high of 0.014 μg Ti/mg. Electron microscopy and stability testing of food-grade TiO2 (E171) suggests that approximately 36% of the particles are less than 100 nm in at least one dimension and that it readily disperses in water as fairly stable colloids. However, filtration of water solubilized consumer products and personal care products indicated that less than 5% of the titanium was able to pass through 0.45 or 0.7 μm pores. Two white paints contained 110 μg Ti/mg while three sealants (i.e., prime coat paint) contained less titanium (25 to 40 μg Ti/mg). This research showed that, while many white-colored products contained titanium, it was not a prerequisite. Although several of these product classes contained low amounts of titanium, their widespread use and disposal down the drain and eventually to wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) deserves attention. A Monte Carlo human exposure analysis to TiO2 through foods identified children as having the highest exposures because TiO2 content of sweets is higher than other food products and that a typical exposure for a US adult may be on the order of 1 mg Ti per kilogram body weight per day. Thus, because of the millions of tons of titanium-based white pigment used annually, testing should focus on food-grade TiO2 (E171) rather than that adopted in many environmental health and safety tests (i.e., P25), which is used in much lower amounts in products less likely to enter the environment (e.g., catalyst supports, photocatalytic coatings).
Numerous studies have investigated the environmental occurrence, human exposure, and toxicity of bisphenol A (BPA). Following stringent regulations on the production and usage of BPA, several bisphenol analogues have been produced as a replacement for BPA in various applications. The present review outlines the current state of knowledge on the occurrence of bisphenol analogues (other than BPA) in the environment, consumer products and foodstuffs, human exposure and biomonitoring, and toxicity. Whereas BPA was still the major bisphenol analogue found in most environmental monitoring studies, BPF and BPS were also frequently detected. Elevated concentrations of BPAF, BPF, and BPS (i.e., similar to or greater than that of BPA) have been reported in the abiotic environment and human urine from some regions. Many analogues exhibit endocrine disrupting effects, cytotoxicity, genotoxicity, reproductive toxicity, dioxin-like effects, and neurotoxicity in laboratory studies. BPAF, BPB, BPF, and BPS have been shown to exhibit estrogenic and/or antiandrogenic activities similar to or even greater than that of BPA. Knowledge gaps and research needs have been identified, which include the elucidation of environmental occurrences, persistence, and fate of bisphenol analogues (other than BPA), sources and pathways for human exposure, effects on reproductive systems and the mammary gland, mechanisms of toxicity from coexposure to multiple analogues, metabolic pathways and products, and the impact of metabolic modification on toxicity.
Municipal effluent discharged from wastewater treatment works (WwTW) is suspected to be a significant contributor of microplastics (MP) to the environment as many personal care products contain plastic microbeads. A secondary WwTW (population equivalent 650 000) was sampled for microplastics at different stages of the treatment process to ascertain at what stage in the treatment process the MP are being removed. The influent contained on average 15.70 (±5.23) MP·L–1. This was reduced to 0.25 (±0.04) MP·L–1 in the final effluent, a decrease of 98.41%. Despite this large reduction we calculate that this WwTW is releasing 65 million microplastics into the receiving water every day. A significant proportion of the microplastic accumulated in and was removed during the grease removal stage (19.67 (±4.51) MP/2.5 g), it was only in the grease that the much publicised microbeads were found. This study shows that despite the efficient removal rates of MP achieved by this modern treatment plant when dealing with such a large volume of effluent even a modest amount of microplastics being released per liter of effluent could result in significant amounts of microplastics entering the environment. This is the first study to describe in detail the fate of microplastics during the wastewater treatment process.