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Spatial distribution of Dechlorane Plus and dechlorane related compounds in European background air
The highly chlorinated chemical Dechlorane Plus (DP) was introduced as a replacement flame retardant for Mirex, which is banned through the Stockholm Convention (SC) for its toxicity (T), environmental persistence (P), potential for bioaccumulation (B) and long-range environmental transport potential (LRETP). Currently, Dechlorane Plus is under consideration for listing under the Stockholm Convention and by the European Chemical Agency as it is suspected to also have potential for P, B, T and LRET. Knowledge of atmospheric concentrations of chemicals in background regions is vital to understand their persistence and long-range atmospheric transport but such knowledge is still limited for Dechlorane Plus. Also, knowledge on environmental occurrence of the less described Dechlorane Related Compounds (DRCs), with similar properties and uses as Dechlorane Plus, is limited. Hence, the main objective of this study was to carry out a spatial mapping of atmospheric concentrations of Dechlorane Plus and Dechlorane Related Compounds at background sites in Europe. Polyurethane foam passive air samplers were deployed at 99 sites across 33 European countries for 3 months in summer 2016 and analyzed for dechloranes. The study showed that syn- and anti-DP are present across the European continent...
Frontiers Media S.A.
Modelling the 2021 East Asia super dust storm using FLEXPART and FLEXDUST and its comparison with reanalyses and observations
The 2021 East Asia sandstorm began from the Eastern Gobi desert steppe in Mongolia on March 14, and later spread to northern China and the Korean Peninsula. It was the biggest sandstorm to hit China in a decade, causing severe air pollution and a significant threat to human health. Capturing and predicting such extreme events is critical for society. The Lagrangian particle dispersion model FLEXPART and the associated dust emission model FLEXDUST have been recently developed and applied to simulate global dust cycles. However, how well the model captures Asian dust storm events remains to be explored. In this study, we applied FLEXPART to simulate the recent 2021 East Asia sandstorm, and evaluated its performance comparing with observation and observation-constrained reanalysis datasets, such as the Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications, Version 2 (MERRA-2) and CAMS global atmospheric composition forecasts (CAMS-F). We found that the default setting of FLEXDUST substantially underestimates the strength of dust emission and FLEXPART modelled dust concentration in this storm compared to that in MERRA-2 and CAMS-F. An improvement of the parametrization of bare soil fraction, topographical scaling, threshold friction velocity and vertical dust flux scheme based on Kok et al. (Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 2014, 14, 13023–13041) in FLEXDUST can reproduce the strength and spatio-temporal pattern of the dust storm comparable to MERRA-2 and CAMS-F. However, it still underestimates the observed spike of dust concentration during the dust storm event over northern China, and requires further improvement in the future. The improved FLEXDUST and FLEXPART perform better than MERRA-2 and CAMS-F in capturing the observed particle size distribution of dust aerosols, highlighting the importance of using more dust size bins and size-dependent parameterization for dust emission, and dry and wet deposition schemes for modelling the Asian dust cycle and its climatic feedbacks.
Frontiers Media S.A.
Genotoxic effects of occupational exposure to glass fibres - A human biomonitoring study
As part of a large human biomonitoring study, we conducted occupational monitoring in a glass fibre factory in Slovakia. Shopfloor workers (n = 80), with a matched group of administrators in the same factory (n = 36), were monitored for exposure to glass fibres and to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The impact of occupational exposure on chromosomal aberrations, DNA damage and DNA repair, immunomodulatory markers, and the role of nutritional and lifestyle factors, as well as the effect of polymorphisms in metabolic and DNA repair genes on genetic stability, were investigated.
The (enzyme-modified) comet assay was employed to measure DNA strand breaks (SBs) and apurinic sites, oxidised and alkylated bases. Antioxidant status was estimated by resistance to H2O2-induced DNA damage. Base excision repair capacity was measured with an in vitro assay (based on the comet assay).
Exposure of workers to fibres was low, but still was associated with higher levels of SBs, and SBs plus oxidised bases, and higher sensitivity to H2O2. Multivariate analysis showed that exposure increased the risk of high levels of SBs by 20%. DNA damage was influenced by antioxidant enzymes catalase and glutathione S-transferase (measured in blood). DNA repair capacity was inversely correlated with DNA damage and positively with antioxidant status. An inverse correlation was found between DNA base oxidation and the percentage of eosinophils (involved in the inflammatory response) in peripheral blood of both exposed and reference groups. Genotypes of XRCC1 variants rs3213245 and rs25487 significantly decreased the risk of high levels of base oxidation, to 0.50 (p = 0.001) and 0.59 (p = 0.001), respectively.
Increases in DNA damage owing to glass fibre exposure were significant but modest, and no increases were seen in chromosome aberrations or micronuclei. However, it is of concern that even low levels of exposure to these fibres can cause significant genetic damage.
Plastics as a carrier of chemical additives to the Arctic: possibilities for strategic monitoring across the circumpolar North
Plastic pollution (including microplastics) has been reported in a variety of biotic and abiotic compartments across the circumpolar Arctic. Due to their environmental ubiquity, there is a need to understand not only the fate and transport of physical plastic particles, but also the fate and transport of additive chemicals associated with plastic pollution. Further, there is a fundamental research gap in understanding long-range transport of chemical additives to the Arctic via plastics as well as their behavior under environmentally relevant Arctic conditions. Here, we comment on the state of the science of plastic as carriers of chemical additives to the Arctic, and highlight research priorities going forward. We suggest further research on the transport pathways of chemical additives via plastics from both distant and local sources and laboratory experiments to investigate chemical behavior of plastic additives under Arctic conditions, including leaching, uptake, and bioaccumulation. Ultimately, chemical additives need to be included in strategic monitoring efforts to fully understand the contaminant burden of plastic pollution in Arctic ecosystems.
State of the Climate in 2021: The Arctic
American Meteorological Society
Development of a Novel Framework for the Assessment and Improvement of Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Actions in Europe
Frontiers Media S.A.
What do we know about the production and release of persistent organic pollutants in the global environment?
Information on the global production and environmental releases of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is of critical importance for regulating and eliminating these chemical substances of worldwide environmental and health concerns. Here, we conduct an extensive literature review to collect and curate quantitative information on the historical global production and multimedia environmental releases of 25 intentionally produced POPs. Our assembled data indicate that as of 2020, a cumulative total of 31 306 kilotonnes (kt) of the 25 POPs had been synthesized and commercialized worldwide, resulting in cumulative releases of 20 348 kt into the global environment. As of 2020, short-chain chlorinated paraffins were the most produced POP, with a historical global cumulative tonnage amounting to 8795 kt, whereas α-hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) had the largest historical global cumulative environmental releases of 6567 kt among these 25 POPs. The 1970s witnessed the peak in the annual global production of the 25 investigated POPs. The United States and Europe used to be the hotspots of environmental releases of the 25 investigated POPs, notably in the 1960s and 1970s. By contrast, global environmental releases occurred primarily in China in the 2000s–2010s. Preliminary efforts are also made to integrate the production volume information with “hazard” attributes (persistence, bioaccumulation, toxicity, and long-range transport potential) in the evaluation of potential environmental impacts of the 25 POPs. The results show that dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are potentially associated with higher environmental impacts than other POPs because they are among the top rankings in both the global cumulative production and hazard indicators. This work for the first time reveals the astonishing magnitudes of POP production and environmental releases in contemporary human history. It also underscores the importance of tonnage information in assessments of POPs, POP candidates, and other chemicals of emerging concern.
Economic Feasibility of Power/Heat Cogeneration by Biogas–Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) Integrated Systems
Based upon the thermodynamic simulation of a biogas-SOFC integrated process and the costing of its elements, the present work examines the economic feasibility of biogas-SOFCs for combined heat and power (CHP) generation, by the comparison of their economic performance against the conventional biogas-CHP with internal combustion engines (ICEs), under the same assumptions. As well as the issues of process scale and an SOFC’s cost, examined in the literature, the study brings up the determinative effects of: (i) the employed SOFC size, with respect to its operational point, as well as (ii) the feasibility criterion, on the feasibility assessment. Two plant capacities were examined (250 m3·h−1 and 750 m3·h−1 biogas production), and their feasibilities were assessed by the Internal Rate of Return (IRR), the Net Present Value (NPV) and the Pay Back Time (PBT) criteria. For SOFC costs at 1100 and 2000 EUR·kWel−1, foreseen in 2035 and 2030, respectively, SOFCs were found to increase investment (by 2.5–4.5 times, depending upon a plant’s capacity and the SOFC’s size) and power generation (by 13–57%, depending upon the SOFC’s size), the latter increasing revenues. SOFC-CHP exhibits considerably lower IRRs (5.3–13.4% for the small and 16.8–25.3% for the larger plant), compared to ICE-CHP (34.4%). Nonetheless, according to NPV that does not evaluate profitability as a return on investment, small scale biogas-SOFCs (NPVmax: EUR 3.07 M) can compete with biogas-ICE (NPV: EUR 3.42 M), for SOFCs sized to operate at 70% of the maximum power density (MPD) and with a SOFC cost of 1100 EUR·kWel−1, whereas for larger plants, SOFC-CHP can lead to considerably higher NPVs (EUR 12.5–21.0 M) compared to biogas-ICE (EUR 9.3 M). Nonetheless, PBTs are higher for SOFC-CHP (7.7–11.1 yr and 4.2–5.7 yr for the small and the large plant, respectively, compared to 2.3 yr and 3.1 yr for biogas-ICE) because the criterion suppresses the effect of SOFC-CHP-increased revenues to a time period shorter than the plant’s lifetime. Finally, the economics of SOFC-CHP are optimized for SOFCs sized to operate at 70–82.5% of their MPD, depending upon the SOFC cost and the feasibility criterion. Overall, the choice of the feasibility criterion and the size of the employed SOFC can drastically affect the economic evaluation of SOFC-CHP, whereas the feasibility criterion also determines the economically optimum size of the employed SOFC.
Climate Performance, Environmental Toxins and Nutrient Density of the Underutilized Norwegian Orange-Footed Sea Cucumber (Cucumaria frondosa)
Low trophic species are often mentioned as additional food sources to achieve broader and more sustainable utilisation of the ocean. The aim of this study was to map the food potential of Norwegian orange-footed sea cucumber (Cucumaria frondosa). C. frondosa contained 7% protein, 1% lipids with a high proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and a variety of micronutrients. The nutrient density scores (NDS) of C. frondosa were above average compared towards daily recommended intakes (DRI) for men and women (age 31–60) but below when capped at 100% of DRI. The concentrations of persistent organic pollutants and trace elements were in general low, except for inorganic arsenic (iAs) (0.73 mg per kg) which exceeded the limits deemed safe by food authorities. However, the small number of samples analysed for iAs lowers the ability to draw a firm conclusion. The carbon footprint from a value chain with a dredge fishery, processing in Norway and retail in Asia was assessed to 8 kg carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq.) per kg C. frondosa, the fishery causing 90%. Although, C. frondosa has some nutritional benefits, the carbon footprint or possible content of iAs may restrict the consumption.
Inferring surface energy fluxes using drone data assimilation in large eddy simulations
Spatially representative estimates of surface energy exchange from field measurements are required for improving and validating Earth system models and satellite remote sensing algorithms. The scarcity of flux measurements can limit understanding of ecohydrological responses to climate warming, especially in remote regions with limited infrastructure. Direct field measurements often apply the eddy covariance method on stationary towers, but recently, drone-based measurements of temperature, humidity, and wind speed have been suggested as a viable alternative to quantify the turbulent fluxes of sensible (H) and latent heat (LE). A data assimilation framework to infer uncertainty-aware surface flux estimates from sparse and noisy drone-based observations is developed and tested using a turbulence-resolving large eddy simulation (LES) as a forward model to connect surface fluxes to drone observations. The proposed framework explicitly represents the sequential collection of drone data, accounts for sensor noise, includes uncertainty in boundary and initial conditions, and jointly estimates the posterior distribution of a multivariate parameter space. Assuming typical flight times and observational errors of light-weight, multi-rotor drone systems, we first evaluate the information gain and performance of different ensemble-based data assimilation schemes in experiments with synthetically generated observations. It is shown that an iterative ensemble smoother outperforms both the non-iterative ensemble smoother and the particle batch smoother in the given problem, yielding well-calibrated posterior uncertainty with continuous ranked probability scores of 12 W m−2 for both H and LE, with standard deviations of 37 W m−2 (H) and 46 W m−2 (LE) for a 12 min vertical step profile by a single drone. Increasing flight times, using observations from multiple drones, and further narrowing the prior distributions of the initial conditions are viable for reducing the posterior spread. Sampling strategies prioritizing space–time exploration without temporal averaging, instead of hovering at fixed locations while averaging, enhance the non-linearities in the forward model and can lead to biased flux results with ensemble-based assimilation schemes. In a set of 18 real-world field experiments at two wetland sites in Norway, drone data assimilation estimates agree with independent eddy covariance estimates, with root mean square error values of 37 W m−2 (H), 52 W m−2 (LE), and 58 W m−2 (H+LE) and correlation coefficients of 0.90 (H), 0.40 (LE), and 0.83 (H+LE). While this comparison uses the simplifying assumptions of flux homogeneity, stationarity, and flat terrain, it is emphasized that the drone data assimilation framework is not confined to these assumptions and can thus readily be extended to more complex cases and other scalar fluxes, such as for trace gases in future studies.