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4.4.1: Types of Environmental Hazards - Biology

4.4.1: Types of Environmental Hazards - Biology


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Environmental health is a field that focuses on how the natural and human-built surroundings as well as behaviors affect human well-being. The field is concerned with preventing disease, death, and disability by reducing exposure to environmental hazards and promoting behavioral change. Environmental hazards are threats to human health and well-being (table (PageIndex{a})).

Table (PageIndex{a}): Typical Environmental Health Issues: Determinants and Health Consequences.
Underlying DeterminantsPossible Adverse Health and Safety Consequences
Inadequate water (quantity and quality), sanitation and solid waste disposal, improper hygein (handwashing)Diarrhea and vector-related diseases (for example, malaria, schistosomiasis, and dengue)
Improper water resource managment, uncluding poor drainageVector-related diseases
Crowded housing and poor ventialtion of smokeAcute and chronic respiratory disease, including lung cancer from coal and tobacco inhalation
Exposures to vehicular and industrial air pollutionRespiratory diseases, some cancers, and loss of IQ in children
Population movement and encroachment and construction, which affect feeding and breeding grounds of vectors, such as mosquitoes

Vector-related diseases

May also spread other infectious diseases (for example, HIV/AIDS, Ebola)

Exposure to naturally ocurring toxic substancesPoising from substances such as arsenic, manganese, and fluorides
Natural resources degradation (for example, landslides, poor drainage, erosion)Injury and death from landslides and flooding
Climate change, partly from combustion of fossil fuel and release of greenhouse gases in transportation, industry, and poor energy conservation in housing, fuel, commerce, and industry

Injury/death from extreeme heat/cold, sotres, floods, and fires

Indirect effects spread of vectorbrone diseases, aggravation of respriatory diseases, population dislocation, water pollution from sea level rise, etc.

Ozone depletion from industrial and commercial actvitiy

Skin cancer, cataracts

Indirect effect: compromised food production

Table based on Lvovsky/World Bank (CC-BY)

Traditional versus Modern Environmental Hazards

Environmental hazards can be classified as traditional or modern. Traditional hazards are related to poverty and mostly affect low-income people and those in developing countries. Modern hazards, caused by technological development, prevail in industrialized countries where exposure to traditional hazards is low.

The impact of traditional hazards exceeds that of modern hazards by 10 times in Africa, five times in Asian countries (except for China), and 2.5 times in Latin America and the Middle East (figure (PageIndex{a})). Water-related diseases caused by inadequate water supply and sanitation impose an especially large health burden in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific region. In India alone, 90,000 children under five died diarrhea in 2017. Globally, 409,000 people died of malaria in 2019 with 94% of these deaths occurring in African countries. In 2016, approximately one third of the world’s households used unprocessed solid fuels, particularly biomass (crop residues, wood, and dung) for cooking and heating in inefficient stoves without proper ventilation. This exposes people—mainly low-income women and children—to high levels of indoor air pollution, the cause of about 1.6 million deaths in each year (figure (PageIndex{b})).

Figure (PageIndex{a}): The percent of total health risks due to traditional versus modern health risks and the disability-adjusted life years (DALY) per million people in eight regions. Disability-adjusted life years measures the burden of disability associated with a disease or disorder and represent represent the total number of years lost to illness, disability, or premature death within a given population. Traditional environmental health hazards prevail in developing countries, but modern risks are also significant. Traditional hazards are greatest in Sub-Saharan Africa (25%), and modern hazards are greatest in China (5%), Latin America (4%), and Central and Eastern Europe (4%). For most regions, traditional hazards were a greater threat than modern hazards with the exceptions of Central and Eastern Europe and industrialized countries. Image from World Bank (CC-BY).

Figure (PageIndex{b}): Death rates from indoor air pollution in each country in 2017. Guinea, Sierra Leone, Chad, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia, Madagascar, Afghanistan, and Papua New Guinea had the highest death rates (more than 120 deaths per 100,000 individuals). Moderately high death rates (90-120 deaths per 100,000 individuals) were mostly in African and Southeast Asian countries. Moderate death rates (30-90 deaths per 100,00 individuals) were mostly in African and Asian countries. The lowest death rates were (0-10 deaths per 100,000 individuals) were in mostly in North American, South American, European, and North African countries and Austrialia. Image by Hannah Ritchie (2013). Indoor Air Pollution. Published online at OurWorldInData.org. (CC-BY).

The contribution of modern environmental risks to the disease burden in most developing countries is similar to – and in quite a few countries, greater than – that in rich countries (figure (PageIndex{a})). Urban air pollution, for example, is highest in parts of China, India, and some cities in Asia and Latin America. Low-income people increasingly experience a “double burden” of traditional and modern environmental health risks. In rich countries, they experience twice the burden of illness and death from all causes and 10 times greater disease burden from environmental risks.

Biological, Chemical, and Physical Environmental Hazards

Environmental hazards can also be classified into three interrelated categories (biological, chemical, and physical) based on the properties of their causes. These categories are not mutually exclusive with traditional versus modern hazards. For example, indoor air pollution is both a traditional and chemical hazard. Different hazards can interact and exacerbate one another. For example, a flood is primarily a physical hazard, but it can lead to the spread of waterborne disease (a biological hazard). Similarly, air pollution (a chemical hazard) can damage respiratory tissue, making the body more vulnerable to a respiratory infection (a biological hazard). Infectious diseases (biological hazards) can also weaken the immune system, making an individual more vulnerable to chemical hazards.

Biological Hazards

For most of human history, biological hazards were the most significant factor in health. Biological hazards are infectious (communicable) diseases caused by pathogens (disease-causing organisms or infectious particles) such as bacteria, fungi, parasitic worms, protozoa, viruses, and prions. Bacteria are single-celled organisms with small, simple cells. Examples of bacterial diseases include tuberculosis, cholera, bacterial pneumonia, and dysentery. Fungi may have one or multiple cells and have a more complex cell type than bacteria. Fungal diseases include minor infections like candidiasis (yeast infection) or athlete's foot, but they can also causes severe respiratory infections (histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis, etc.) particularly in individuals with compromised immune systems. Parasitic worms are animals from several phyla (groups) that siphon nutrients from their hosts. Examples include tapeworms, commonly acquired through consuming undercooked meat, and blood flukes (Schistosoma). Like fungi, protozoa have larger, more complex cells than bacteria, but they are single celled and lack the rigid cell wall that surrounds fungal cells. Malaria (figure (PageIndex{c})), African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), and giardiasis are caused by protozoa. Viruses are infectious particles with genetic information surrounded by a protein coat, but they are not technically considered organisms in part because they do not consist fo cells. COVID-19, influenza, measles, the common cold, ebola viral disease (Ebola hemorrhagic fever), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) are all caused by viruses. Prions (proteinaceous infectious particles) are even simpler than viruses because they lack genetic material and only contain protein.

Figure (PageIndex{c}): Red blood cells infected with the protozoan Plasmodium, which causes malaria, under the microscope. Image by Kim-Sung Lee, Janet Cox-Singh, Balbir Singh (CC-BY).

While the proportion of deaths caused by in infectious diseases has overall decreased (with a higher proportion of deaths caused by noncommunicable diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease), infectious diseases still caused about one in five deaths in 2017. These deaths occurred at the highest rates in developing countries and many were in children. Malnutrition, unclean water, poor sanitary conditions and lack of proper medical care all play roles in transmission and high death rates from infectious diseases Compounding the problems of infectious diseases are factors such as antibiotic-resistant pathogens, pesticide-resistant disease vectors, and overpopulation.

Chemical Hazards

Chemical hazards are toxic substances, which cause damage to living organisms. Air pollutants (such as secondhand smoke or carbon monoxide), heavy metals, and pesticides are a few examples. We can be exposed to these contaminants from a variety of residential, commercial, and industrial sources. Sometimes harmful environmental contaminants occur biologically, such as those from mold or a toxic algae bloom. Toxins can be classified based on their origin, purpose, chemical structure and properties, or effects. Table (PageIndex{b}) describes a few categories of toxins based on their effects and provides examples. A few of these examples are discussed more specifically below.

Table (PageIndex{b}): Classification of Environmental Contaminants
ContaminantDefinition
CarcinogenAn agent which may produce cancer (uncontrolled cell growth), either by itself or in conjunction with another substance. Examples include formaldehyde, asbestos, radon, vinyl chloride, and tobacco.
Teratogen

A substance which can cause physical defects in a developing embryo. Examples include alcohol and cigarette smoke.

MutagenA material that induces genetic changes (mutations) in the DNA. Examples include radioactive substances (such as radon and nuclear fuel and waste) and nitrous acid. Some forms of radiation (see Physical Hazards) are also mutagens.
Neurotoxin

A substance that can cause an adverse effect on the chemistry, structure or function of the nervous system. Examples include lead and mercury.

Endocrine disruptor

A chemical that may interfere with the body’s endocrine (hormonal) system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. A wide range of substances, both natural and man-made, are thought to cause endocrine disruption, including pharmaceuticals, dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, arsenic, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), DDT and other pesticides, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), pthalates, and plasticizers such as bisphenol A (BPA).

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable gas or liquid that has a pungent, suffocating odor. It is a volatile organic compound, which is a compound containing carbon and hydrogen that easily becomes a vapor or gas. It is also naturally produced in small, harmless amounts in the human body. The primary way we can be exposed to formaldehyde is by breathing air containing it. Formaldehyde is released into the air by industries using or manufacturing formaldehyde, wood products (such as particle-board, plywood, and furniture), automobile exhaust, cigarette smoke, paints and varnishes, and carpets and permanent press fabrics. Nail polish and commercially applied floor finish emit formaldehyde (figure (PageIndex{d})).

Figure (PageIndex{d}): Nail products are known to contain toxic chemicals, such as dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, and formaldehyde.

In general, indoor environments consistently have higher concentrations than outdoor environments because many building materials, consumer products, and fabrics emit formaldehyde. Levels of formaldehyde measured in indoor air range from 0.02–4 parts per million (ppm). Formaldehyde levels in outdoor air range from 0.001 to 0.02 ppm in urban areas.

Heavy Metals

Heavy metals are chemical elements of high density that form a special type of bond (called metallic bonds, in which electrons are shared but in a less constricted way than in covalent bonds). Arsenic, mercury, lead, and cadmium are examples of heavy metals.

Arsenic (As) is a naturally occurring element that is normally present throughout our environment in water, soil, dust, air, and food. Levels of arsenic can regionally vary due to farming and industrial activity as well as natural geological processes. The arsenic from farming and smelting tends to bind strongly to soil and is expected to remain near the surface of the land for hundreds of years as a long-term source of exposure. Wood that has been treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) is commonly found in decks and railings in existing homes and outdoor structures such as playground equipment. Some underground aquifers are located in rock or soil that has naturally high arsenic content.

Most arsenic gets into the body through ingestion of food or water. Arsenic in drinking water is a problem in many countries around the world, including Bangladesh, Chile, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, India, and the United States. Arsenic may also be found in foods, including rice and some fish, where it is present due to uptake from soil and water. It can also enter the body by breathing dust containing arsenic.

Arsenic poisoning causes a variety of symptoms and serious health conditions (figure (PageIndex{e})). Researchers are finding that arsenic, even at low levels, can interfere with the body’s endocrine system. Arsenic is also a known human carcinogen associated with skin, lung, bladder, kidney, and liver cancer.

Figure (PageIndex{e}): Patchy areas of dark skin pigmentation (arsenical hyperkaratosis) on the palms of the hands is a symptom of arsenic poisoning. Image and caption (modified) from Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry/CDC (public domain).

Mercury (Hg) is a naturally occurring metal, a useful chemical in some products, and a potential health risk. Mercury exists in several forms; the types people are usually exposed to are methylmercury and elemental mercury. Elemental mercury at room temperature is a shiny, silver-white liquid which can produce a harmful odorless vapor. Methylmercury, an organic compound, can build up in the bodies of long-living, predatory fish (Biomagnification). Although fish and shellfish have many nutritional benefits, consuming large quantities of fish increases a person’s exposure to mercury. Pregnant women who eat fish high in mercury on a regular basis run the risk of permanently damaging their developing fetuses. Children born to these mothers may exhibit motor difficulties, sensory problems and cognitive deficits. The United States Environmental Protection Agency thus recommends that pregnant women and young children should not consume any swordfish, shark, king mackerel, or tilefish because of their high mercury content. These individuals are advised to eat fish low in mercury such as salmon, shrimp, pollock, and catfish (figure (PageIndex{f})). To keep mercury out of the fish we eat and the air we breathe, it’s important to take mercury-containing products to a hazardous waste facility for disposal. Common products sold today that contain small amounts of mercury include fluorescent lights and button-cell batteries (figure (PageIndex{g})).

Figure (PageIndex{f}): Fish classified based on mercury levels. The best choices (black sea bass, catfish, herring, trout, and many others) have the lowest mercury levels, and two or three servings of these choices can be safely consumed each week. The good choices (carp, halibut, yellowfin tuna, etc.) have moderate levels, and it is safe to eat one serving per week. The choices to avoid, such as shark and swordfish, have the highest mercury levels and should be avoided. Image by EPA and FDA (public domain)

Figure (PageIndex{g}): Button-cell batteries found in small devices like watches and hearing aids contain mercury and must be discarded at the proper hazardous waste facility. Image by Lead holder (CC-BY-SA).

Lead (Pb) is a metal that occurs naturally in the rocks and soil of the Earth’s crust. It is also released from mining, manufacturing, and the combustion (burning) fossil fuels such as coal, oil, gasoline, and natural gas. Lead has no distinctive taste or smell. Lead is used to produce batteries, pipes, roofing, scientific electronic equipment, military tracking systems, medical devices, and products to shield X-rays and nuclear radiation. It is used in ceramic glazes and crystal glassware. Because of health concerns, lead and lead compounds were banned from house paint in 1978; from solder used on water pipes in 1986; from gasoline in 1995; from solder used on food cans in 1996; and from tin-coated foil on wine bottles in 1996. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has set a limit on the amount of lead that can be used in ceramics.

Lead and lead compounds are listed as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”. It can affect almost every organ and system in your body. It can be equally harmful if breathed or swallowed. The part of the body most sensitive to lead exposure is the central nervous system, especially in children, who are more vulnerable to lead poisoning than adults. A child who swallows large amounts of lead can develop brain damage that can cause convulsions and death; the child can also develop blood anemia, kidney damage, colic, and muscle weakness. Repeated low levels of exposure to lead can alter a child’s normal mental and physical growth and result in learning or behavioral problems. Exposure to high levels of lead for pregnant women can cause miscarriage, premature births, and smaller babies. Repeated or chronic exposure can cause lead to accumulate in your body, leading to lead poisoning.

The video below explains how Flint, Michigan's water supply was polluted with lead in 2014.

Asbestos

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs in rock and soil. Because of its fiber strength and heat resistance asbestos has been used in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire retardant. Asbestos has also been used in a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in building materials (roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products, and asbestos cement products), friction products (automobile clutch, brake, and transmission parts), heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets, and coatings. Exposure to asbestos is associated with cancers (lung cancer and mesothelioma) and another lung disease called asbestosis. In the United States, certain uses of asbestos, including in corrugated paper, flooring, and building insulation, are banned under the Toxic Substances Control Act and Clean Air Act (figure (PageIndex{h})). In contrast, asbestos is fully banned in 67 countries as of 2019.

Figure (PageIndex{h}): An asbestos pipe wrap. While this use of asbestos is banned in the United States, other uses are still permitted. Image by EPA (public domain).

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of manufactured organic chemicals used in a variety of industries (figure (PageIndex{i})). They can be found in food packaging, stain- and water-repellent fabrics, nonstick products (such as Teflon), polishes, waxes, paints, cleaning products, and fire-fighting foams.

Figure (PageIndex{i}): The chemical structure of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a PFAS. This molecule has eight carbon atoms (black) connected in a chain. Most of them are bound to fluorine atoms (green). The carbon at the end of the chain forms two covalent bonds with an oxygen and is single bounded to another oxygen atom, which is also attached to a hydrogen. Image by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (public domain).

Studies indicate that some PFAS can cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals. More limited findings associate some PFAS with low infant birth weights, effects on the immune system, cancer, and thyroid hormone disruption in humans.

Eight major chemical manufacturers in the U.S. phased out the use certain PFAS (called perfluorooctanoic acid, PFOA, and perfluorooctane sulfonate, PFOS) and related chemicals in their products and as emissions from their facilities. However, these PFAS can still be imported and other PFAS are still manufactured in the U.S.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a group of manufactured organic chemicals. They belong to a broad family of chemicals known as chlorinated hydrocarbons, which consisting of carbon, hydrogen and chlorine atoms (figure (PageIndex{j})). The number of chlorine atoms and their location in a PCB molecule determine many of its physical and chemical properties. PCBs have no known taste or smell, and range in consistency from an oil to a waxy solid.

Figure (PageIndex{j}): A variety of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). They each have two rings of six carbon atoms each attached together. Additionally, each has multiple chlorine atoms attached to the rings, but the exact number and placement of chlorine atoms varies. Image by Leyo/M. Van den Berg et al. (public domain).

Polychlorinated biphenyls have been shown to cause cancer, cause birth defects, and affect the immune, reproductive, nervous, and endocrine systems in animals. Studies in humans support evidence for potential carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic effects of PCBs. The different health effects of PCBs may be interrelated. Alterations in one system may have significant implications for the other systems of the body.

The manufacture of PCBs in the U.S. began in 1929 until it was banned in 1979 under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Due to their non-flammability, chemical stability, high boiling point and electrical insulating properties, PCBs were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications including in electrical equipment, coolants paints, plastics, rubber products, pigments, and dyes.

Bisphenol A (BPA)

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical synthesized in large quantities for use primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics have many applications including use in some food and drink packaging such as water and infant bottles, impact-resistant safety equipment, and medical devices (figure (PageIndex{k})). Epoxy resins are used as lacquers to coat metal products such as food cans, bottle tops, and water supply pipes. Some dental sealants and composites may also contribute to BPA exposure. The primary source of exposure to BPA for most people is through the diet. Bisphenol A can leach into food from the protective internal epoxy resin coatings of canned foods and from consumer products such as polycarbonate tableware, food storage containers, water bottles, and baby bottles. The degree to which BPA leaches from polycarbonate bottles into liquid may depend more on the temperature of the liquid or bottle, than the age of the container. It has also be found in breast milk.

Figure (PageIndex{k}): A water bottle is labeled as BPA free. Image by Hteink.min (CC-BY-SA).

Some animal studies suggest that infants and children may be the most vulnerable to the effects of BPA. It disrupts signaling by estrogen, a naturally produced hormone, and the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) documented concerns about its effects on the behavior, brain, and prostate in young children and developing fetuses.

The following personal choices can reduce exposure to BPA:

  • Avoid microwaving polycarbonate plastic food containers. Polycarbonate is strong and durable, but over time it may break down from over use at high temperatures.
  • Note recycle codes on the bottom of plastic containers. Some, but not all, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
  • Reduce your use of canned foods.
  • When possible, opt for glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers, particularly for hot food or liquids.

While BPA is not banned in the U.S., the Food and Drug Adminsitration banned its use in baby bottles and sippy cups in 2012 and its use in the coating of infant formula containers in 2013. However, similar compounds such as bisphenol S (BPS) are now used as replacements.

Phthalates

Phthalates are a group of synthetic chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl. Polyvinyl chloride is made softer and more flexible by the addition of phthalates. Phthalates are used in hundreds of consumer products. Phthalates are used in cosmetics and personal care products, including perfume, hair spray, soap, shampoo, nail polish, and skin moisturizers (figure (PageIndex{l})). They are used in consumer products such as flexible plastic and vinyl toys, shower curtains, wallpaper, vinyl miniblinds, food packaging, and plastic wrap. Exposure to low levels of phthalates may come from eating food packaged in plastic that contains phthalates or breathing dust in rooms with vinyl miniblinds, wallpaper, or recently installed flooring that contain phthalates. We can be exposed to phthalates by drinking water that contains phthalates.

Figure (PageIndex{l}): Phthalates are often used in shampoos and other personal care products, but some brands produce phthalate-free products. Image by inf per Open Food Facts (CC-BY-SA).

Phthalates are suspected to be endocrine disruptors. Some types of phthalates have affected the reproductive system of laboratory animals. In 2017, The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has banned several pthalates from being used at concentrations greater than 0.1% in toys and products designed to be used by children three years old or younger.

Radon

Radon is a radioactive gas that is naturally-occurring, colorless, and odorless (figure (PageIndex{m})). It comes from the natural decay of uranium or thorium found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground and into the home through cracks in floors, walls and foundations. It can also be released from building materials or from well water. Radon breaks down quickly, giving off radioactive particles. Long-term exposure to these particles can lead to lung cancer. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the second leading cause behind smoking. To reduce the risk of radon exposure, the Department of Urban and Housing Development recommends testing your home for radon, avoiding smoking to reduce the risk of lung cancer, and ensuring proper ventilation in your home.

Figure (PageIndex{m}): This information graphic from the Centers for Disease Control explains how people can be exposed to radon from underground and its health risks. Image by CDC (public domain).

Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT)

Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) was the first of a long line of chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides (figure (PageIndex{n})). These compounds are chains of carbon and hydrogen with chlorine atoms replacing some of the hydrogen atoms. Introduced during World War II, DDT, along with penicillin and the sulfa drugs, was responsible for the fact that this was the first war in history where trauma killed more people - combatants and noncombatants alike - than infectious disease.

Figure (PageIndex{n}): DDT was a commonly-used pesticide. Left image by Leyo (public domain), and right image by Xanthis (public domain).

Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane is effective against many crop pests as well as vectors of human diseases such as the mosquitoes that spread malaria and yellow fever and fleas, which transmit the plague. Prior to the introduction of DDT, the number of cases of malaria in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) was more than a million a year. By 1963 the disease had been practically eliminated from the island. However, growing concern about the hazards of DDT led to its abandonment there in the mid-1960s, and soon thereafter malaria became common once again. Because it remains in the environment and is resistant to breakdown, DDT was especially effective against malarial mosquitoes. One or two sprays a year on the walls of homes kept them free of mosquitoes. It was also inexpensive, further adding to its appeal, but DDT has several serious drawbacks.

Because DDT builds up in fatty tissues (bioaccumulation) and becomes more concentrated at the highest levels of the food chain (biomagnification), it is especially harmful to apex predators, such as Bald Eagles (figure (PageIndex{o})). Classical studies documenting these effects were described in the 1960s bestseller Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. It was discovered that DDT caused the eggshells of birds to become fragile and break, making reproduction impossible. As a result, the Bald Eagle was listed as an endangered species under U.S. law. After DDT was banned in the United States in 1972, affected bird populations made noticeable recoveries, including the iconic Bald Eagle.

Figure (PageIndex{o}): DDT pesticide residue in fish and other prey poisoned Bald Eagles, causing egg shell thinning that resulted in widespread nesting failures. Image by Ron Holmes/USFWS (public domain).

Physical Hazards

Physical hazards are additional forces that can imperil humans. Physical hazards may arise naturally such as natural disasters (earthquakes, wildfires, landslides, etc.) or extreme weather (figure (PageIndex{p})). Others may arise from human structures or activities (traffic accident, building collapse, injury from mechanical equipment, strain on the body from repeated movements, etc.) Some physical hazards, such as explosions or radiation, can arise from natural or human sources.

Figure (PageIndex{p}): This section of E. Grace Street, Richmond, VA, collapsed during tropical storm Gaston. Gaston dropped twelve inches of rain in the area. Image by Liz Roll/FEMA Photo Library (public domain).

Radiation is energy given off by matter in the form of rays or high-speed particles, and some types of radiation present a physical hazard. Some familiar forms of radiation are infrared radiatian (heat), visible light, ultraviolet (UV) light, radio waves, and microwaves. We are exposed to radiation every day from natural sources. For example, the sun exposes us to UV radiation. We are also exposed to radiation from human-made sources like medical X-rays and smoke detectors. We’re even exposed to low levels of radiation on cross-country flights, from watching television, and even from some construction materials. Some types of radioactive materials are more dangerous than others. Specifically, ionizing radiation, like X rays and gamma rays (one of the forms of radiation emitted from nuclear fuel and waste), have enough energy to break molecular bonds and displace (or remove) electrons from atoms.


Working in light vehicles—A review and conceptual model for occupational health and safety ☆

Occupational light vehicle (OLV) use is the leading cause of work related traumatic deaths in Westernised countries. Previous research has focused primarily on narrow contexts of OLV-use such as corporate fleet vehicles. We have proposed a comprehensive systems model for OLV-use to provide a framework for identifying research needs and proposing policy and practice interventions. This model presents the worker as the locus of injury at the centre of work- and road-related determinants of injury. Using this model, we reviewed existing knowledge and found most studies focused only on company car drivers, neglecting OLV-users in non-traditional employment arrangements and those using other vehicle types. Environmental exposures, work design factors and risk and protective factors for the wider OLV-user population are inadequately researched. Neither road- nor work-related policy appropriately addresses OLV-use, and population surveillance relies largely on inadequate workers compensation insurance data.

This review demonstrates that there are significant gaps in understanding the problem of OLV-use and a need for further research integrating public health, insurance and road safety responses. The model provides a framework for understanding the theory of OLV-use OHS and guidance for urgently needed intervention research, policy and practice.


What are the 4 types of environmental hazards

Hazards are the processes which cause an accident or extreme event or danger where as disaster is a sudden adverse or unfortunate extreme event which causes great damage to human beings as well as plants and animals, i.e., disasters occur rapidly, instianeously and indiscriminately. - Laws, Regulations & Timeline Government should take immediate steps to provide relief and rehabilitation measures to the cyclone affected peoples.This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.© 2017 EnvironmentalPollution - All rights reserved should take emergency flood control measures with active participation of NGOs and local community.8. 6:47 The earthquake prediction should be made long before its occurrence in order to save life and properties.The overflowing of a river over its banks and submerging the surrounding areas is known as flood. There should be temporary evacuation of population from affected or to be affected areas to safer places.4. Your health describes how well your body is functioning and your quality of life. They Include Unsafe Conditions That Can Cause Injury, Illness, And Death. Efforts should be made to preserve, maintain and replace coastal sand dune.5. High School Biology: Help and Review imaginable degree, area of

Safety Hazards Include: Spills On Floors Or Tripping Hazards, Such …

Course Navigator There are five different types of environmental health hazards known to cause illness in humans.

We can also appreciate health in a broader sense. What Is Hazardous Waste?

Chronic Toxicity After watching this lesson, you should be able to: Did you know… We have over 200 college

An environmental hazard is a substance, a state or an event which has the potential to threaten the surrounding natural environment / or adversely affect people's health, including n]] and natural disasters such as storms and earthquakes. Different Types Of Hazards.

Fill There should be proper warning regarding the anticipated cyclone through different mass media.3. For example, workers in demolition sites could get exposed to dust or water contaminated by bird droppings. When water passes through lead pipes, it contaminates the water and causes lead poising. Synthetic Organic Chemicals: Definition & Examples Jobs that involve handling chemicals present health risks to the employees.

Here are five types of environmental hazards that employers need to inform workers about. The cumulative effects of high velocities of wind, torrential rainfall and transgression of sea water on coastal land create havoc in the affected areas, causing tremendous loss of lives and proper­ties.The cyclones are called differently in different parts world as Hurricanes in North Atlantic Ocean, Typhoons in the North Pacific Ocean and Willy in sea around. These injuries could be caused by unlabeled heavy loads, tools or objects stored in hard to reach places, and standing in awkward positions when completing tasks­—particularly those involving weighted loads.OSHA has observed that ergonomic hazards are the most common health risk among workers in this industry. AP Biology: Help and Review Hazards are the processes which cause an accident or extreme event or danger where as disaster is a sudden adverse or unfortunate extreme event which causes great damage to human beings as well as plants and animals, i.e., disasters occur rapidly, instianeously and indiscriminately. Anatomy & Physiology: Tutoring Solution
The second is compliance with the guidelines set by the OSHA describes a hazard as a risk or threat that is associated with a workplace environment or duty, which if neglected to be corrected may cause an injury or lead to illness for employees or customers.
Before we get into the main point of discussion, let us have a recap of what an hazard is.An hazard is any thing, situation, environment or behavior that has the potential to cause injury, ill health, or damage to person(s), property or the environment. Penetrating Trauma vs. Blunt Trauma

Anything can be an hazard depending on its current state.

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Courses:

Note: Occasionally GEOG 410 is also offered as a course that would count towards the Environmental Systems Concentration. Check the Course Offerings (the “pink sheet”) or email the Undergraduate Advisor at [email protected] to clarify.

GEOG 321. Climatology. 4 Credits.
Energy and moisture in the atmosphere, atmospheric circulation, controls of regional and microclimates, applied climatology, climatic variations, past and future climates.
Prereq: GEOG 141.

GEOG 322. Geomorphology. 4 Credits.
Landforming processes with emphasis on mass movements, rivers, eolian, glacial, and coastal processes. Special fee.
Prereq: GEOG 141 or GEOL 102 or 202.

GEOG 323. Biogeography. 4 Credits.
Relation of plants and animals to the environment, distribution of individual species, historical changes in plant distribution.
Prereq: one from GEOG 141, GEOL 103, 203, BI 370.

GEOG 360. Watershed Science and Policy. 4 Credits.
Physical and biological processes of watersheds problems of land use, water quality, riparian zones, aquatic ecology scientific basis of watershed management and policy. Special fee.
Prereq: GEOG 141, or GEOL 102 or 202, or BI 130 or 213.

GEOG 361. Global Environmental Change. 4 Credits.
Natural and human-induced environmental changes and their impact on different environmental systems. Not available to those who have taken GEOG 143.
Prereq: GEOG 141.

421/521 Advanced Climatology: [Topic] (4R) Topics in climatology, including physical climatology, dynamic and synoptic climatology, and paleoclimatology. Prereq: GEOG 321. R when topic changes. Bartlein.

423/523 Advanced Biogeography: [Topic] (4R) Selected topics in biogeography including relation of plants and animals to their environment, historical changes in plant distribution, and palynological analysis. Special fee. Prereq: GEOG 323. R when topic changes. Gavin.

425/525 Hydrology and Water Resources (4) Emphasis on surface water including precipitation, evapotranspiration, surface runoff, and stream flow. Understanding and analysis of processes. Management for water supply and quality. Special fee. Prereq: GEOG 321 or 322 and MATH 112. Fonstad.

427/527 Fluvial Geomorphology (4) Hydraulics and hydrology of stream channels channel morphology and processes drainage network development fluvial deposits and landforms field and analytical methods. Required field trips. Special fee. Prereq: MATH 112 one from GEOG 322, 425, GEOL 334. McDowell.

430/530 Long-Term Environmental Change (4) Evolution of the physical landscape during the Quaternary period. Elements of paleoclimatology, paleoecology, and geomorphology. Required field trips. Special fee. Prereq: GEOG 321 or 322 or 323. Bartlein, Gavin.

432/532 Climatological Aspects of Global Change (4) Role of the climate system in global change, the Earth’s climatic history, and potential future climatic changes. Prereq: GEOG 321 or 322 or 323. Bartlein.

433/533 Fire and Natural Disturbances (4) Wildfire and other landscape disturbance processes, historical and current patterns of fire, use and management of fire. Prereq: BI 307 or GEOG 323 or BI 370. Offered alternate years. Gavin.


Our Common Journey: A Transition Toward Sustainability (1999)

4 Environmental Threats and Opportunities

The goals for a transition toward sustainability, as we set them out in Chapter 1, are to meet human needs over the next two generations while reducing hunger and poverty and preserving our environmental life support systems. The activities to approach this goal can only move ahead within the constraints set by resources and the environment. Many people have argued that, unless we make dramatic changes in our human enterprises, the development needed to meet future human needs risks damaging the life-support capabilities of the earth—which in turn would of course prevent society from meeting its goals. In this chapter, we therefore ask two related questions:

&bull What are the greatest threats that humanity will encounter as it attempts to navigate the transition to sustainability?

&bull What are the most promising opportunities for avoiding or circumventing these threats on the path to sustainability?

Our object is not to predict what environmental damages might be caused by development at particular times and places—a largely futile activity for all but the most specific and immediate development plans. Rather, it is to highlight some of the most serious environmental obstacles that might be met in plausible efforts to reach the goals outlined in Chapter 1 and along development paths such as those explored in Chapters 2 and 3, to take timely steps to avoid or circumvent these obstacles. 1

This chapter begins with a brief discussion of the approaches and issues we considered in scouting the environmental hazards that societies may confront. We then turn to efforts to assess the relative severity of

these hazards for particular times and places. Following the lead of the Brundtland Commission, we next analyze how human activities in a number of crucial developmental sectors might pose important challenges and opportunities for navigating the transition toward sustainability. Finally, we turn to the question of interactions—how multiple developmental activities may interact with complex environmental systems to transform the very nature of the journey before us.

Throughout our discussion, we not only seek to identify potential obstacles to a successful transition, but also to highlight the skills, knowledge, and materials that might be most useful in detecting and understanding the hazards, and in devising solutions or mid-course corrections to address them. We conclude that in any given place there are significant if often place-specific opportunities for societies to pursue goals of meeting human needs while sustaining earth's life support systems. Some of these opportunities are likely to be realized by individual actors—firms, organizations, and states—in the normal course of their self-interested activities. Others, however, will require integrative planning and management approaches.

Conceptual Issues

One of the most difficult challenges of the Board's exercise—and one that has bedeviled other attempts to evaluate the pitfalls to sustainable development—has been to determine which of the many potential problems are truly those that cannot be ignored. Perhaps the easiest approach might be to list as potential concerns for sustainable development every resource limitation or environmental response that can be imagined. Equally clear, however, is that a canoe-steering society that tries to focus public resources on avoiding every possible danger in a river at once will likely be looking the wrong way as it collides with the biggest rock. How can we distinguish those threats that, while not insignificant, are likely to be avoided or adapted to from those with a real potential for sinking the vessel? And how can we devise a system that encourages society to update its priorities among all hazards in light of new information and expertise?

A further difficulty in the analysis arises because hazards have spatial and temporal dimensions and important interactions. However connected the world may be, and however global the transformations humans impose on it, the sustainability transition will be played out differently on a vast number of local stages. Neither population growth, nor climate change, nor water limitations will be the same in Japan as in the Sudan. The environmental hazards that nations and communities find most threatening and the response strategies they look to will continue to be

significantly different in different places in the world and at different times. Moreover, some components of the environmental system have impressive resiliency and ability to recover from human-caused or natural stress. Temporal dynamics and variations in the resiliency of systems confound clear illumination of critical hazards. Identification of hazards must also confront the difficulty of identifying, measuring, and predicting cumulative and interactive effects and discontinuous changes. Many of the activities that humans engage in occur at local scales, but as these activities are repeated around the world, their effects accumulate collectively, local changes can lead to regional and global changes. Many of the worst and of the best-known environmental problems (e.g., stratospheric ozone depletion, anoxia in the Gulf of Mexico) resulted from the slow, day-by-day accumulation of small changes and dispersed activities. Such cumulative effects are only noticed after they have intensified over time, or when nonlinearities in the response of global or regional systems lead to dramatic and unforeseen events. Interactions of multiple changes also lead to surprise. Consequences that are deemed unlikely are often overlooked, yet rare events with extreme or large-scale consequences may influence the sustainability of the global system even more than cumulative effects.

Clearly, uncertainty is rampant and surprise is inevitable. Recent environmental surprises have ranged from the emergence of "new" communicable diseases such as Legionnaires' disease, in a part of the developed world where such things were assumed to be hazards of the past through the devastation of the developing-world town of Bhopal, India, in a very modern industrial accident to the belated discovery that the nontoxic, noncorrosive CFCs that had displaced hazardous refrigerants and propellants turned out to have their own serious risks. 2 More such surprises are likely as the earth system comes under increasing pressure from human activities. One difficulty lies in achieving a balance between falsely declaring certainty to engender action and the fatalistic resignation that societies can never know enough to know when or how to act.

In dealing with these difficulties, the Board has attempted to develop a process for setting priorities and for identifying issues that require top concern. While our analysis builds on numerous national and international "stock-taking" efforts, we ultimately focus our attention on those issues that cut across sectors and that interact to simultaneously threaten human and ecosystem health, urban development, industrial advances, and sustained agricultural production. We conclude that integrative solutions-those aimed at interacting challenges across many sectors—will be key to successfully navigating the transition to sustainability.

Perceptions of risk change with circumstances, as pressures increase, information is collected, technology advances, and surprises occur. The

environmental challenges that local places face as they navigate the transition to sustainability will also differ, because of inherent variations in resource bases and biophysical, social, and political environments. These variations include differences in geochemical and ecological vulnerability to pollution, social capital formation, and countless other details. Together, they make unsatisfactory any global-scale exercise to rank potential hazards. How do we then focus on challenges and opportunities that are relevant at the global scale yet meaningful locally?

We conclude that the most serious threats are those that (1) affect the ability of multiple sectors of almost any society to move ahead toward our normative goals for sustainability (2) have cumulative or delayed consequences, with effects felt over a long time (3) are irreversible or difficult to change and/or (4) have a notable potential to interact with each other to damage earth's support systems. To identify the problems that fit these criteria, we draw on several approaches. First, we use an environment-oriented analysis, 3 in which hazards are ranked on the basis of the breadth of their consequences (e.g., having human health consequences, ecosystem consequences, and consequences for materials and productivity). Secondly, we use the framework of ''common challenges" to development in various sectors proposed by the 1987 Brundtland Commission as the basis for expert group analyses of threats and opportunities for the transition to sustainability. Finally, we identify the threats stemming from the interaction of sectoral activities.

Environmental Perspectives

Researchers 4 drew on the UN Environment Program's The World Environment: 1972&ndash1982, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Unfinished Business and a range of other national and international environmental assessments that had been carried out worldwide, to develop a list of 28 potential environmental hazards that included most issues judged important in one or more of these studies. The hazards fell into five broad categories: land and water pollution, air pollution, contaminants of the human environment (e.g., indoor air pollution), resource losses, and natural disasters. Environmental data and explicit value judgments about the relative importance of present versus future impacts and of human health versus ecological impacts were then combined to generate comparative national rankings of the overall hazards list. From their analysis, it is apparent that the availability of high-quality freshwater is a priority concern in the United States, whether the most weight is given to human health, ecosystem, or materials concerns. Also, the more regional to global problems of stratospheric ozone depletion, climate change, acidification, and tropospheric ozone production and air pollution are common

and highly ranked issues of concern across the three areas. Such an approach provides the basis for assigning priorities to environmental threats.

In support of this Board's activities, the list was modified 5 and compared with eight other major efforts to assess environmental hazards, scoring each hazard on the basis of how important the various efforts found them to be (Table 4.1). Looking at Table 4.1 as a whole, some problems such as groundwater contamination and forest degradation stand out as being of nearly universal concern. Others, such as indoor air pollution and contamination, show up less frequently. Over time, there has been a shift from a focus on the depletion of natural resources and contamination of the environment to the loss of particular ecosystems (e.g., forests). In the individual assessments, the environmental threats identified as the most serious are often those most salient to a particular population. For example, the report on India devoted considerable attention to the health hazards of chemicals, both in the workplace and in accidental leakages, largely because at the time of the report the Bhopal disaster was still a major environmental event.

Overall, these analyses suggest that, for most nations of the world, water and air pollution are the top priority issues for most of the more industrialized nations, ozone depletion and climate change are also ranked highly while for many of the less-industrialized countries, droughts or floods, disease epidemics, and the availability of local living resources are crucial. The scored hazards approach 6 shows that sufficient data exist to make some relative hazard identifications for both today and the future. It also makes clear that relative hazard rankings—even of global environmental problems— are strongly dependent on the circumstances of the region assessed.

One of the limitations of this approach is its failure to address interactions—for example, the fact that such issues as water quality, acidification, and climate change are intimately linked, and that change in one will have consequences for change in others. In addition, because the approach focuses on the problem rather than the cause, it is not a good pragmatic tool on its own. Solutions are difficult to develop without knowing causes.

Development Perspectives

For another type of perspective, we built on the work of the Brundtland Commission's report Our Common Future. 7 In the interests of policy relevance, this effort broke with the tradition of analysis focused on environmental issues. Instead, analysis is directed to the "common challenges" to the environment arising from development activities within particular sectors: population and human resource development, cities,

Table 4.1 Assessments of the Importance of Environmental Hazards

Sources: UNCED (1992) World Bank (1992) WRI (1996) UNEP (1982) Easterbrook (1995) Centre for Science and Environment (1995) Council on Environmental Quality and Department of State (1982) Brown (1956).

agricultural production, industry, energy, and living resources. Using the Brundtland "common challenges" concept, we evaluated potential sector-specific resource and environmental impediments to reaching sustainability goals, along with the opportunities each sector offers to reduce, prevent, or mitigate the most serious threats. In addition, we evaluated progress over the last decade in achieving the measures identified by the Brundtland "challenges."

Human Population and Well-Being

In 1987, the Brundtland Commission framed the issue of human population growth in terms of both the balance between population and resources and the need for increased health, well-being, and human rights to self-determination. Today, these issues are strongly linked, and we recognize that the reduction in poverty, poor health, mortality, and the increase in educational and employment opportunities for all are the keys to slowing population growth and to the wise and sustainable use of resources. Thus, one of the most critical challenges for efforts to navigate a transition to sustainability will be to reduce population growth while simultaneously improving the health, education, and opportunities of the world's people.

Population growth is an underlying threat to sustainability due to the increased consumption of energy and materials needed to provide for many more people, to crowding and competition for resources, to environmental degradation, and to the difficulties that added numbers pose in efforts to advance human development. Today, population growth has ended in most industrialized countries and rates of population growth are in decline everywhere except in parts of Africa (see Chapter 2) yet the population of 2050 is nonetheless predicted to reach about 9 billion. In a classic decomposition of future population growth in developing countries, a researcher examined the major sources of this continued growth: unwanted childbearing due to low availability of contraception, a still-large desired family size, and the large number of young people of reproductive age. 8 Currently, 120 million married women (and many more unmarried women) report in surveys that they are not practicing contraception despite a desire for smaller families or for more time between births. Meeting their needs for contraception would reduce future population growth by nearly 2 billion. At the same time, such surveys also show that the desired family size in most developing countries is still above two children. An immediate reduction to the level of replacement (2.1) would reduce future growth by about 1 billion. The remainder of future population growth can be accounted for by so-called population momentum, which is due to the extraordinarily large number of young

people. This momentum ensures that population growth will persist for decades even if fertility were to drop to replacement level.

Addressing each of these sources of future growth could reduce fertility and future population numbers further and faster than current trends would project. Opportunities include making contraception more readily available to those who desire it (Table 4.2), accelerating trends that lead to lower desired family size, and slowing the momentum of population growth arising from the large number of prospective parents that are alive today. 9 Linking voluntary family planning with other reproductive and child health services can increase access to contraception for the many who want it. Improving the survival of children, their education, and the status of girls and women has been correlated with and may lead to a desire for smaller families. Increasing the age of childbearing, primarily by improving the secondary education and income-generating opportunities for adolescent girls, can slow the momentum of population growth. All of these opportunities, if exploited, could contribute directly to our societal goals for a transition to sustainability at the same time, through these factors' influence on reducing the ultimate size of the population, they would increase the probability of meeting environmental goals.

Threats to human-well being stem from many environmental sources. Environmental factors can affect human health directly—through exposure to air pollution, heavy metals, and synthetic chemicals—and indirectly through loss of natural biological controls over opportunistic agents and vectors of infectious disease. Because of human introductions nearly

Table 4.2 Projections of the Population Size of the Developing World With and Without Unwanted Births

Projected population size (billions) in year

Standard* (with unwanted births)

Effect of unwanted fertility

*World Bank projection as quoted in Bos et al.

Source: Bongaarts (1994). Courtesy of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

50 years ago, the global environment now carries a number of synthetic chemicals that can interfere with human physiology, including the endocrine system, the immune system, and neurological function. 10 Additionally, heavy metal deposition in the environment is rising and will continue to increase under development scenarios implicit in meeting our normative goals. Health effects of exposure to heavy metals may be substantial, and include long-term neurological effects on intelligence and behavior. Air pollution is a critical problem of urban systems in many regions of the world, and the increase in air pollution with a rapidly urbanizing world raises serious concerns for human health and the health of crops and natural ecosystems. As described in Chapter 2, over the past several decades, there has been an emergence, resurgence, and redistribution of infectious diseases. The potential eruption of diseases in an increasingly populated world is a serious threat to sustainability goals. These diseases threaten human health, water safety, food security, and ecosystem health.

Fortunately, because of biological and other scientific revolutions and policy reform over the past decades, there are opportunities for addressing the health risks from exposure to environmental threats. Biotechnology holds great promise (for example, in the creation of new medicines and diagnostics, pest-resistant crop species, plants with low-water requirements, and biodegradable pesticides and herbicides). Policies that control the point sources of air pollution, deposition of heavy metals, and disposal of synthetic chemicals help resolve health-related problems for local and regional human populations and can have very significant and long-term payoffs for future generations. Also, the establishment of early warning systems and other predictive capabilities to identify conditions conducive to outbreaks and clusters of infectious disease could be useful for health institutions at all spatial scales.

In addition, a number of opportunities arise via interactions of this human well-being sector with others. For example, reduction in industrial wastes through approaches using industrial ecology would have large advantages for human health, and also for the environment as it is affected by energy and water sectors, through the increased efficiency of these resources' use. Finally, the maintenance of natural ecosystems and the protection of their services can influence human health in many ways, including by providing natural enemies for disease vectors and natural water and air purification and supply systems.

Cities

Over the next half century, urban populations are likely to grow from the present 3 billion to perhaps 7 billion people, with most of the growth

occurring in non-OECD (see Chapter 2 and 3). 11 Cities are engines of economic growth and wealth creation, of innovation and creativity, but they are also the sites of extremes of wealth and poverty, unequal access to drinking water and sanitation, pollution, and public health problems. As the Brundtland Commission noted, the growth of urban populations has often preceded development of the housing, infrastructure, and employment needed to sustain that population. In the 10 years from 1985 to 1995, a period during which the Brundtland report was published, the world saw the addition of the equivalent of 81 cities with populations of over a million people. 12 There have been dramatic and successful efforts to improve water, air, and sanitation services in developing world urban centers during this period. But the number of city dwellers without adequate water and exposed to poor sanitation and air pollution has grown as urban population growth has outpaced investments. 13 The health consequences of inadequate drinking water and poor sanitation services are felt most strongly by the poor.

Among the major challenges of urban development is air pollution, produced largely by the interactions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides produced in industrial and transportation processes as well as by heating and cooking. 14 While investments in pollution control in industrialized countries have led to air pollutant reductions in many cities, air pollution is still a major problem in the developed world. In the United States, some 80 million people live in areas that do not meet air quality standards, and in many European cities air pollutant concentrations are also higher than the established standards. 15 At the same time, air quality in the cities of the industrializing world has worsened. Worldwide, the World Health Organization estimates that 1.4 billion urban residents breathe air that fails to meet WHO air quality standards. 16

Access to water and sanitation services also present enormous challenges to rapidly growing cities. Despite concerted efforts during the 1980s, designated the "International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade" by the World Health Organization, in 1990 about 200 million urban dwellers were without a safe water supply, and around 400 million were without adequate sanitation. 17 In the largest cities of the industrializing world, the poorest populations in the slums and at the city margins tend to have the least access to safe water. For example, in Sao Paulo, nearly 20 percent of the city's population lived in slums (called favelas) in 1993 around 85 percent of the favelas had no sewerage service. 18 Innovative technological opportunities—such as condominial sewers, 19 improved ventilated pit latrines, various lower cost sewage treatments, and approaches to reuse of municipal wastewater—are available to provide flexible and cost-effective services and are being used with success in some regions, but have yet to be widely applied. Also, in some areas, such

Box 4.1 Mexico City's Water Supply

The population of Mexico City is approximately 20 million and growing, with much migration from rural areas. The continued growth has placed high demand on an unstable water supply network, designed to extract most of the city's water (72 percent) from the Mexico City Aquifer, which underlies the metropolitan area. Increasing land subsidence, groundwater contamination, and inadequate hazardous waste management have made the aquifer and water supply network vulnerable to contamination, posing risks to public health. A 1995 bi-national study of the problem was jointly undertaken by the Mexico Academy of Science, the Mexico Academy of Engineering, and the U.S. National Research Council. The study made recommendations on management of water supply through metering and pricing mechanisms, needed research, treatment of municipal wastewater prior to disposal, demand management approaches, a comprehensive groundwater protection program, a variety of water reclamation schemes, and possible institutional changes related to applying a new cultural perspective to the value of water in Mexico City. 20 It is noteworthy that this comprehensive study recommended several approaches to improved management and conservation of water—and none involving further resource development.

as Mexico City (see Box 4.1), high-priority attention can be given to treatment of municipal wastewater as part of a comprehensive plan for improving the balance of water supply, water demand, and water conservation.

In 1900, there were only 16 cities with populations of 1 million or more by 1994 there were 305 such cities—and of these, 13 had populations of greater than 10 million. 21 Most of this growth has taken place over the last 50 years. As described in Chapter 2, projections of population growth indicate that there will be nearly 7 billion urban dwellers by 2050. The most rapid expansion of high-density cities will be during the next several decades. This trend presents an opportunity to build modern, state-of-the-art facilities and to provide efficient infrastructure systems for the delivery of services. Maintenance and improvement of the quality, adaptability, reliability, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency of these systems are critical to established and aging cities as well. Realizing these opportunities, of course, depends on the foresight, will, capital, and incentives to take advantage of them. Seizing these chances would help to meet the future needs for housing, while reducing the footprint on the land, and, with increases in efficiency, the needs for energy and materials.

Agriculture and Food Security

The task of feeding an additional several billion people in the next 50 years is an unprecedented challenge, one fraught with biophysical,

environmental, and institutional hazards and roadblocks. Food demand will rise in response to population growth, growth of per capita income, and attempts to reduce the undernutrition of the very poor. By 2050 food demand could almost double to accommodate the projected population depending on the growth of income and the nature of diet. 22 But the paths to meeting these demands are far from clear. The challenge of feeding this population and reducing hunger requires dramatic advances both in food production, which we focus on here, and in food distribution and access. Production of the globally traded staples (maize, wheat, rice, soybeans, poultry, and swine) will be driven by new technologies already in or rapidly moving toward the private sector. 23 The emergence of genetic biotechnologies, protected by intellectual property rights and patenting, is attracting enormous private investment. Global markets and the movement of private capital into processing and marketing have increased handling efficiencies. Market balance among rich and poor countries, monopoly control, and environmental impacts due to the scale of operations all remain major issues. Industrial technologies are major engines for continued growth. Prospects for growth in production of the numerous "minor" or regional staples, such as cassava, yams, potatoes, grain legumes, millet, white maize, sorghum, and other crops critical to food security for a large segment of the world's poor, are not nearly as optimistic. Such growth is not now in progress nor is it projected for the foreseeable future. The Brundtland Commission recognized that a great strategic effort would be required to meet the challenge of feeding a growing population, yet the past 10 years have seen a reduction in resources for the international agricultural research community along with indicator values that increasingly show world capabilities for increasing food production are stagnating. 24

During the last half century, the dramatic gains in crop production that have occurred almost worldwide (except, in particular, Sub-Saharan Africa) have come from four interrelated sources: expansion of cultivated land, increased use of fertilizer and pest control chemicals, expansion of irrigated area, and the introduction of high-yielding crop varieties. The continued gains in agricultural production required in the 21 st century will be considerably more difficult to accomplish than in the immediate past. 25 There are currently difficulties in raising yield ceilings for the cereal crops, despite a history of rapid yield gains in the past. Incremental response to increases in fertilizer use has declined in many areas. Expansion of irrigated land has become more costly and has slowed dramatically in the past two decades. Because of rising demand for water with growing urbanization, water supplies are increasingly less available to agriculture. 26 The loss of soil fertility and degradation of agricultural lands due to inappropriate management, climate change, and other factors

has been reversed in some agricultural areas but at the same time has become an important issue in many other areas. 27 For example, the expansion of irrigated area, combined with the failure to design and implement incentive-compatible irrigation management, has contributed to waterlogging and soil salinity. Reductions in agricultural productivity due to air and water quality changes, some of which emanate from agriculture itself, have also raised concerns. 28 Increasing pest problems because of increasing pesticide resistance stemming from misuse of chemical pesticides, the decimation of natural enemies, and the invasion of new pests are also topics of concern. 29 Any one of these problems alone could impede efforts toward increasing production and yield. Together, these biophysical factors threaten achieving a successful transition toward sustainability.

Perhaps more important still are the threats associated with inadequate investment in the agricultural sector now—for research, education, technological developments, and transfer of knowledge and information to the developing world. 30 Local agricultural research capacity, local public and private capacity to make knowledge, technology, and materials available to producers, and the schooling or informal education of farmers and farm workers are all required for sustained growth in agricultural production. The international agricultural research system and the private sector research community are important sources of new knowledge and new technology, 31 but these systems are effective only in the presence of viable national and regional research systems capable of adapting new technologies to local agroclimatic conditions. Finally, productivity and sustainability depend on the knowledge that farm people bring to the management of their resources and production education is critical. Institutions must make advances in the technology and management approaches available to farmers, and local financial credit and labor markets must function effectively.

Limitations of institutional capacity may be one of the reasons why Sub-Saharan African countries have failed to realize the gains in productivity that have been achieved by green revolution technology in South and Southeast Asia and Latin America. Institutional limitations, along with political instability, complex land tenure systems, and unique agroclimatic environments may all contribute to the apparent lag in productivity gains there. Understanding the dimensions and factors controlling this failure is critically important because Sub-Saharan Africa is the major region where growth in agricultural production is running behind population growth. One of the major challenges of the sustainability transition will be to develop new and appropriate approaches to improve food production in this region.

If the development of international and national agricultural research

systems is maintained, there are many opportunities to enhance our ability to respond to growing world food demand at the same time that we sustain resources and the broader environment. Improved varieties and better management could lead to increases in yield, at least up to fundamental limits set by plant physiology. Scientific and technological breakthroughs, particularly in the area of biotechnology, could over the long term lead to a lifting of the yield ceilings that have been set by the green revolution technologies. 32 Biotechnology is still in its infancy, and its application is controversial. Nevertheless, both the science and the technology are advancing rapidly, and the development and diffusion of biotechnologies may play an important role in increasing and sustaining agricultural production in many areas of the world.

While biotechnology holds substantial hope for improving crop production and efficiency of resource use, many other opportunities exist to increase and sustain food production while decreasing environmental consequences. Protection and careful utilization of soil, water, and biological resources underlie many of these opportunities, and promising management approaches have already been developed and successfully used in some places. For example, integrated nutrient management, like integrated pest management, takes advantage of the ecological processes operating in soils and crop ecosystems and uses them in combination with industrial inputs to optimize productivity and reduce pesticide and nutrient spread. 33 Ecologically based pest management takes advantage of biological diversity to reduce the need for pesticide use. Increased use of efficient irrigation systems will conserve and maintain water supplies and lessen competition with urban and other uses. 34 In breeding programs, increasing attention to flexibility and genetic diversity of crop plants can increase the ability of the agricultural sector to respond to climate and other environmental ''surprises." 35 The development of management systems and breeding programs for regional staple crops could also enlarge the food security basket for the poor in many regions. For these opportunities to be useful, new knowledge is needed about both the biophysical crop system and the sociological barriers to implementation. Taking advantage of these opportunities will help to provide the food needs for future human populations, while preserving water in areas of scarcity and reducing pressure on the land.

Industry

Over the next two generations, the global market for goods and services is likely to increase two- to four-fold (Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 appendix). With that increase will come an enormous demand for materials. Avoiding the waste, pollution, and environmental disruption now

associated with the extraction, processing, and consumption of materials, and reducing energy and water inputs into industrial production, are the foremost issues during the transition to sustainability. In the 10 years since the Brundtland Commission's challenge to industry to produce more with less, there have been substantial improvements in reducing and reusing materials by both industry and consumers. But the trend toward increasing material use efficiency and dematerialization, discussed in Chapter 2, must be accomplished universally and at much faster rates if it is to offset the rapid increases in production forecasts for the next decades.

The demand for materials to meet expanding markets may in some cases be limited by resource shortages. However, given a supply of energy at competitive prices, the increased demand most likely will result in substantial materials substitutions. Absolute materials shortages are unlikely, at least in the next several decades. 36 The materials challenge, instead, is likely to be associated with pollution due to the "leakage" of materials from the manufacturing, processing, and consumption systems. 37 Such leakages include not only those of nontoxic but valuable materials wasted in the production and consumption streams, and also those of a variety of toxic and hazardous substances used in industrial production. More than 12 billion tons of industrial waste are generated in the United States each year and municipal solid wastes, which include consumer wastes, are generated at the rate of 0.2 billion tons per year. 38 Clearly, such residual production must be brought under control, or better yet, prevented.

Again, some of these leakages represent not just loss of valuable materials but of substances presenting specific toxicological and ecological threats. More than 100,000 industrial chemicals are in use today, and the number is increasing rapidly in the expanding agriculture, metals, electronics, textiles, and food industries. 39 Some of the effects of these chemicals are well known, but there are insufficient data for health assessment for the majority of these chemicals. Some, like the persistent organic pollutants, are widely distributed beyond their points of origin and concentrate as they move up the food chain. Human exposure to these pollutants can cause immune dysfunction, reproductive and behavioral abnormalities, and cancer. Also, heavy metals such as lead, copper, and zinc can reside in the environment for hundreds of years human exposure to them can lead to kidney damage, developmental retardation, cancer, and autoimmune responses. Nevertheless, global production, consumption, and circulation of many toxic metals and organics have increased dramatically in the last half century because of their utility in many industrial activities, though production began to level off in the early 1970s and emissions began to decline (Figure 4.1). But numerous opportunities exist to reduce material usage as well as

environmentally harmful leakages. Refurbishing or remanufacturing used products or their parts, changing the nature of the product used to a new condition for accomplishing the same purpose (usually provision of a service instead of the product), 40 and recycling and reuse of used subsystems, parts, and materials in products all generally require much less energy, capital, and labor than the original creation of the materials and products. In addition, such processes minimize environmental damage. There is a clear and obvious case for us to examine what we know about the role of industry in the flow of materials, energy, and products, the effects of market forces (e.g., on recycling), and the possibilities for modifying these flows through the system, for more efficient energy use, decreasing environmental damage, and improving the efficiency of providing goods and services.

In recent years, many industries have moved to increase the efficiency of using materials in processing and to control the loss of scrap and other wastes from the production cycle. For example, one corporate plan for introducing customer return programs (copier machines as well as disposable parts like toner cartridges for copiers) led to remanufactured equipment from 30,000 tons of copying machines, thereby reducing both the load on landfills and the consumption of raw materials and energy. 41 Control of leakage is also a means of cost control for industrial production, and there are precedents for the creation of profitable industrial operations based on recapture of consumer materials. Approaches that control the production of garbage and reduce leakage of materials at the consumer end have also been used in some parts of the world. Product recycling has dramatically increased and design of products to facilitate recycling has become a tenet of "industrial ecology." 42 Despite these successes, there is a worldwide loss of valuable materials because of leakage. Thus, one significant set of challenges rests in the development of incentives for higher efficiency and lower leakage from producer and consumer systems. Among such actions would be (1) the provision of incentives to identify heretofore unrecognized economic value of materials (2) the elimination of historical market distortions (e.g., subsidies) that may interfere with choices that would be more sustainable in the absence of the distortions and (3) the provision of incentives to move to competitively priced energy whose production does not result in the release of carbon dioxide (i.e., through the use of noncarbon sources or carbon sequestration).

Beyond the challenges related to the reduction and elimination of industrial wastes, the rapidly changing industrial trajectory carries with it the general problem of anticipating problems in new industries and of projecting the dynamics of employment into a future with many more people. The past decade has seen a shift to increasing employment and

Figure 4.1
Global production and consumption of selected toxic metals, 1850-1990. The
figure indicates that within the last 20 years, emissions of lead, copper and zinc
have begun to decline.
Source: Nriagu (1979). Updated in Nriagu (1996). Courtesy of the Macmillan
Magazines, Ltd. and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

productivity within industry. Nonetheless, the current trends toward production of more by fewer people could lead to persistent unemployment of an expanded population, a spectre not foreseen by the Brundtland Commission. 43

As the preceding paragraphs make clear, industry is faced with many enormous challenges and much responsibility for reducing and preventing environmental problems related to industrial wastes and leakages. At the same time, however, it also faces a tremendous opportunity for massive market expansion, the development of new technologies (and, therefore new product possibilities, even beyond the products for which the technologies were developed), and the creation of totally new markets based on the requirements of new customers in industrializing countries. There is also great potential for the industrializing world to skip over transitional technologies to new, cleaner technologies without experiencing the same environmental degradation as the industrialized world due to the use of more traditional technologies. The capital, barriers, and

incentives to diffusion must be understood and addressed to meet this potential. Meeting the coupled objectives of designing and producing for product competitiveness and for environmental protection and resource conservation is the critical challenge to industry in the next century, and the resulting effects will be felt in all other sectors. Involving industry directly in these challenges and in finding the means to meet them is an opportunity to bring creative actors into the process voluntarily, as well as under incentive and regulatory forces.

Energy

Energy is a critical ingredient in most activities of industrialized and industrializing economies. It is required to extract, process, fabricate and recycle materials, to heat and cool homes and places of business, to produce foods, to move people and goods, and to power communications. For a successful transition to sustainability, energy sources must grow at sufficient rates to maintain other energy-dependent activities, yet at the same time must impose few if any environmental costs in the form of local air pollution, carbon dioxide, toxic residuals, and despoiled land. The world will need to find a way that allows 9 billion people or more to enjoy a lifestyle that requires energy while at the same time protects and sustains human health and the health of the biosphere from local to global scales.

Numerous environmental hazards, including climate change, acidification of water and soil, and air pollution, stem from our dependence on fossil fuel energy. Alone or together, these significant and accumulating hazards can influence a transition toward sustainability. These environmental risks, rather than any limitations of fossil fuel energy resources, are the most significant factors facing the energy sector today. In most industrialized nations, emissions controls are beginning to bring local and regional pollution under control. In contrast, in much of the developing world, local and regional pollution poses serious and growing problems. Regarding global atmospheric changes, in the 10 years since the Brundtland report, much of the world has come to acknowledge the threat from greenhouse gas emissions via international conventions and agreements, but with few exceptions serious constraints on emissions have not been implemented (see Chapters 1 and 2).

For years there have been concerns about limited reserves of fossil fuel. Modern estimates, however, suggest that despite extensive past extraction, the world has very large reserves. In the absence of "externality" taxes (taxes imposed on these fuels to cover their environmental costs) or other policy changes, fossil fuels are likely to remain abundant and cheap for decades to come. A number of direct and indirect subsidies


Technical Reports

External Exposure to Radionuclides in Air, Water and Soil
This federal guidance updates and expands the 1993 Federal Guidance Report No. 12 (FGR 12), providing age-specific reference person effective dose rate coefficients for 1,252 radionuclides based on external exposure to radionuclides distributed in air, water or soil.

Compared to FGR 12, FGR 15 incorporates six different age groups (whereas FGR 12 had one), updated tissue weighting factors (as recommended in ICRP Publication 103) and radionuclide decay data (as provided in ICRP Publication 107), and improved computing power to provide more precise calculations.

Radiation Protection Guidance for Diagnostic and Interventional X-Ray Procedures
This federal guidance provides federal facilities that use diagnostic and interventional x-ray equipment with recommendations for keeping patient doses as low as reasonably achievable without compromising the quality of patient care. The Interagency Working Group on Medical Radiation updated this guidance to address the significant increase in the use of digital imaging technology, such as CT scans, and high dose procedures, such as interventional fluoroscopy. This report supersedes Federal Guidance Report No. 9.

This report provides methods and data for estimating risks due to both internal and external radionuclide radionuclideRadioactive forms of elements are called radionuclides. Radium-226, Cesium-137, and Strontium-90 are examples of radionuclides. exposures. It includes coefficients for assessing cancer risks from environmental exposure to about 800 radionuclides. Both mortality and incidence risk riskThe probability of injury, disease or death from exposure to a hazard. Radiation risk may refer to all excess cancers caused by radiation exposure (incidence risk) or only excess fatal cancers (mortality risk). Risk may be expressed as a percent, a fraction, or a decimal value. For example, a 1% excess risk of cancer incidence is the same as a 1 in a hundred (1/100) risk or a risk of 0.01. coefficients are tabulated for inhalation, food and water ingestion, submersion in air and exposure to uniform soil concentrations. The age-averaged coefficients consider age-specific intake rates, dose modeling and risk modeling. The information presented in this report is for use in assessing risks from radionuclide exposure in a variety of applications ranging from environmental impact analyses of specific sites to the general analyses that support rulemaking.

Background Material for the Development of Radiation Protection Standards: Protective Action Guides for Strontium-89, Strontium-90 and Cesium-137 (Federal Radiation Council)
This report provides background material used in the development of guidance for federal agencies in planning activities to protect the population from strontium-89, strontium-90, and cesium-137 for certain situations.

Revised Fallout Estimates for 1964-1965 and Verification of the 1963 Predictions (Federal Radiation Council)
This report documented a study showing that the predictions in the Federal Radiation Council Report No. 4 were substantially correct, and the conclusions in that report still apply.


Contents

The arrival of humans in an area, to live or to conduct agriculture, necessarily has environmental impacts. These range from simple crowding out of wild plants in favor of more desirable cultivars to larger scale impacts such as reducing biodiversity by reducing food availability of native species, which can propagate across food chains. The use of agricultural chemicals such as fertilizer and pesticides magnify those impacts. While advances in agrochemistry have reduced those impacts, [ citation needed ] for example by the replacement of long-lived chemicals with those that reliably degrade, even in the best case they remain substantial. These effects are magnified by the use of older chemistries and poor management practices. [4] [6]

While concern for ecotoxicology began with acute poisoning events in the late 19th century public concern over the undesirable environmental effects of chemicals arose in the early 1960s with the publication of Rachel Carson′s book, Silent Spring. Shortly thereafter, DDT, originally used to combat malaria, and its metabolites were shown to cause population-level effects in raptorial birds. Initial studies in industrialized countries focused on acute mortality effects mostly involving birds or fish. [7]

After the end of World War II, the United States shifted its industries from the wartime production of chemicals to synthetic agriculturally used pesticide creation, utilizing pyrethrum, rotenone, nicotine, sabadilla, and quassin as precursors to the expansive usage of pesticides in place today. [8] Synthetic pesticides proved cheap and effective in killing insects, but garnered criticism from NGOs concerned about their effect on human health. In the years directly following World War II rose the creation and use of Aldrin (now banned in most countries), "dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane (DDT) in 1939, Dieldrin, βBenzene Hexachloride (BHC), 2,4- Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), Chlordane and Endrin". [ citation needed ] In 2016, the United States consumed 322 million pounds of pesticides banned in the EU, 26 million pounds of pesticides banned in Brazil and 40 million pounds of pesticides banned in China, with most of banned pesticides banned staying constant or increasing in the United States over the past 25 years according to studies. [9]

However, true data on pesticide usage remain scattered and/or not publicly available, especially worldwide (3). Some scholars argue the common practice of incident registration is inadequate for understanding the entirety of effects. [7]

Since 1990, research interest has shifted from documenting incidents and quantifying chemical exposure to studies aimed at linking laboratory, mesocosm and field experiments. The proportion of effect-related publications has increased. Animal studies mostly focus on fish, insects, birds, amphibians and arachnids. [7]

Since 1993, the United States and the European Union have updated pesticide risk assessments, ending the use of acutely toxic organophosphate and carbamate insecticides. Newer pesticides aim at efficiency in target and minimum side effects in nontarget organisms. The phylogenetic proximity of beneficial and pest species complicates the project. [7]

One of the major challenges is to link the results from cellular studies through many levels of increasing complexity to ecosystems. [7]

The concept (borrowed from nuclear physics) of a half-life has been utilized for pesticides in plants, [10] and certain authors maintain that pesticide risk and impact assessment models rely on and are sensitive to information describing dissipation from plants. [11] Half-life for pesticides is explained in two NPIC fact sheets. Known degradation pathways are through: photolysis, chemical dissociation, sorption, bioaccumulation and plant or animal metabolism. [12] [13] A USDA fact sheet published in 1994 lists the soil adsorption coefficient and soil half-life for then-commonly used pesticides. [14] [15]

Today, over 3.5 billion kilograms of synthetic pesticides are used for the world's agriculture in an over $45 billion industry. [16] Current lead agrichemical producers include Syngenta (ChemChina), Bayer Crop Science, BASF, Dow AgroSciences, FMC, ADAMA, Nufarm, Corteva, Sumitomo Chemical, UPL, and Huapont Life Sciences. Bayer CropScience and its acquisition of Monsanto led it to record profits in 2019 of over $10 billion in sales, which herbicide shares growing by 22%, followed closely by Syngenta. [17] While dubbed economic and ecologically sound practices by suppliers, the effects of agricultural pesticides can include toxicity, bioaccumulation, persistence, and physiological responses in humans and wildlife, and several international NGOs have risen in response to the economic activities of these larger, transnational corporations, such as Pesticide Action Network. [18]

Pesticide environmental effects
Pesticide/class Effect(s)
Organochlorine DDT/DDE Endocrine disruptor [19]
Thyroid disruption properties in rodents, birds, amphibians and fish [20]
Acute mortality attributed to inhibition of acetylcholinesterase activity [21]
DDT Egg shell thinning in raptorial birds [20]
Carcinogen [19]
Endocrine disruptor [19]
DDT/Diclofol, Dieldrin and Toxaphene Juvenile population decline and adult mortality in wildlife reptiles [22]
DDT/Toxaphene/Parathion Susceptibility to fungal infection [23]
Triazine Earthworms became infected with monocystid gregarines [7]
Chlordane Interact with vertebrate immune systems [23]
Carbamates, the phenoxy herbicide 2,4-D, and atrazine Interact with vertebrate immune systems [23]
Anticholinesterase Bird poisoning [21]
Animal infections, disease outbreaks and higher mortality. [24]
Organophosphate Thyroid disruption properties in rodents, birds, amphibians and fish [20]
Acute mortality attributed to inhibition of acetylcholine esterase activity [21]
Immunotoxicity, primarily caused by the inhibition of serine hydrolases or esterases [25]
Oxidative damage [25]
Modulation of signal transduction pathways [25]
Impaired metabolic functions such as thermoregulation, water and/or food intake and behavior, impaired development, reduced reproduction and hatching success in vertebrates. [26]
Carbamate Thyroid disruption properties in rodents, birds, amphibians and fish [20]
Impaired metabolic functions such as thermoregulation, water and/or food intake and behavior, impaired development, reduced reproduction and hatching success in vertebrates. [26]
Interact with vertebrate immune systems [23]
Acute mortality attributed to inhibition of acetylcholine esterase activity [21]
Phenoxy herbicide 2,4-D Interact with vertebrate immune systems [23]
Atrazine Interact with vertebrate immune systems [23]
Reduced northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens) populations because atrazine killed phytoplankton, thus allowing light to penetrate the water column and periphyton to assimilate nutrients released from the plankton. Periphyton growth provided more food to grazers, increasing snail populations, which provide intermediate hosts for trematode. [27]
Pyrethroid Thyroid disruption properties in rodents, birds, amphibians and fish [20]
Thiocarbamate Thyroid disruption properties in rodents, birds, amphibians and fish [20]
Triazine Thyroid disruption properties in rodents, birds, amphibians and fish [20]
Triazole Thyroid disruption properties in rodents, birds, amphibians and fish [20]
Impaired metabolic functions such as thermoregulation, water and/or food intake and behavior, impaired development, reduced reproduction and hatching success in vertebrates.
Neonicotinoic/Nicotinoid respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological, and immunological toxicity in rats and humans [28]
Disrupt biogenic amine signaling and cause subsequent olfactory dysfunction, as well as affecting foraging behavior, learning and memory.
Imidacloprid, Imidacloprid/pyrethroid λ-cyhalothrin Impaired foraging, brood development, and colony success in terms of growth rate and new queen production. [29]
Thiamethoxam High honey bee worker mortality due to homing failure [30] (risks for colony collapse remain controversial) [31]
Flupyradifurone Lethal and sublethal adverse synergistic effects in bees. [32] Its toxicity depends on season and nutritional stress, and can reduce bee survival, food consumption, thermoregulation, flight success, and increase flight velocity. [33] It has the same mode of action of neonicotinoids. [34]
Spinosyns Affect various physiological and behavioral traits of beneficial arthropods, particularly hymenopterans [35]
Bt corn/Cry Reduced abundance of some insect taxa, predominantly susceptible Lepidopteran herbivores as well as their predators and parasitoids. [7]
Herbicide Reduced food availability and adverse secondary effects on soil invertebrates and butterflies [36]
Decreased species abundance and diversity in small mammals. [36]
Benomyl Altered the patch-level floral display and later a two-thirds reduction of the total number of bee visits and in a shift in the visitors from large-bodied bees to small-bodied bees and flies [37]
Herbicide and planting cycles Reduced survival and reproductive rates in seed-eating or carnivorous birds [38]

Pesticides can contribute to air pollution. Pesticide drift occurs when pesticides suspended in the air as particles are carried by wind to other areas, potentially contaminating them. [39] Pesticides that are applied to crops can volatilize and may be blown by winds into nearby areas, potentially posing a threat to wildlife. [40] Weather conditions at the time of application as well as temperature and relative humidity change the spread of the pesticide in the air. As wind velocity increases so does the spray drift and exposure. Low relative humidity and high temperature result in more spray evaporating. The amount of inhalable pesticides in the outdoor environment is therefore often dependent on the season. [3] Also, droplets of sprayed pesticides or particles from pesticides applied as dusts may travel on the wind to other areas, [41] or pesticides may adhere to particles that blow in the wind, such as dust particles. [42] Ground spraying produces less pesticide drift than aerial spraying does. [43] Farmers can employ a buffer zone around their crop, consisting of empty land or non-crop plants such as evergreen trees to serve as windbreaks and absorb the pesticides, preventing drift into other areas. [44] Such windbreaks are legally required in the Netherlands. [44]

Pesticides that are sprayed on to fields and used to fumigate soil can give off chemicals called volatile organic compounds, which can react with other chemicals and form a pollutant called tropospheric ozone. Pesticide use accounts for about 6 percent of total tropospheric ozone levels. [45]

In the United States, pesticides were found to pollute every stream and over 90% of wells sampled in a study by the US Geological Survey. [46] Pesticide residues have also been found in rain and groundwater. [47] Studies by the UK government showed that pesticide concentrations exceeded those allowable for drinking water in some samples of river water and groundwater. [48]

Pesticide impacts on aquatic systems are often studied using a hydrology transport model to study movement and fate of chemicals in rivers and streams. As early as the 1970s quantitative analysis of pesticide runoff was conducted in order to predict amounts of pesticide that would reach surface waters. [49]

There are four major routes through which pesticides reach the water: it may drift outside of the intended area when it is sprayed, it may percolate, or leach through the soil, it may be carried to the water as runoff, or it may be spilled, for example accidentally or through neglect. [50] They may also be carried to water by eroding soil. [51] Factors that affect a pesticide's ability to contaminate water include its water solubility, the distance from an application site to a body of water, weather, soil type, presence of a growing crop, and the method used to apply the chemical. [52]

United States regulations Edit

In the US, maximum limits of allowable concentrations for individual pesticides in drinking water are set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for public water systems. [47] [52] (There are no federal standards for private wells. [53] ) Ambient water quality standards for pesticide concentrations in water bodies are principally developed by state environmental agencies, with EPA oversight. These standards may be issued for individual water bodies, or may apply statewide. [54] [55]

United Kingdom regulations Edit

The United Kingdom sets Environmental Quality Standards (EQS), or maximum allowable concentrations of some pesticides in bodies of water above which toxicity may occur. [56]

European Union regulations Edit

The European Union also regulates maximum concentrations of pesticides in water. [56]

The extensive use of pesticides in agricultural production can degrade and damage the community of microorganisms living in the soil, particularly when these chemicals are overused or misused as chemical compounds build up in the soil. [57] The full impact of pesticides on soil microorganisms is still not entirely understood many studies have found deleterious effects of pesticides on soil microorganisms and biochemical processes, while others have found that the residue of some pesticides can be degraded and assimilated by microorganisms. [58] The effect of pesticides on soil microorganisms is impacted by the persistence, concentration, and toxicity of the applied pesticide, in addition to various environmental factors. [59] This complex interaction of factors makes it difficult to draw definitive conclusions about the interaction of pesticides with the soil ecosystem. In general, long-term pesticide application can disturb the biochemical processes of nutrient cycling. [58]

Many of the chemicals used in pesticides are persistent soil contaminants, whose impact may endure for decades and adversely affect soil conservation. [60]

The use of pesticides decreases the general biodiversity in the soil. Not using the chemicals results in higher soil quality, [61] with the additional effect that more organic matter in the soil allows for higher water retention. [47] This helps increase yields for farms in drought years, when organic farms have had yields 20-40% higher than their conventional counterparts. [62] A smaller content of organic matter in the soil increases the amount of pesticide that will leave the area of application, because organic matter binds to and helps break down pesticides. [47]

Degradation and sorption are both factors which influence the persistence of pesticides in soil. Depending on the chemical nature of the pesticide, such processes control directly the transportation from soil to water, and in turn to air and our food. Breaking down organic substances, degradation, involves interactions among microorganisms in the soil. Sorption affects bioaccumulation of pesticides which are dependent on organic matter in the soil. Weak organic acids have been shown to be weakly sorbed by soil, because of pH and mostly acidic structure. Sorbed chemicals have been shown to be less accessible to microorganisms. Aging mechanisms are poorly understood but as residence times in soil increase, pesticide residues become more resistant to degradation and extraction as they lose biological activity. [63]

Nitrogen fixation, which is required for the growth of higher plants, is hindered by pesticides in soil. [64] The insecticides DDT, methyl parathion, and especially pentachlorophenol have been shown to interfere with legume-rhizobium chemical signaling. [64] Reduction of this symbiotic chemical signaling results in reduced nitrogen fixation and thus reduced crop yields. [64] Root nodule formation in these plants saves the world economy $10 billion in synthetic nitrogen fertilizer every year. [65]

Pesticides can kill bees and are strongly implicated in pollinator decline, the loss of species that pollinate plants, including through the mechanism of Colony Collapse Disorder, [66] [67] [68] [69] [ unreliable source? ] in which worker bees from a beehive or western honey bee colony abruptly disappear. Application of pesticides to crops that are in bloom can kill honeybees, [39] which act as pollinators. The USDA and USFWS estimate that US farmers lose at least $200 million a year from reduced crop pollination because pesticides applied to fields eliminate about a fifth of honeybee colonies in the US and harm an additional 15%. [1]

On the other side, pesticides have some direct harmful effect on plant including poor root hair development, shoot yellowing and reduced plant growth. [70]

Many kinds of animals are harmed by pesticides, leading many countries to regulate pesticide usage through Biodiversity Action Plans.

Animals including humans may be poisoned by pesticide residues that remain on food, for example when wild animals enter sprayed fields or nearby areas shortly after spraying. [43]

Pesticides can eliminate some animals' essential food sources, causing the animals to relocate, change their diet or starve. Residues can travel up the food chain for example, birds can be harmed when they eat insects and worms that have consumed pesticides. [39] Earthworms digest organic matter and increase nutrient content in the top layer of soil. They protect human health by ingesting decomposing litter and serving as bioindicators of soil activity. Pesticides have had harmful effects on growth and reproduction on earthworms. [71] Some pesticides can bioaccumulate, or build up to toxic levels in the bodies of organisms that consume them over time, a phenomenon that impacts species high on the food chain especially hard. [39]

Birds Edit

The US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that 72 million birds are killed by pesticides in the United States each year. [73] Bald eagles are common examples of nontarget organisms that are impacted by pesticide use. Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring dealt with damage to bird species due to pesticide bioaccumulation. There is evidence that birds are continuing to be harmed by pesticide use. In the farmland of the United Kingdom, populations of ten different bird species declined by 10 million breeding individuals between 1979 and 1999, allegedly from loss of plant and invertebrate species on which the birds feed. Throughout Europe, 116 species of birds were threatened as of 1999. Reductions in bird populations have been found to be associated with times and areas in which pesticides are used. [74] DDE-induced egg shell thinning has especially affected European and North American bird populations. [75] From 1990 to 2014 the number of common farmland birds has declined in the European Union as a whole and in France, Belgium and Sweden in Germany, which relies more on organic farming and less on pesticides the decline has been slower in Switzerland, which does not rely much on intensive agriculture, after a decline in the early 2000s the level has returned to the one of 1990. [72] In another example, some types of fungicides used in peanut farming are only slightly toxic to birds and mammals, but may kill earthworms, which can in turn reduce populations of the birds and mammals that feed on them. [43]

Some pesticides come in granular form. Wildlife may eat the granules, mistaking them for grains of food. A few granules of a pesticide may be enough to kill a small bird. [43] Herbicides may endanger bird populations by reducing their habitat. [43]

Aquatic life Edit

Fish and other aquatic biota may be harmed by pesticide-contaminated water. [76] Pesticide surface runoff into rivers and streams can be highly lethal to aquatic life, sometimes killing all the fish in a particular stream. [77]

Application of herbicides to bodies of water can cause fish kills when the dead plants decay and consume the water's oxygen, suffocating the fish. Herbicides such as copper sulfate that are applied to water to kill plants are toxic to fish and other water animals at concentrations similar to those used to kill the plants. Repeated exposure to sublethal doses of some pesticides can cause physiological and behavioral changes that reduce fish populations, such as abandonment of nests and broods, decreased immunity to disease and decreased predator avoidance. [76]

Application of herbicides to bodies of water can kill plants on which fish depend for their habitat. [76]

Pesticides can accumulate in bodies of water to levels that kill off zooplankton, the main source of food for young fish. [78] Pesticides can also kill off insects on which some fish feed, causing the fish to travel farther in search of food and exposing them to greater risk from predators. [76]

The faster a given pesticide breaks down in the environment, the less threat it poses to aquatic life. Insecticides are typically more toxic to aquatic life than herbicides and fungicides. [76]

Amphibians Edit

In the past several decades, amphibian populations have declined across the world, for unexplained reasons which are thought to be varied but of which pesticides may be a part. [79]

Pesticide mixtures appear to have a cumulative toxic effect on frogs. Tadpoles from ponds containing multiple pesticides take longer to metamorphose and are smaller when they do, decreasing their ability to catch prey and avoid predators. [80] Exposing tadpoles to the organochloride endosulfan at levels likely to be found in habitats near fields sprayed with the chemical kills the tadpoles and causes behavioral and growth abnormalities. [81]

The herbicide atrazine can turn male frogs into hermaphrodites, decreasing their ability to reproduce. [80] Both reproductive and nonreproductive effects in aquatic reptiles and amphibians have been reported. Crocodiles, many turtle species and some lizards lack sex-distinct chromosomes until after fertilization during organogenesis, depending on temperature. Embryonic exposure in turtles to various PCBs causes a sex reversal. Across the United States and Canada disorders such as decreased hatching success, feminization, skin lesions, and other developmental abnormalities have been reported. [75]

Humans Edit

Pesticides can enter the body through inhalation of aerosols, dust and vapor that contain pesticides through oral exposure by consuming food/water and through skin exposure by direct contact. [82] Pesticides secrete into soils and groundwater which can end up in drinking water, and pesticide spray can drift and pollute the air.

The effects of pesticides on human health depend on the toxicity of the chemical and the length and magnitude of exposure. [83] Farm workers and their families experience the greatest exposure to agricultural pesticides through direct contact. Every human contains pesticides in their fat cells.

Children are more susceptible and sensitive to pesticides, [82] because they are still developing and have a weaker immune system than adults. Children may be more exposed due to their closer proximity to the ground and tendency to put unfamiliar objects in their mouth. Hand to mouth contact depends on the child's age, much like lead exposure. Children under the age of six months are more apt to experience exposure from breast milk and inhalation of small particles. Pesticides tracked into the home from family members increase the risk of exposure. Toxic residue in food may contribute to a child's exposure. [84] The chemicals can bioaccumulate in the body over time.

Exposure effects can range from mild skin irritation to birth defects, tumors, genetic changes, blood and nerve disorders, endocrine disruption, coma or death. [83] Developmental effects have been associated with pesticides. Recent increases in childhood cancers in throughout North America, such as leukemia, may be a result of somatic cell mutations. [85] Insecticides targeted to disrupt insects can have harmful effects on mammalian nervous systems. Both chronic and acute alterations have been observed in exposes. DDT and its breakdown product DDE disturb estrogenic activity and possibly lead to breast cancer. Fetal DDT exposure reduces male penis size in animals and can produce undescended testicles. Pesticide can affect fetuses in early stages of development, in utero and even if a parent was exposed before conception. Reproductive disruption has the potential to occur by chemical reactivity and through structural changes. [86]

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are compounds that resist degradation and thus remain in the environment for years. Some pesticides, including aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, mirex and toxaphene, are considered POPs. Some POPs have the ability to volatilize and travel great distances through the atmosphere to become deposited in remote regions. Such chemicals may have the ability to bioaccumulate and biomagnify and can biomagnify (i.e. become more concentrated) up to 70,000 times their original concentrations. [87] POPs can affect non-target organisms in the environment and increase risk to humans [88] by disruption in the endocrine, reproductive, and respiratory systems. [87]

Pests may evolve to become resistant to pesticides. Many pests will initially be very susceptible to pesticides, but following mutations in their genetic makeup become resistant and survive to reproduce.

Resistance is commonly managed through pesticide rotation, which involves alternating among pesticide classes with different modes of action to delay the onset of or mitigate existing pest resistance. [89]

Non-target organisms can also be impacted by pesticides. In some cases, a pest insect that is controlled by a beneficial predator or parasite can flourish should an insecticide application kill both pest and beneficial populations. A study comparing biological pest control and pyrethroid insecticide for diamondback moths, a major cabbage family insect pest, showed that the pest population rebounded due to loss of insect predators, whereas the biocontrol did not show the same effect. [90] Likewise, pesticides sprayed to control mosquitoes may temporarily depress mosquito populations, they may result in a larger population in the long run by damaging natural controls. [39] This phenomenon, wherein the population of a pest species rebounds to equal or greater numbers than it had before pesticide use, is called pest resurgence and can be linked to elimination of its predators and other natural enemies. [91]

Loss of predator species can also lead to a related phenomenon called secondary pest outbreaks, an increase in problems from species that were not originally a problem due to loss of their predators or parasites. [91] An estimated third of the 300 most damaging insects in the US were originally secondary pests and only became a major problem after the use of pesticides. [1] In both pest resurgence and secondary outbreaks, their natural enemies were more susceptible to the pesticides than the pests themselves, in some cases causing the pest population to be higher than it was before the use of pesticide. [91]

Environmental modelling indicates that globally over 60% of global agricultural land (

24.5 million km²) is "at risk of pesticide pollution by more than one active ingredient", and that over 30% is at "high risk" of which a third are in high-biodiversity regions. [92] [93]

Many alternatives are available to reduce the effects pesticides have on the environment. Alternatives include manual removal, applying heat, covering weeds with plastic, placing traps and lures, removing pest breeding sites, maintaining healthy soils that breed healthy, more resistant plants, cropping native species that are naturally more resistant to native pests and supporting biocontrol agents such as birds and other pest predators. [94] In the United States, conventional pesticide use peaked in 1979, and by 2007, had been reduced by 25 percent from the 1979 peak level, [95] while US agricultural output increased by 43 percent over the same period. [96]

Biological controls such as resistant plant varieties and the use of pheromones, have been successful and at times permanently resolve a pest problem. [97] Integrated Pest Management (IPM) employs chemical use only when other alternatives are ineffective. IPM causes less harm to humans and the environment. The focus is broader than on a specific pest, considering a range of pest control alternatives. [98] Biotechnology can also be an innovative way to control pests. Strains can be genetically modified (GM) to increase their resistance to pests. [97]

Pesticide Action Network Edit

While dubbed economic and ecologically sound practices by suppliers, the effects of agricultural pesticides can include toxicity, bioaccumulation, persistence, and physiological responses in humans and wildlife, and several international NGOs have risen in response to the economic activities of these larger, transnational corporations, such as Pesticide Action Network. [18] Historically, PAN's efforts have targeted the Dirty Dozen, resulting in treaties and global environmental law banning persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as endosulfan, campaigns for Prior Informed Consent (PIC) for countries in the Global South for the right to know what hazardous and banned chemicals they are importing, resulting in the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent which became law in 2004, and "shifting global aid away from pesticides" through community monitoring and serving as a watchdog for the World Bank policy failures, eventually co-authoring the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) and cementing agroecological knowledge and farming techniques are crucial to the future of agriculture. [99]


Earth's Five Types of Natural Environments

The Earth’s surface contains a number of diverse natural environments. A natural environment can be defined as the flora, fauna, rocks, minerals, and atmosphere that make up a single ecological system, often spanning a large area. Natural environments often overlap and compete with both each other and with human-built environments, such as cities, manufacturing plants, and parks.

Different types of natural environments include oceans, grasslands, tundra, rainforests, and deserts. Each environment has unique soils, climates, water systems, and weather phenomena that are capable of supporting the life forms located in that environment. Natural environments are constantly changing and can be greatly impacted by Earth’s physical and chemical changes. The diversity of natural environment types reflects the rich variety of flora and fauna species on Earth, and the different conditions necessary for them to thrive.

The term ecosystem, meaning a system of living organisms in an area that depends on the proximate non-living resources to survive and reproduce, is often used interchangeably with the term natural environment. While this is correct in some cases, it is important to note that a single natural environment can also contain multiple ecosystems. The oceans are a good example of this, as the flora and fauna that thrives in coastal regions requires very different living conditions than the organisms found in the deep ocean.

Rain forest environments are one type of natural ecosystem. In total, rain forests produce 40 percent of the oxygen on Earth, despite only taking up 6 percent of the Earth’s surface. They are made up of four layers: emergent, upper canopy, understory, and forest floor. While these layers are all part of one environment, the flora and fauna differ from layer to layer.

Rain forests get their name from the fact that they are almost completely self watering. Each tree that reaches the canopy level is able to release about 200 gallons of water into the air per year. This creates a permanent cloud that hangs low over the canopy, helping the forest stay hydrated between periods of rainfall. This creates a fertile environment for plants, with two thirds of the total plant species on Earth growing in the rain forest. In recent years, rain forest environments have been threatened by deforestation, and scientists have warned that further logging in rain forests could have long term negative effects on the Earth’s climate.

Ocean environments are found all over the world, and are the largest natural environment. More than 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by oceans, and they contain a total of 97 percent of our water supply. The world’s oceans support many unique habitats–phytoplankton, kelp, and seaweed thrive at the surface, and tube worms, mussels, and clams live on the deep sea floor thanks to hydrothermal vents that pump minerals from the Earth’s crust into the ocean.

Desert environments can be found on every continent, and can be either very hot and sandy or very cold and icy. While desert environments have a reputation as an inhospitable place to live, about one sixth of Earth’s total human population lives in a desert environment. Deserts are distinguished by the fact that they are likely to regularly lose more moisture through evaporation than they receive through precipitation. Flora and fauna that live in desert environments have found ways to adapt to the harsh living conditions. Plants that may not receive water for several years at a time have adapted by either finding water with their roots deep underground, or by being able to store reserves of water for long periods of time. In hot desert environments, many animals avoid the heat by living a nocturnal lifestyle, only searching for food and water at night.

Grasslands are environments that are formed when an area receives too much precipitation to be classified as a desert, but not enough precipitation to support a forest environment. They are characterized by their most populous form of plant–grass.

The two types of grasslands are tropical and temperate, with tropical grasslands usually falling in the southern hemisphere. Tropical grasslands have both a dry season and a rainy season. Because these tropical environments receive more rain than temperate grasslands, their grasses can grow up to 7 feet tall. Temperate grasslands are characterized by shorter grasses, and have both a growing season and a dormant season. During the dormant season, no grass grows in these environments due to cold temperatures.

Tundra environments can be found around the tops of mountains and in the Arctic. Mountain tundra environments are home to sheep, birds, and mountain goats, while the Arctic tundra houses animals like polar bears, caribou, and Arctic foxes. The tundra is one of the most inhospitable environments for plants and animals, with a cold climate, low rainfall, frequent winds, long winters, and short summers. The tundra environment is highly vulnerable to the effects of global warming, as species are being displaced from disappearing Arctic permafrost into tundra environments, disrupting the tundra’s ecological balance.


Environmental Modelling & Software

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  • CiteScore: 9.4CiteScore:
    2020: 9.4
    CiteScore measures the average citations received per peer-reviewed document published in this title. CiteScore values are based on citation counts in a range of four years (e.g. 2017-20) to peer-reviewed documents (articles, reviews, conference papers, data papers and book chapters) published in the same four calendar years, divided by the number of these documents in these same four years (e.g. 2017 – 20): Scopus source data, 2021
  • Impact Factor: 4.807Impact Factor:
    2019: 4.807
    The Impact Factor measures the average number of citations received in a particular year by papers published in the journal during the two preceding years.
    Journal Citation Reports (Clarivate Analytics, 2020)
  • 5-Year Impact Factor: 5.317Five-Year Impact Factor:
    2019: 5.317
    To calculate the five year Impact Factor, citations are counted in 2019 to the previous five years and divided by the source items published in the previous five years.
    Journal Citation Reports (Clarivate Analytics, 2020)
  • Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP): 2.085Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP):
    2020: 2.085
    SNIP measures contextual citation impact by weighting citations based on the total number of citations in a subject field.
  • SCImago Journal Rank (SJR): 1.828SCImago Journal Rank (SJR):
    2020: 1.828
    SJR is a prestige metric based on the idea that not all citations are the same. SJR uses a similar algorithm as the Google page rank it provides a quantitative and a qualitative measure of the journal’s impact.
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Environmental Modelling & Software publishes contributions, in the form of research articles, reviews, introductory overviews, and position papers on advances in the area of environmental modelling and software. Our aim is to improve our capacity to represent, understand, predict or manage the behaviour.

Environmental Modelling & Software publishes contributions, in the form of research articles, reviews, introductory overviews, and position papers on advances in the area of environmental modelling and software. Our aim is to improve our capacity to represent, understand, predict or manage the behaviour of natural environmental systems, including air, water, and land components, at all practical scales, and to communicate those improvements to a wide scientific and professional audience.

It seeks presentation of:
&bull Generic frameworks, techniques and issues which either integrate a range of disciplines and sectors or apply across a range
&bull Model development, model evaluation, process identification and applications in diverse sectors of the environment (as outlined below) provided they reveal insights and contribute to the store of knowledge. Insights can relate to the generality and limitations of the modelling, methods, the model application and/or the systems modelled. Insights should be ones that are generalizable in some way and are likely to be of interest to those studying other systems and, preferably, other system types.
&bull Development and application of environmental software, information and decision support systems
&bull Real-world applications of software technologies - particularly state-of-the-art environmental software able to deal with complex requirements, conflicting user perspectives, and/or evolving data structures. Aspects related to software usability, reliability, verification and validation should be backed up with quantitative results as much as possible. Development and maintenance costs, and adoption and penetration of the software in the target user groups should be addressed. Licensing issues and open source access should be clearly specified.
&bull Issues and methods related to the integrated modeling, assessment and management of environmental systems - including relevant policy and institutional analysis, public participation principles and methods, decision making methods, model integration, quality assurance and evaluation of models, data and procedures.

Authors must specify clearly the objectives of their models and/or software, and report on the essential steps that were used in their development, normally including the rationale for the type of approach selected and substantial testing and evaluation of it - comparisons with alternative approaches and methods are encouraged. The purpose of this specification, evaluation and reporting is to convey the rigour and credibility of the work and therefore its potential to contribute to knowledge acquisition. To this latter end, authors are expected to briefly review and cite the historical progress made for their problem and clearly show how their work adds value to the literature.

Authors are invited to submit relevant contributions in the following areas:
&bull Generic and pervasive frameworks, techniques and issues - including system identification theory and practice, model conception, model integration, model and/or software evaluation, sensitivity and uncertainty assessment, visualization, scale and regionalization issues.
&bull Integrated assessment and management of systems (river basins, regions etc.) for enhancing sustainability outcomes - including linked socioeconomic and biophysical models that may be developed with stakeholders for understanding systems, communication and learning, and improving system outcomes.
&bull Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques and systems, such as knowledge-based systems / expert systems, case-based reasoning systems, data mining, multi-agent systems, Bayesian networks, artificial neural networks, fuzzy logic, or knowledge elicitation and knowledge acquisition methods.
&bull Decision support systems and environmental information systems- implementation and use of environmental data and models to support all phases and aspects of decision making, in particular supporting group and participatory decision making processes. Intelligent Environmental Decision Support Systems can include qualitative, quantitative, mathematical, statistical, AI models and meta-models.
&bull Process-identification of environmental dynamics for instance of surface and subsurface hydrology, limnology, meteorology, geophysics with special respect to the interaction of anthroposphere and biosphere.
&bull GIS, remote sensing and image processing

These methodological developments should be illustrated with applications in the environmental fields, e.g.
&bull Resource management including water, land, biological, transport systems
&bull Pollution of different media such as air, water, soil, noise, radiation, as well as multimedia problems
&bull Global pollution and global climate change
&bull Regional studies of resource consumption and/or nature conservation in open landscapes as well as in urban regions

Environmental Modelling & Software welcomes review articles on the topics above, especially ones that relate to generic modelling and/or software issues, or are cross-disciplinary in their problem treatment.
Potential authors of review articles should contact the Editor-in-Chief to discuss the topic and coverage of their review. The journal has also published several Position Papers on key topics within its aims and scope at http://www.iemss.org/society/index.php/position-papers

Introductory Overviews are designed to provide a concise topic overview that caters to the eclectic readership of EMS. These articles aim to break down barriers to shared understanding and dialogue within multidisciplinary teams, and to make environmental modelling dimensions more accessible to a wider audience. Introductory Overviews include an introduction to the fundamentals of the topic and reference to key literature. Relevant concepts are presented in relatively simple terms, but with the audience assumed to have some basic knowledge of environmental modelling and mathematics. These articles are not intended to be comprehensive reviews but non-technical primers on essential modelling concepts. Introductory Overviews are peer reviewed and are by invitation only ideas for Introductory Overviews can however be canvassed with any of the Editors.


The Final Word

The impact that human activities have on the environment around us is undeniable and more studies are being conducted each year to show the extent of the issue.

Climate change and the many factors that contribute to emissions could lead to catastrophic issues in the future.

More needs to be done to remedy the major environmental issues that affect us today. If this doesn’t happen, the possibility exists that great swathes of the planet will become uninhabitable in the future.

The good news is that many of these issues can be controlled. By making adjustments, humanity can have a direct and positive impact on the environment.

Please feel free to join the conversation in the comments section below or engage your friends in discussion about the environment on social media.


Watch the video: UQx TROPIC101x Marine Ecosystem services overview (January 2023).