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  • Open access
  • 393 Reads
Toxic organic contaminants in airborne particles responsible for negative health effects

Several studies in literature have highlighted associations between airborne particulate matter and several adverse health outcomes, as a function of particle size.

Traditionally, PM studies have focused on particles less than 10 μm in diameter (PM10) or particles less than 2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5), with each fraction characterized by a distinct source, and different composition and health effects.

Since, diffusion in the alveolar region of smaller particles with an aerodynamic diameter less than 0.1 μm (i.e. 100 nm and therefore also defined as nanoparticles) becomes an effective mechanism and the probability of deposition increases. There is a great debate whether ultrafine fraction (PM0.1) is mainly responsible for negative cardiovascular effects caused by its high oxidative and mutagenic potential.

In the present study, size-fractionated airborne particulate matter was collected from outdoor urban and working environments and analyzed for 105 organic contaminants of different classes: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and their derivatives (nitro-PAH and oxy-PAH); polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and Novel Brominated flame-retardants (N-BFRs) selected for their toxicity and persistence in the environment.

The selected organic contaminants were subsequently divided into three different macro-groups based on chemical and physical properties (PAH/N-PAH/O-PAH; PCB and PBDE/N-BFR) and subjected to statistical analysis.

The monitoring campaigns were carried out in four sites: an urban atmosphere (RM), a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) where aerosol is generated during the different phases of the processes, an intensive livestock farming activity, characterized by sheds serving as a shelter for cows (COW) and an area where feed is stored (FEED).

In each monitoring campaign PM was collected with a multistage low-pressure impactor able to sample 14 size intervals of PM on as many filters, subsequently joined to form three dimensional fractions (coarse, fine and ultrafine).

The results obtained from the organic contaminant analyses and from the Principal Component Analysis (PCA) showed a correlation between sites and classes of pollutants, allowing the identification of characteristic emission sources of each monitored site. Emission source studies are in fact a valuable tool for both identifying the type of emission source characteristic of a specific place and estimating the strength of each contamination source in the same place of interest.

  • Open access
  • 97 Reads
Connecting Public Health disaster with the environment in the context of COVID 19 Pandemic experience from an African perspective

Environment and health are considered global common good because both health and environment makes the world a global community. A global public health disaster like the Covid-19 pandemic automatically reminds us that we are a global community and that no one exists without the other's support. Hence, the deterioration of one part of the world is a threat to the global community. An outbreak of pandemic in one part of the world is also a threat to the global community, for example, SARS, Ebola, and the ongoing COVID 19. Environmental degradation and pandemic breed chaos, violence, anarchy, fear, death, and infections. They make people vulnerable to diseases and death. Environment and health are also linked to global security. The scarcity of resources, especially renewable ones, is a threat to global peace – eco-violence. Health too is linked positively to security and socio-economic development because epidemics and pandemics are not only threats to human health; they also hurt economic and socio-political life. The outbreak of Coronavirus is an excellent example. It causes anxiety, fear, and worry about biosecurity and micro-organisms that can be used as bioweapons. Therefore, there is a connection between health, environment, and security. These three elements connect all human beings directly or indirectly together.

In the recent past, Africa and West Africa have witnessed some epidemics like Ebola and lesser fever that threaten the region and the global community. Health, environment, disease, and the divinity in African are linked together because ill-health is understood from religious and environmental backgrounds. Therefore, the ongoing Covid-19, because of its mode of transmission, is environmentally linked. The presentation discusses: the global health community, the relationship between human beings and nature, and African understating of health.

  • Open access
  • 106 Reads
Beach contamination by marine litter: application of DPSIR (Driver, Pressure, State, Impact, Response) analysis

Marine litter, that is solid materials deliberately or accidentally released into marine and coastal environments, is a growing issue both at local and global scale. In particular, litter accumulation on beaches represents a relevant problem in touristic coastal areas. The DPSIR framework, already applied to tackle other environmental issues, can help in analysing the origin, impact, and possible solution of material stranded on the beach allowing a holistic approach in the “one health” perspective. It was applied in a popular sandy bathing location in the North-Western Tuscany (Italy). Information and data on origin and fate of beach-stranded material as well as existing local strategies were retrieved from a stakeholders’ network. In summer 2020, a monitoring campaign was performed to evaluate the sanitary state of the shoreline and the impact of this material on coastal habitat. In a 7-year period (2014-2020), a mean amount of 1.548,3 tons of beach-stranded material have been collected and treated to separate sand (55%), organic green fraction (31%), and anthropogenic debris (2%), while 12% weight-loss was attributable to evaporation. Analysis of historical environmental data revealed that shoreline accumulation of this material was associated with low atmospheric pressure, medium-strong winds, and storms. Preliminary monitoring data showed that the green fraction was mainly represented by wood and terrestrial plants with little quantity of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica, while most of the anthropogenic debris was rubber and metal. Microbial pollution of beached material was at least one order of magnitude higher than the surrounding environment (sand and seawater) for total coliforms, Escherichia coli, intestinal enterococci, and total fungal load. Overall, our results indicate a potential impact of beach-stranded material in this coastal area, with possible health risk for human population. The instruments already in place for the management of beached material, although consistent, could be further improved.

  • Open access
  • 101 Reads
Evaluating Legionella on long-distance public transports: monitoring data and quantitative microbial risk assessment

Legionella spp. is one of the most important opportunistic pathogens in premise (domestic) plumbing, where can be aerosolized through devices such as showers, faucets, hot tubes, and toilettes. Current environmental surveillance and health risk assessment of Legionella spp. in water distribution systems are carried out in tourist accommodation facilities for seasonal use and in healthcare settings, due to the presence of a susceptible population. Nevertheless, also long-distance public transports can be a scenario for sporadic/epidemic community-acquired Legionellosis, owing to the presence of plumbing and toilet water tanks on board of these vehicles. In this study, L. pneumophila was detected in 217 (54.5%) of 398 samples collected from faucets on board of these vehicles, and the monitoring data were used to estimate health risk, using a quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) framework. The inhaled dose was calculated using the partitioning coefficient approach, so the airborne microbe load was derived from L. pneumophila concentration in water by applying a specific aerosolization ratio for inhalation exposure through faucets. The other exposure parameters (inhalation rate and exposure time) were modelled using probability distribution functions with data according to literature. An exponential dose-response model was used to estimate the health risk of infection (r = 0.06) by inhalation of L. pneumophila serogroup 1 per single event of exposure. At median L. pneumophila concentration of 3.6 x 103 CFU/L, infection risks ranged from 5 to 39 infected/10.000 exposed travellers/1-minute sink use. Legionella infection risk from faucet exposure is poorly considered on public transportations, because of the lack of routine environmental surveillance. Our QMRA results based on monitoring data showed that faucets could represent Legionella sources, so infection risk should be considered to protect the health of travellers.

  • Open access
  • 77 Reads
Gambling behaviour change during the Covid-19 pandemic: public health policies perspectives

Italy faced the covid-19 emergency through the so-called “mitigation” approach (Giarelli & Vicarelli, 2020), having a significant impact on health conditions and people's behaviours, like gambling. Gambling is a growing phenomenon affecting about 36.4% of the Italian population with implications on social relations, economy and public health. Specifically, during the lockdown period, the access to Italian on-site game rooms was reduced (Prime Ministerial Decree of 8/3/20) by limiting game opportunities, except for online ones. This fact led to a change in gambling, highlighting the importance of both online gambling and the development of public prevention measures.

The paper aims to study how environmental variables, such as Covid-19 containment measures, could affect gambling behaviour and whether this may have an impact on public policies.

The study was carried out through a comparative analysis of scientific articles, regulations and statistical data about how gambling change during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Unlike the international context, there are not neither scientific articles nor official data about the development of gambling behaviour during the lockdown in Italy yet, except for a research conducted by CNR’s Institute of Clinical Physiology. Findings show just a little portion of onsite gamblers moved to online gambling offer. However, unofficial data about gambling consumption show opposite results, i.e. it occurred a significant onsite gambling reduction in favour of an increase of online activity. Furthermore, since June data show a growth in gambling behaviour, thus, together with online values, gambling consumption does not seem to be reduced in the first quarter of 2020.

In conclusion, limited official data show gambling is a complex and widespread phenomenon embedded in Italy, which hasn’t suffered a significant decrease despite all the changes occurred. Moreover, the pandemic highlighted the importance of online gambling, which needs to be more considered from public health policies.

  • Open access
  • 149 Reads
Analysis of the risk of contagion by COVID-19 taking into account the social determinants of health in Bogotá between February and August 2020.

This spatial epidemiology study was carried out to evaluate the risk of contracting COVID-19 taking into account the Social Determinants of Health (DSS). The study demonstrated a strong relationship between the data from the model created in the risk analysis and the infections by locality registered during the months of February to August 2020. Kennedy, Bosa and Engativá were the suburbs that presented a higher risk of contagion of COVID-19 compared to the rest of the city.

Although for the study of Bogotá the same variables and weights were considered for the estimation of risk, the study found that no area of ​​the city was excluded from presenting the virus. However, areas where there was a higher risk of contracting the virus depended on the characteristics of the local population, the number of reproduction of the virus by suburbs and the applicable poverty rates. With the results obtained and the model implemented, is possible to verify what was established in the 90s regarding the term Syndemia is verified, due to the synergy between two diseases, in this case COVID-19 and base comorbidities present in the population, added to the Social Determinants of Health, which allow a holistic approach to management and prevention measures against contagion, starting in areas of extreme poverty.

  • Open access
  • 78 Reads
Coliphages as indicators of fecal contamination in wastewater treatment (SCA.Re.S. Project)

Bacteriophages are fecal indicators of viral contamination, because they are more similar to human pathogenic viruses than the traditional fecal indicator bacteria, in terms of log-reduction during wastewater treatment and persistence in the aquatic environment. The aim of this study was to evaluate the presence of bacteriophages and enteric viruses: Enterovirus, Adenovirus, Norovirus, Hepatitis A and E, Rotavirus and Pepper mild mottle virus (PMMoV), in the context of SCA.Re.S. (Evaluation of sanitary risk related to the discharge of wastewater to the ground) project.

The investigation focused on a wastewater treatment plant located in an area fractured by karst in the Salento peninsula (Apulia, Italy). In autumn (September-November) 2019, water samples were monthly collected from three sites (treated wastewater, infiltration trench and monitoring well). The somatic coliphage were analyzed by standardized culture-based methods, according to BS EN ISO 10705-2:2001. Coliphage density was enumerated using plaque assay method on appropriate host bacteria (E. coli Famp) and expressed as plaque forming units PFU/100mL. Nested RT-PCR assay was used for detection of enteric viruses.

The median values of coliphages were 590 PFU/100mL in treated wastewater, 1000 PFU/100mL in infiltration trench while all samples from monitoring well were under the detection limit. All samples were positive for at least one viral pathogen. PMMoV was detected only in monitoring well.

The results confirmed the role of coliphages as indicators of viral contamination. Overall, we observed a gradual reduction in the concentration/occurrence of coliphages and viruses across the karst-fissured soil, until the complete removal in the monitoring well. Different soil properties are probably involved in this phenomenon such as straining, soil pores, microorganism size, and adsorption onto soil particle. Moreover, we can also hypothesize natural degradation over time, phototoxicity or ingestion by multicellular organisms in the soil and/or monitoring well water.

  • Open access
  • 34 Reads
The role of sex and family status on the relationship between exposition to violence and child-to-parent violence

The objective of this study was to analyze the relationship of the exposition to violence and justification of violence with child-to-parent violence (CPV) towards father and mother.

Sample comprised 748 high school students (413 male and 335 female), between 13 and 20 years old. Child-to-Parent Aggression Questionnaire (CPAQ) was employed to assess CPV. Exposition to violence in high school, home, street and television was assessed using the Violence Exposure Questionnaire (VEQ), whereas expostion to violence in videogames was assessed through a questionnaire prepared by the authors. Justification of violence was analyzed using the Justification of Violence subscale of the Irrational Beliefs Scale for Adolescents (ECIA).

Regarding violence towards mother, results showed that, in the case of female participants, there was a significant relationship with exposition to violence at street, home and an inverse relationship with videogames, as well as with violence justification, whereas in the case of male participants there was a significant relationship with the same variables except violence in videogames. Converserly, with regard to violence towards father, there was a significant relationships with violence at home and violence justification in the case of females, as well as with violence at home and street and violence justification in the case of male participants.

With regard to the role of the type of family, in the case of non-divorced families there was a significant relationship with exposition to violence at street, home and an inverse relationship with videogames, as well as with violence justification, whereas in the case of divorced families the only significant variable was violence justification. Finally, with regard to violence towards father, there was a significant relationships with violence at high school, street and home, along with violence justificacion in the case of non-divorced families, as well as violence at street and violence justification in the case of divorced families.

The present study shows the role of participant sex and family status the relationship of exposition to violence and violence justification with CPV violence. These findings indicate the importance of taking into account those variables in preventing violence towards parents.

  • Open access
  • 221 Reads
Management of technostress in teachers as an occupational risk in the context of COVID19

The integration of new technologies in schools and high schools are linked to new problems with the use and management of ITC tools as technostress between teachers. Technostress is associated with several negative effects on workers’ health as anxiety, musculoskeletal disorders, headache, mental and physical fatigue. Due to the worldwide COVID19 pandemic, the majority of schools blocked out, and face to face courses were transformed into online courses in a very short time. In these circumstances, several teachers were forced to increase their skills with ICT technology to accomplish their teaching objectives, and their technological workload was higher than at the beginning of the course. An expert panel was selected following the staticized group methodology to evaluate the technostress of teachers. A validated questionnaire was answered by 11 members from the expert panel selected. Preliminary results pointed out that occupational risks linked to technostress were higher during the pandemic period, especially at the beginning of the crisis. Older teachers showed more vulnerability to the risk, because of a lack of training and adaptation of some of the new tools for online courses, while women showed higher levels of workload demands. Prevention measures as specific training programs for ICT, rational use of ICT, and a more balanced distribution of work and family life at home should be developed to address the problem.

  • Open access
  • 55 Reads
Health state valuation and its socio-economic factors: online samples from the U.S. and Canada

This paper seeks to explore how people value the state of health and what socio-economic factors they might consider. I conducted an online experiment and a survey to elicit individuals’ decisions under hypothetical health states, which vary at three levels: mild, moderate, and severe. The socio-economic factors mainly include payment, personal financial situation, hospital service, support from the family, etc. The subjects were from two separate online pools of the United States and Canada, which have similar socio-economic backgrounds and different health care systems. The main task for the subjects (standard gamble) is a valuation task for a given health state, in which the subjects were required to make decisions on whether to take a risky medical treatment when facing various success probabilities. The cut off success probability is the lowest probability that they are willing to take the risky medical treatment. After this procedure, the subjects filled a survey about what factors they might have considered when making the previous decisions.

This paper presents the following main results: (1) Subjects are sensitive to different levels of health states. When the health state worsens, the participants are willing to accept a risky medical treatment with a lower probability of success. This finding holds for both samples. (2) Between the two countries’ participants, more Canadians choose not to take the risky treatment; furthermore, in those who choose the risky medical treatment under the same health states, the Canadian participants are willing to accept a lower success probability. (3) Among the socio-economic factors that are significant to this health-related decision, several factors are both considered by the participants in two countries: “employer-purchased insurance plans”, “personal financial situations”, “waiting times for treatment”, “hospital services”, and “support from family or friends”. (4) Some factors are only significant in one country’s participants. For the American sample, it is “access to health insurance”, while for the Canadian sample, it is “disturbances in everyday family life”.