Environmental context. We are entering an epoch – the Anthropocene – in which human activity is changing the face of the planet. To stabilise climate, we may consider deliberate intervention into Earth’s systems, on a global scale. Responsible stewardship requires that we develop a safe, economic and environmentally acceptable means of sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere.
Volume 13 Number 5 2016
EN15170Mass dependent processes can generate an isotope anomaly: the effect of ordinary diffusion on Δ17O in solids
Environmental context. The nitrate oxygen isotope anomaly has been suggested as a tool for quantifying the atmospheric input of this essential nutrient to terrestrial environments. However, it is calculated that the most important transport process in minerals, diffusion, may also be responsible for measurable anomalies. The signal in Chilean nitrate minerals could be associated with diffusion during crystal growth so the belief that the nitrate is of atmospheric origin is therefore questioned.
EN15192Integrated 1H NMR-based metabolomics analysis of earthworm responses to sub-lethal Pb exposure
Heavy metals are non-degradable and are therefore a severe and persistent environmental menace. The toxic effects of Pb were investigated using NMR to determine the metabolic changes in earthworms exposed to Pb. The approach using 1H NMR to analyse earthworm metabolomics demonstrated great potential as a reliable, rapid and convenient tool to assess the toxicity of heavy metals and could be used to identify warning signs of heavy metal contamination of soil.
EN15065Characterisation of suspended particulate matter in the Rhone River: insights into analogue selection
Environmental context. The fate and behaviour of pollutants such as pesticides, metals and nanoparticles in natural waters will influence their effects on the environment and human health. Owing to the complexity of natural waters and suspended particulate matter (SPM) that can interact with pollutants, as well as low pollutant concentrations, determination of pollutant fate and transport is non-trivial. Herein, we report a characterisation of the Rhone River chemistry to provide insight into selecting SPM analogues for experimental and modelling approaches.
EN15091Organic sulfur and organic matter redox processes contribute to electron flow in anoxic incubations of peat
Environmental context. The extent to which organic matter decomposition generates carbon dioxide or methane in anaerobic ecosystems is determined by the presence or absence of particular electron acceptors. Evaluating carbon dioxide and methane production in anaerobic incubation of peat, we found that organic matter predominated as an electron acceptor over considered inorganic electron acceptors. We also observed changes in organic sulfur speciation suggesting a contribution of organic sulfur species to the electron-accepting capacity of organic matter.
EN15217Spatiotemporal redox dynamics in a freshwater lake sediment under alternating oxygen availabilities: combined analyses of dissolved and particulate electron acceptors
Environmental context. At sediment surfaces, the availability of oxygen is controlled by its downward transport from the water surface and its consumption in microbial metabolism. Microorganisms can also consume substances other than oxygen to dispose of the surplus charge that is generated during microbial metabolism. We investigate the complex dynamics of these other substances when the oxygen availability fluctuates, and thereby contribute to the mechanistic understanding of oxygen-consuming processes in aquatic environments.
Environmental context. Goethite, commonly found in soils, is often partially substituted by Al and strongly influences the mobility of arsenic in the environment. The adsorption of AsV onto goethites with increasing Al substitution was explored, finding that Al incorporation decreases AsV sorption per gram of adsorbent, and that a low level of Al incorporation enhances the adsorption per unit area. Structures of the complexes formed between AsV and the oxy(hydr)oxide surface, at different pH values, are proposed by studying the changes in the surface charges of the adsorbed and non-adsorbed substituted and non-substituted goethites.
EN16027Tissue-specific uptake of the benzodiazepine oxazepam in adult Eurasian perch (Perca fluviatilis)
Environmental context. Although pharmaceuticals are found in wild fish, there is no consensus as to which fish tissue to use when measuring the pharmaceutical concentrations. Using the psychiatric pharmaceutical oxazepam in Eurasian perch as an example, we found that oxazepam was distributed in the perch tissues in the following order of concentration: muscle < liver = brain < blood plasma. These results help to interpret and compare previous studies, and provide guidance for future studies.
EN16001Biochar amendment altered the molecular-level composition of native soil organic matter in a temperate forest soil
Environmental context. Biochar amendment in soil can sequester carbon but may also stimulate microbial activity, potentially enhancing soil organic matter degradation. We incubated biochar in a temperate forest soil and characterised the soil organic matter composition using molecular-level biomarker and nuclear magnetic resonance techniques. Biochar amendment altered the native soil organic matter composition and decreased the concentration of easily degradable soil organic matter components.
EN16056An integrated study of the chemical composition of Antarctic aerosol to investigate natural and anthropogenic sources
Environmental context. Owing to its remoteness, Antarctica is an excellent natural laboratory for conducting studies on the behavior of marine aerosols and for monitoring the impact of global human activities. The aim of this study is to provide an extensive chemical characterization of Antarctic aerosol and to investigate its sources. A distinction among anthropogenic, crustal, and biogenic sources was defined using several chemical markers.
EN16005Proteins are a major component of dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) leached from terrestrially aged Eucalyptus camaldulensis leaves
Environmental context. Dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) often constitutes the largest portion of the dissolved nitrogen pool, yet is a commonly overlooked nutrient source in aquatic systems. Terrestrially aged Eucalyptus camaldulensis, a common Australian lowland leaf-litter species, rapidly released proteinaceous DON during the first 24 h of leaching. The results indicate that terrestrial leaf litter may play an important role in satisfying nutrient demand within aquatic systems through both direct deposition and floodplain interactions.
EN15230Molecular composition of urban organic aerosols on clear and hazy days in Beijing: a comparative study using FT-ICR MS
Environmental context. China has been experiencing severe particulate pollution and frequent haze episodes in recent years. We compare the molecular composition of urban organic aerosols on clear and hazy days in Beijing by high-resolution mass spectrometry. The comparative study shows that oxidation, sulfation and nitrification processes actively involve precursors of anthropogenic origin in the Beijing polluted urban atmosphere.
EN16046Comparative evaluation of iron leach from different sources of fly ash under atmospherically relevant conditions
Environmental context. Iron, a limiting nutrient of plankton in the ocean, is deposited to the sea from atmospheric aerosols. In particular, atmospheric acidic conditions promote dissolution of iron from fly ash, a by-product of coal-fired power plants. Here, we report that the iron leached from fly ash depends on its source region, and that the type of combustion process may influence the iron species mobilized.
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EN16080Theoretical study of the hydrolysis of HOSO+NO2 as a source of atmospheric HONO: effects of H2O or NH3
Environmental context. Nitrous acid (HONO) has long been recognized as an important atmospheric pollutant, with the reaction of HOSO + NO2 being a source of HONO. We explore the effects of an additional water or ammonia molecule on this reaction. Calculations show that the ammonia molecule has a more effective role than the water molecule in assisting the reaction.
Environmental context. Antimony is a toxic metalloid that is used in a wide range of modern technology applications and in medical treatments. The accelerating needs for antimony in various industrial applications has led to concerns about increased human and environmental exposure. This review provides a brief summary of the biological properties of antimony and its mechanisms of actions in cells.
Environmental context. The fate of nanomaterials in the environment is related to their colloidal stability. Although numerous studies have examined their homoagglomeration, their low concentration and the presence of high concentrations of natural particles implies that heteroagglomeration rather than homoagglomeration is likely to occur under natural conditions. In this paper, two state-of-the art analytical techniques were used to identify the conditions under which nanosilver was most likely to form heteroagglomerates in natural waters.
Environmental context. Increasing commercial use of antimony is raising its environmental presence and thus possible effects on humans and ecosystems. An important uncertainty is the risk that exposure poses for biological systems. The present work explores the similarity in response of human epidermal keratinocytes, a known target cell type, to antimony and arsenic, where deleterious consequences of exposure to the latter are better known.
EN16029Role of microbial reducing activity in antimony and arsenic release from an unpolluted wetland soil: a lab scale study using sodium azide as a microbial inhibiting agent
Environmental context. Antimony and arsenic are toxic elements occurring naturally in the environment. We found that arsenic release to water from an unpolluted wetland soil is related to microbial reducing activity only, whereas antimony can still be released when this activity is inhibited, suggesting the involvement of additional processes. The findings show that microbial/non-microbial mechanisms control arsenic and antimony release and can thereby impact water quality at wetland outlets.
Environmental context. Carbon and nitrogen isotopes in terrestrial organic matter are widely used for reconstructing past environments, but organic matter is exposed to degradation as soon as it is deposited during what is called early diagenesis. This study explores the effects of this process on organic carbon and nitrogen isotopes, and concludes that it homogenises an environmental signal by integrating all their components. Thus, early diagenesis may not preclude paleoenvironmental reconstructions.
EN16039PEST-ORCHESTRA, a tool for optimising advanced ion-binding model parameters: derivation of NICA-Donnan model parameters for humic substances reactivity
Environmental context. The environmental behaviour of trace metals in soils and waters largely depends on the chemical form (speciation) of the metals. Speciation software programs combining models for the binding of metals to soil and sediment constituents are powerful tools in environmental risk assessment. This paper describes a new combination of speciation software with a fitting program to optimise geochemical model parameters that describes proton and metal binding to humic substances.
Environmental context. Cerium compounds belong among low- or moderate-toxicity substances. One of the best ways to prevent cerium toxicity is its fixation on phyllosilicates. This paper shows the different mechanisms of CeIII and CeIV uptake on vermiculite in neutral and acid aqueous solutions. The uptake of Ce IV on vermiculite by poorly extractable complexes seems to be a very effective way to capture cerium, especially from acidic aqueous solutions.
Environmental context. Eutrophication caused by excessive inputs of phosphorus is a prevalent global environmental problem. Reactive phosphorus released from sediments was measured by two new in situ passive sampling techniques capable of high-resolution measurements of phosphorus concentration. The methods provide the scientific evidence for solving the problems associated with deteriorating surface water quality.
EN16038Insights into natural organic matter and pesticide characterisation and distribution in the Rhone River
Environmental context. Natural organic matter (NOM) present in natural surface waters is a known transport vector for environmental pollutants (e.g. pesticides, metals, nanoparticles), with both NOM concentration and composition influencing pollutant fate. Assessment of these NOM–pollutant interactions is crucial and thorough NOM characterisation of natural surface waters is thus warranted, accounting for spatial variation along the water source. The present work reports on the characterisation of Rhone River NOM molecular weight, polarity and composition, as well as distributions of various pesticides and metabolites along the river using different analytical techniques.
Environmental context. Scientific knowledge is continuously built up based on research results, and relies on their efficient and accurate dissemination. Using antimony as an example, a system is proposed that combines ease of access with focussed reviews while keeping track of all published work. This system, termed BUKI (Building Up Knowledge Initiative) is a collaborative approach based on the combination of a web-based platform and the elaboration of systematic reviews.
EN16028Analysis of antimony species – lessons learnt from more than two decades of environmental research
Environmental context. The environmental behaviour and toxicological effects of antimony depend strongly on the specific form of the element, and thus methods have been developed for measuring the various forms of antimony. These methods, applicable to quite clean samples, often fail when applied to more complex environmental samples. We discuss some of the pitfalls in determining environmental antimony forms and the resulting risk of getting the bigger picture wrong regarding antimony pollution.
EN16013Soluble secondary minerals of antimony in Pezinok and Kremnica (Slovakia) and the question of mobility or immobility of antimony in mine waters
Environmental context. Antimony enters the environment from tailings and mines but there are widely divergent statements about its mobility in the environment. This work addresses the question of mobility of Sb by a combination of mineralogical and geochemical studies.
Environmental context. Antimony enters the soil mostly through mining and shooting activities and can thereafter be taken up by plants. In the soil, antimony may undergo several transformations such as biomethylation, leading to the formation of trimethylantimony. Here, we measured for the first time the uptake and translocation of trimethylantimony in a plant using a new extraction and analysis method.
Environmental context. Why does antimony become mobile faster in shooting range soils than in laboratory settings? We used controlled experiments and found that increased salinity and the presence of lead (which occurs with antimony at shooting ranges because they are both used in bullets) accelerate the change of antimony to a form that moves more easily through the watershed. This work helps explain the behaviour of this important pollutant – antimony – in the environment.
These articles have been peer reviewed and accepted for publication. They are still in production and have not been edited, so may differ from the final published form.
Ion Exchange Technique (IET) for measuring Cu2+, Ni2+ and Zn2+ activities in soils contaminated with metal mixtures
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