Author Archive

Call for Input: Grand Challenges and Opportunities for Environmental Engineering and Science for the 21st Century

To help guide the next generation of environmental engineers and scientists, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has appointed a committee of experts to conduct a study on Grand Challenges and Opportunities in Environmental Engineering and Science for the 21st Century.

Environmental challenges continue to multiply as the global population expands and as demands for clean water, food, and energy rise, all in the context of global climate change.  With expertise in a wide range of fields and with input from the scientific community, the committee will identify the biggest environmental challenges to be solved over the next several decades and comment on how education and training might be better aligned to address those challenges.

The committee slate is provisional, pending a 20-day comment period ending on March 29, 2017 and final approval.

 

                                                    Call for Input: What are the biggest challenges?

The committee invites the scientific community and the public to submit ideas about ambitious but achievable goals that harness science, technology, and innovation from environmental engineering and science to solve important national or global problems.  Submit your ideas here.

 

                                      First Public Meeting on May 4: Register Today!

The first public meeting will be held in Washington, DC and also on the web on Thursday, May 4, 2017 (agenda TBA).  Attendees will hear from committee chair Domenico Grasso of the University of Delaware and from the National Science Foundation and other sponsors about the goals of this effort.  The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) will also share insights into its highly successful Grand Challenges for Engineering study and campaign, upon which this new study is modeled. Register to attend today!

If you are interested in following the activities of this study, sign up for email updates on the study website and discuss the study on Twitter using #GrandChallenges.

 

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Unexpected levels of monoterpenes found in UK homes

Overusing household cleaners may reduce indoor air quality

Domestic indoor air

Source: (c) iStock

The air in some UK homes contains potentially harmful levels of volatile compounds due to residents overusing household chemicals without proper ventilation, new research shows.

Air quality research tends to focus on the outdoors. However, with homes becoming more insulated and energy efficient, and with people spending more time indoors, it’s worthwhile studying this air too.

Alastair Lewis’ team at the University of York and colleagues at King’s College London have measured the concentration of gaseous organic compounds in 25 UK homes to see how occupants’ activity can affect indoor air quality.

 

Read the full article in Chemistry World.


Unexpectedly high concentrations of monoterpenes in a study of UK homes
Chunting Michelle Wang, Benjamin Barratt, Nicola Carslaw, Artemis Doutsi, Rachel E. Dunmore, Martyn W. Ward and Alastair C. Lewis
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2017
DOI: 10.1039/C6EM00569A
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Outstanding Reviewers for Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts in 2016

Following the success of Peer Review Week in September 2016 (dedicated to reviewer recognition) during which we published a list of our top reviewers, we are delighted to announce that we will continue to recognise the contribution that our reviewers make to the journal by announcing our Outstanding Reviewers each year.

We would like to highlight the Outstanding Reviewers for Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts in 2016, as selected by the editorial team, for their significant contribution to the journal. The reviewers have been chosen based on the number, timeliness and quality of the reports completed over the last 12 months.

We would like to say a big thank you to those individuals listed here as well as to all of the reviewers that have supported the journal. Each Outstanding Reviewer will receive a certificate to give recognition for their significant contribution.

Dr Hans Peter Arp, Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Oslo
Professor Ning Dai, University at Buffalo
Professor Tom Harner, Environment and Climate Change Canada
Dr Douglas Latch, Seattle University
Dr Aijun Miao, Nanjing University
Dr Christina Remucal, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Dr Vanessa-Nina Roth, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
Dr Richard Spinney, Ohio State University
Dr Zhanyun Wang, ETH Zurich
Professor Frank Wania, University of Toronto

 

We would also like to thank the Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts board and the environmental science community for their continued support of the journal, as authors, reviewers and readers.

 

If you would like to become a reviewer for our journal, just email us with details of your research interests and an up-to-date CV or résumé.  You can find more details in our author and reviewer resource centre.

 

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What are your colleagues reading in Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts?

The articles below are some of the most read Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts articles in 2016. You can view the full collection of our top 10 downloaded articles here.

 

Assessment of the long-term impacts of PM10 and PM2.5 particles from construction works on surrounding areas
Farhad Azarmi, Prashant Kumar, Daniel Marsh and Gary Fuller

 

The dilemma in prioritizing chemicals for environmental analysis: known versus unknown hazards
Sobek Anna, Bejgarn Sofia, Rudén Christina and Breitholtz Magnus

 

Role of snow and cold environment in the fate and effects of nanoparticles and select organic pollutants from gasoline engine exhaust
Yevgen Nazarenko, Uday Kurien, Oleg Nepotchatykh, Rodrigo B. Rangel-Alvarado and Parisa A. Ariya

 

Environmental transmission of diarrheal pathogens in low and middle income countries
Timothy R. Julian

 

Immobilized materials for removal of toxic metal ions from surface/groundwaters and aqueous waste streams
Iwona Zawierucha, Cezary Kozlowski and Grzegorz Malina

 

Keep up-to-date with the latest issues of Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts by joining our e-alerts.

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Novel isolate of Sphingopyxis sp. and its cyanotoxin degradation activity

Cyanotoxins are often found in surface waters worldwide. If contaminated water is consumed, they can bioaccumulate in the liver and cause death in high doses. They can also poison other animals and plants, causing a real threat to life and increasing the potential of disruption in drinking water supply in affected areas.  Among all cyanotoxins, microcystin (MC) is the most studied. Herein, Maghsoudi and colleagues report a new bacterium isolate that degrade these toxins and present a study on some factors involved on its biodegradation activity.

MCs are small cyclic toxins composed of seven peptides and, as a result of structural variation, 89 analogues have been identified to date. Their hepatotoxicity is due to the presence of the unique amino acid, Adda, in their structure. They are resistant to enzymatic and physico-chemical breakdown owing to their small cyclic structure. However, they can be biodegraded by a few genus of bacteria.

The majority of studies that have focused on MC degradation have identified Sphingomonas sp as the most common degrades.  Among these, the gene mlrA encodes the enzyme responsible for cleaving the peptide bond between arginine and Adda and, therefore, causing the breaking down of the cyclic structure. However, different peptides that do not carry the arginine-Adda bond are also degraded by bacteria from the genus Sphingomonas. This indicates that different pathways may be involved in biodegradation. Using modern sequencing methods, Maghsoudi and colleagues also sought to identify and determine the role of theses genes in different MC variants.

The group collected samples of water from the Missisquoi Bay, Quebec, Canada, where several cyanobacterial blooms have been observed. A total of 22 strains were isolated with the ability to degrade cyanotoxins and, among these, four were able to degrade all MC variants (MCLR, YR, LY, LW and LF). Moreover, sequencing analysis showed that one of the isolates (MB-E) demonstrated 99% identity with the Sphingopyxis genus.

Following this finding, a next generation sequencing method was used for analysing the mlr gene cluster of the new strain. Results showed that organisation of mlr genes in this cluster is identical to those of several Sphingomonas strains that degrade MCs. Results also revealed that transcription of the mlrA gene is triggered by the presence of microcystin in the medium and that the same pathway is used in the biodegradation of all MC variants. This was the first time that this new sequencing method was used to characterise the genome of MC degraders.

Moreover, pH-dependent biodegradation is thought to be the determinant factor in the fate and disappearance of these toxins. However, limited information is known about the correlation of dynamic changes in pH and cyanotoxin degradation. Using MB-E, biodegradation was observed at pH values between 6.10 and 8.05. The highest biodegradation rate was observed at pH 7.22 and data showed that MB-E was not able to grow under basic conditions. Considering that cyanobacterial blooms are often associated with a high pH (between 8.5 and 11), MB-E may have had limited biodegradation activity in the bay. However, MB-E was still able to degrade toxins at pH 9.12, that is closer to the pH of drinking water during cyanobacterial blooms.

In summary, using new sequencing methods, Maghsoudi and colleagues proved that gene expression profile of a new isolate that exhibit microcystin biodegradation is identical to Sphingopyxis sp, a novel result. Moreover, further studies on dynamic pH changes during cyanobacterial blooms might be useful in providing insight into the persistence and biodegradation activity of MB-E in drinking waters.

To read the full article for free* click the link below:
Cyanotoxin degradation activity and mlr gene expression profiles of a Sphingopyxis sp. isolated from Lake Champlain, Canada
Ehsan Maghsoudi, Nathalie Fortin, Charles Greer, Christine Maynard, Antoine Pagé, Sung Vo Duy, Sébastien Sauvé, Michèle Prévost and Sarah Dorner
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2016, 18, 1417-1426
DOI: 10.1039/C6EM00001K

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About the webwriter

Luiza Cruz is a PhD student in the Barrett Group at Imperial College London. Her work is towards the development of new medicines, using medicinal and natural products chemistry.

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*Access is free until 08/02/2017 through a registered publishing personal account.

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Quantifying UK carbon reduction potential

With 2016 set to become the warmest year on record, global warming has never been more prominent in the news. Researchers have found that scientifically viable carbon capture and reduction technologies could reduce the UK’s carbon footprint by 8–32%.

This year the UK signed up to the Paris climate agreement, which aims to limit global temperature increases to below 2°C compared with pre-industrial temperatures. One way to start meeting this agreement is for the UK to aim for net zero CO2 emissions through the use of negative emissions technologies (NETs) – these include methods to capture CO2 either directly from the air of before it is released from fossil fuel emissions, planting trees and creating forests, accelerating natural geological weathering to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, changing agricultural practices and land use, and binding CO2 in the form of biochar.

Negative emission technologies

Carbon dioxide flows among atmospheric, land, ocean and geological reservoirs for different negative emission technologies. Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry

Pete Smith, from the University of Aberdeen, UK, and colleagues have assessed the impact that UK-based NETs could have on reducing the country’s CO2emission levels. Smith’s team discovered that if the UK implemented all possible NETs, regardless of their technical viability, it would reduce current emissions by 8–32%. However, the actual proportion of this potential that can be realised might be smaller than this; factors such as cost, energy requirements, environmental impact and public acceptance will all affect these technologies’ viability.

Read the full article in Chemistry World.


Pete Smith, R. Stuart Haszeldine and Stephen M. Smith
DOI: 10.1039/C6EM00386A
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Introducing our new Editorial Board Member – Marianne Glasius

We are delighted to introduce Marianne Glasius as a new Editorial Board Member for Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts. Marianne joins the team as an Editorial Board Member, and will start her role as Associate Editor from January 2017.


Marianne will be joining Liang-Hong Guo, Helen Hsu-Kim, Edward Kolodziej, Matthew MacLeod and Paul Tratnyek as Associate Editors handling submissions to the journal.

Marianne Glasius is Associate Professor at the Department of Chemistry at Aarhus University, Denmark (since 2006), where she is also affiliated with the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center and the Arctic Research Centre. She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from University of Southern Denmark in 2000. During her studies she stayed at the European Commissions Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy for a year. Dr. Glasius was a scientist and senior scientist at the National Environmental Research Institute, Denmark for six years. Recently, she visited University of California, Berkeley for one year, working with Prof. A.H. Goldstein at the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management.

The research of Dr. Glasius focuses on development and application of advanced chemical analyses for identification and characterization of organic compounds in complex matrices. The aim is to obtain understanding of processes whether these involve atmospheric aerosols affecting air pollution and climate, or development of bio-fuels of the future.



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Please join us in welcoming Marianne to Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts.

Interested in the latest news, research and events of the Environmental Science journals? Find us on Twitter:@EnvSciRSC

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Major society chemistry publishers jointly commit to integration with ORCID

ORCID provides an identifier for individuals to use with their name as they engage in research, scholarship and innovation activities, ensuring authors gain full credit for their work.

Today, we signed their open letter, along with ACS Publications, committing to unambiguous identification of all authors that publish in our journals.

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The Royal Society of Chemistry and the Publications Division of the American Chemical Society (ACS) today each became signatories to the ORCID Open Letter, reasserting the commitment of both organizations to enhancing the scholarly publishing experience for researchers worldwide who are involved in chemistry and allied fields.

The commitment by these two global chemistry publishers to undertake new workflow integration with technology infrastructure provided by ORCID, a not-for-profit organization that provides unique identifiers for researchers and scholars, will enable both societies to provide unambiguous designation of author names within chemistry and across the broader sciences. This partnership with ORCID will resolve ambiguity in researcher identification caused by name changes, cultural differences in name presentation, and the inconsistent use of name abbreviations that is too often a source of confusion for those who must rely on the published scientific record.

By becoming signatories to the ORCID Open Letter, these two major chemical societies are voicing their intent to collect ORCID iDs for all submitting authors through use of the ORCID API, and to display such identifiers in the articles published in their respective society journals. The integration of such activities within the publishers’ workflows means authors will benefit from automated linkages between their ORCID record and unique identifiers embedded within their published research articles, ensuring their contributions are appropriately recognized and credited.

During the publishing process, ACS and the Royal Society of Chemistry will automatically deposit publications to Crossref, which in turn will coordinate with ORCID to link and update the publishing activity populated to authors’ respective ORCID profiles, thus attributing each published work to the correct researcher. Existing holders of an ORCID iD will encounter a one-time prompt to grant permission for the linkage. If authors do not have an ORCID iD, they can easily enroll without navigating away from the publishers’ manuscript submission site. If users wish to revoke integrated ORCID profile access at any time, they can elect to do so through their ACS, Royal Society of Chemistry or ORCID accounts.

Both ACS Publications and the Royal Society of Chemistry understand the importance of attributing accurately the scholarly contributions of research scientists in the context of their other professional activities. “ACS has supported ORCID since the outset of the initiative,” says Sarah Tegen, Ph.D., Vice President of Global Editorial & Author Services at ACS Publications. “We are pleased now to align with the Royal Society of Chemistry in this endeavor, as both societies underscore our willingness not only to encourage and assist our respective authors in establishing their unique ORCID profiles, but also to help tackle the broader challenge of researcher name disambiguation in the scholarly literature. With the integration of author ORCID iDs in our publishing workflows, we will ensure that researchers receive proper credit for their accomplishments.”

Emma Wilson, Ph.D., Director of Publishing at the Royal Society of Chemistry adds, “We have been a supporter of ORCID since 2013, recognizing the benefits it brings to researchers; ORCID can and will make a huge difference to our authors’ ability to gain full credit for their work. ORCID will also help researchers meet the requirements of their research funders — for example, a number of funders have already announced that all grant applicants must now include a researcher’s ORCID iD. A unified system that integrates and links research-related information with accurate and timely linkage to the publishing output of authors has the potential to simplify and speed up their grant applications — something we know is important to researchers.”

“The ACS and the Royal Society of Chemistry have been long-standing supporters of ORCID,” says Laurel Haak, Ph.D., Executive Director, ORCID. “We are pleased to see ORCID integration into ACS and Royal Society of Chemistry Publications systems. This will be a substantial benefit to researchers in the chemistry community, both in improving search and discovery of research articles, and for attribution and recognition of researchers’ contributions to the discipline.”

About the American Chemical Society and ACS Publications

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With nearly 157,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

ACS Publications, a division of the American Chemical Society, is a nonprofit scholarly publisher of 50 peer-reviewed journals and a range of eBooks at the interface of chemistry and allied sciences, including physics and biology. ACS Publications journals are among the most-cited, most-trusted and most-read within the scientific literature. Respected for their editorial rigor, ACS journals offer high-quality service to authors and readers, including rapid time to publication, a range of channels for researchers to access ACS Publications’ award-winning web and mobile delivery platforms, and a comprehensive program of open access publishing options for authors and their funders. ACS Publications also publishes Chemical & Engineering News — the Society’s newsmagazine covering science and technology, business and industry, government and policy, education and employment aspects of the chemistry field.

About the Royal Society of Chemistry

The Royal Society of Chemistry is the world’s leading chemistry community, advancing excellence in the chemical sciences. With over 50,000 members and a knowledge business that spans the globe, we are the U.K.’s professional body for chemical scientists; a not-for-profit organisation with 175 years of history and an international vision for the future. We promote, support and celebrate chemistry. We work to shape the future of the chemical sciences — for the benefit of science and humanity.

About ORCID

ORCID’s vision is a world where all who participate in research, scholarship and innovation are uniquely identified and connected to their contributions across disciplines, borders and time. ORCID provides an identifier for individuals to use with their name as they engage in research, scholarship and innovation activities. It provides open tools that enable transparent and trustworthy connections between researchers, their contributions and affiliations. The organization provides this service to help people find information and to simplify reporting and analysis. ORCID is a not-for-profit organization, sustained by fees from member organizations. Its work is open, transparent and non-proprietary. The organization strives to be a trusted component of research infrastructure with the goal of providing clarity in the breadth of research contributions and the people who make them.

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What to expect from Negative Emission Technologies (NETs) in the UK

As the Paris climate deal takes legal effect, it is necessary to assess the technical aspects and challenges to limit the global temperature increase. Given the problems in completely eliminating greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions from human activities, one of the possible solutions is using Negative Emission Technologies (NETs) as a way of compensating for those emissions. As the UK has recently stated a target of net zero emission, Smith and colleagues took on a preliminary assessment of land-based NETs in this country in order to estimate their potential and impact.

There are a number of ways negative emissions could compensate for CO2 emissions:

1) Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), using crops to extract CO2 and then burning them for energy and sequestering the result emissions, thought to hold the most potential to bring down CO2 levels

2) Direct Air Capture of CO2 (DAC) from ambient air and either burying it underground or using it in chemical processes

3) Enhanced Weathering of minerals (EW), by spreading pulverised rocks onto soils to increase the natural weathering process that takes up CO2

4) Afforestation and Reforestation (AR)

5) Soil Carbon Sequestration (SCS), which uses modern farming methods to reverse past losses of soil carbon and sequester CO2

6) Biochar, that converts biomass into biochar for use as soil amendment

Smith and colleagues considered the use of UK land specifically and only technical aspects of these technologies. Other factors, e.g. of a socio-political nature, were not considered and are thought to lower the potential of the NETs considerably.

Regarding land availability, BECCS and AR use land that can no longer be used for food production, assumed to be 1.5 Mha. The same value is assumed for biochar, since growing feedstock for it cannot be done in the same land used for food. SCS and EW can be practised on land without changing its use, here assumed to be 8.5 Mha. Finally, DAC has no land footprint so it is not constrained by land availability.

Negative emission potential for BECCS, AR and biochar are 4.5‒18, 5.1 and 1.73‒11.25 Mt C eq. per year, respectively. SCS would deliver 0.255‒8.5 Mt C eq. per year and the combined potential for EW would be 22.5 Mt C per year. DAC is compared at the same level of BECCS, i.e. 4.5‒18 Mt C eq. per year.

In the UK, total emissions of GHGs are equal to an average of 153 Mt C eq. per year. Considering that not all NETs can be applied at the same time and assuming no interaction between practices, the maximum aggregate potential of land-based NETs is estimated to be 12‒49 Mt C eq. per year (BECCS plus SCS plus EW). This represents only 8‒32% of current UK GHGs emissions.  DAC, however, could increase this number further.

This maximum aggregate potential is limited by a number of factors, including cost, energy, environmental and socio-political constraints. More studies are needed to fully understand and hopefully overcome the barriers to implementation and reach the target of net zero emission.

To read the full article for free* click the link below:

Pete Smith, R. Stuart Haszeldine and Stephen M. Smith
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2016, 18, 1400-1405
DOI: 10.1039/C6EM00386A

—————-

About the webwriter

Luiza Cruz is a PhD student in the Barrett Group at Imperial College London. Her work is towards the development of new medicines, using medicinal and natural products chemistry.

—————-

*Access is free until 23/12/2016 through a registered publishing personal account.

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Closing the window on air pollution

Graphical abstractSwitching off fans and closing car windows can minimise drivers’ exposure to harmful particles.

Sitting in traffic is bad for your lungs, but closing your car windows and switching off the fans can minimise the amount of micro-size pollution particles you breathe, scientists from the UK found.
Air pollution is a major health risk. The World Health Organization estimates that it caused 3.7 million premature deaths in 2012. Last year, a group led by Prashant Kumar from the University of Surrey, UK, showed that drivers stuck at traffic lights are exposed to 29 times more harmful pollution particles than those driving in free flowing traffic.

Switching off fans and closing car windows can minimise drivers’ exposure to harmful particles
Sitting in traffic is bad for your lungs, but closing your car windows and switching off the fans can minimise the amount of micro-size pollution particles you breathe, scientists from the UK found.
Air pollution is a major health risk. The World Health Organization estimates that it caused 3.7 million premature deaths in 2012. Last year, a group led by Prashant Kumar from the University of Surrey, UK, showed that drivers stuck at traffic lights are exposed to 29 times more harmful pollution particles than those driving in free flowing traffic.

Read the full article in Chemistry World.


Concentration dynamics of coarse and fine particulate matter at and around signalised traffic intersections
Prashant Kumar and Anju Goel
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2016, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C6EM00215C, Paper

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