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Wastewater Treatment Plants as Chemical Observatories to Forecast Ecological and Human Health Risks of Manmade Chemicals

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Thousands of chemicals have been identified as contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), but prioritizing them concerning ecological and human health risks is challenging. We explored the use of sewage treatment plants as chemical observatories to conveniently identify persistent and bioaccumulative

Thousands of chemicals have been identified as contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), but prioritizing them concerning ecological and human health risks is challenging. We explored the use of sewage treatment plants as chemical observatories to conveniently identify persistent and bioaccumulative CECs, including toxic organohalides. Nationally representative samples of sewage sludge (biosolids) were analyzed for 231 CECs, of which 123 were detected. Ten of the top 11 most abundant CECs in biosolids were found to be high-production volume chemicals, eight of which representing priority chemicals, including three flame retardants, three surfactants and two antimicrobials. A comparison of chemicals detected in nationally representative biological specimens from humans and municipal biosolids revealed 70% overlap. This observed co-occurrence of contaminants in both matrices suggests that the analysis of sewage sludge can inform human health risk assessments by providing current information on toxic exposures in human populations and associated body burdens of harmful environmental pollutants.

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2014-01-16

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A Graphical Approach to a Model of a Neuronal Tree With a Variable Diameter

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Tree-like structures are ubiquitous in nature. In particular, neuronal axons and dendrites have tree-like geometries that mediate electrical signaling within and between cells. Electrical activity in neuronal trees is typically modeled using coupled cable equations on multi-compartment representations, where each

Tree-like structures are ubiquitous in nature. In particular, neuronal axons and dendrites have tree-like geometries that mediate electrical signaling within and between cells. Electrical activity in neuronal trees is typically modeled using coupled cable equations on multi-compartment representations, where each compartment represents a small segment of the neuronal membrane. The geometry of each compartment is usually defined as a cylinder or, at best, a surface of revolution based on a linear approximation of the radial change in the neurite. The resulting geometry of the model neuron is coarse, with non-smooth or even discontinuous jumps at the boundaries between compartments. We propose a hyperbolic approximation to model the geometry of neurite compartments, a branched, multi-compartment extension, and a simple graphical approach to calculate steady-state solutions of an associated system of coupled cable equations. A simple case of transient solutions is also briefly discussed.

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2014-07-09

Contribution of Polybrominated Dibenzo-P-Dioxins and Dibenzofurans (PBDD/Fs) to the Toxic Equivalency of Dioxin-Like Compounds in Archived Biosolids From the US EPA's 2001 National Sewage Sludge Survey

Description

The World Health Organization recently proposed the inclusion of brominated congeners in addition to chlorinated congeners when computing the toxic equivalency (TEQ) of dioxin-like compounds (DLCs) in assessments of human health risks. In the present study, 12 polybrominated dibenzo-p-dioxins and

The World Health Organization recently proposed the inclusion of brominated congeners in addition to chlorinated congeners when computing the toxic equivalency (TEQ) of dioxin-like compounds (DLCs) in assessments of human health risks. In the present study, 12 polybrominated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans (PBDD/Fs) were analyzed by gas chromatography/high resolution mass spectrometry in the composited, archived biosolids that were collected in 32 U.S. states and the District of Columbia from 94 wastewater treatment plants by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in its 2001 national sewage sludge survey. Two PBDDs and five PBDFs were detected in the biosolids composites at varying frequencies (40–100%) with a total mean concentration of 10,000 ng/kg dry weight (range: 630–42,800), of which 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-hepta-BDF constituted about 95% by mass. Relative to commercial polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) formulations, the ratio of PBDD/Fs to PBDEs in biosolids was 55-times higher (∼0.002% vs ∼0.11%), which indicates potential PBDE transformation or possibly additional sources of PBDD/Fs in the environment. The TEQ contribution of PBDD/Fs was estimated at 162 ng/kg 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) (range: 15–672), which is equivalent to 75% (range: 12–96%) of the total TEQ in biosolids. The TEQ of DLCs released annually to U.S. soils as a result of the land application of biosolids was estimated at 720 g (range: 530–1600 g). Among all known DLCs determined in biosolids, brominated analogs contributed 370% more TEQ than did chlorinated congeners, which indicates the need to include brominated DLCs in the exposure and risk assessment of land-applied biosolids.

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2014-09-16

Simultaneous Determination of Chlorinated Ethenes and Ethene in Groundwater Using Headspace Solid-Phase Microextraction With Gas Chromatography

Description

Widespread contamination of groundwater by chlorinated ethenes and their biological dechlorination products necessitates the reliable monitoring of liquid matrices; current methods approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) require a minimum of 5 mL of sample volume and cannot

Widespread contamination of groundwater by chlorinated ethenes and their biological dechlorination products necessitates the reliable monitoring of liquid matrices; current methods approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) require a minimum of 5 mL of sample volume and cannot simultaneously detect all transformative products. This paper reports on the simultaneous detection of six chlorinated ethenes and ethene itself, using a liquid sample volume of 1 mL by concentrating the compounds onto an 85-µm carboxen-polydimenthylsiloxane solid-phase microextraction fiber in 5 min and subsequent chromatographic analysis in 9.15 min. Linear increases in signal response were obtained over three orders of magnitude (∼0.05 to ∼50 µM) for simultaneous analysis with coefficient of determination (R2) values of ≥ 0.99. The detection limits of the method (1.3–6 µg/L) were at or below the maximum contaminant levels specified by the EPA. Matrix spike studies with groundwater and mineral medium showed recovery rates between 79–108%. The utility of the method was demonstrated in lab-scale sediment flow-through columns assessing the bioremediation potential of chlorinated ethene-contaminated groundwater. Owing to its low sample volume requirements, good sensitivity and broad target analyte range, the method is suitable for routine compliance monitoring and is particularly attractive for interpreting the bench-scale feasibility studies that are commonly performed during the remedial design stage of groundwater cleanup projects.

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2014-02-01

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Evaluation of Glycol Ether as an Alternative to Perchloroethylene in Dry Cleaning

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Perchloroethylene (PCE) is a highly utilized solvent in the dry cleaning industry because of its cleaning effectiveness and relatively low cost to consumers. According to the 2006 U.S. Census, approximately 28,000 dry cleaning operations used PCE as their principal cleaning

Perchloroethylene (PCE) is a highly utilized solvent in the dry cleaning industry because of its cleaning effectiveness and relatively low cost to consumers. According to the 2006 U.S. Census, approximately 28,000 dry cleaning operations used PCE as their principal cleaning agent. Widespread use of PCE is problematic because of its adverse impacts on human health and environmental quality. As PCE use is curtailed, effective alternatives must be analyzed for their toxicity and impacts to human health and the environment. Potential alternatives to PCE in dry cleaning include dipropylene glycol n-butyl ether (DPnB) and dipropylene glycol tert-butyl ether (DPtB), both promising to pose a relatively smaller risk. To evaluate these two alternatives to PCE, we established and scored performance criteria, including chemical toxicity, employee and customer exposure levels, impacts on the general population, costs of each system, and cleaning efficacy. The scores received for PCE were 5, 5, 3, 5, 3, and 3, respectively, and DPnB and DPtB scored 3, 1, 2, 2, 4, and 4, respectively. An aggregate sum of the performance criteria yielded a favorably low score of “16” for both DPnB and DPtB compared to “24” for PCE. We conclude that DPnB and DPtB are preferable dry cleaning agents, exhibiting reduced human toxicity and a lesser adverse impact on human health and the environment compared to PCE, with comparable capital investments, and moderately higher annual operating costs.

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2014-04-03

Epistemology of Contaminants of Emerging Concern and Literature Meta-Analysis

Description

A meta-analysis was conducted to inform the epistemology, or theory of knowledge, of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs). The CEC terminology acknowledges the existence of harmful environmental agents whose identities, occurrences, hazards, and effects are not sufficiently understood. Here, data

A meta-analysis was conducted to inform the epistemology, or theory of knowledge, of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs). The CEC terminology acknowledges the existence of harmful environmental agents whose identities, occurrences, hazards, and effects are not sufficiently understood. Here, data on publishing activity were analyzed for 12 CECs, revealing a common pattern of emergence, suitable for identifying past years of peak concern and forecasting future ones: dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT; 1972, 2008), trichloroacetic acid (TCAA; 1972, 2009), nitrosodimethylamine (1984), methyl tert-butyl ether (2001), trichloroethylene (2005), perchlorate (2006), 1,4-dioxane (2009), prions (2009), triclocarban (2010), triclosan (2012), nanomaterials (by 2016), and microplastics (2022 ± 4). CECs were found to emerge from obscurity to the height of concern in 14.1 ± 3.6 years, and subside to a new baseline level of concern in 14.5 ± 4.5 years. CECs can emerge more than once (e.g., TCAA, DDT) and the multifactorial process of emergence may be driven by inception of novel scientific methods (e.g., ion chromatography, mass spectrometry and nanometrology), scientific paradigm shifts (discovery of infectious proteins), and the development, marketing and mass consumption of novel products (antimicrobial personal care products, microplastics and nanomaterials). Publishing activity and U.S. regulatory actions were correlated for several CECs investigated.

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2015-01-23

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Effect of Nanoscale Zero-Valent Iron Treatment on Biological Reductive Dechlorination: A Review of Current Understanding and Research Needs

Description

Nanoscale zero-valent iron (nZVI) is a strong nonspecific reducing agent that is used for in situ degradation of chlorinated solvents and other oxidized pollutants. However, there are significant concerns regarding the risks posed by the deliberate release of engineered nanomaterials

Nanoscale zero-valent iron (nZVI) is a strong nonspecific reducing agent that is used for in situ degradation of chlorinated solvents and other oxidized pollutants. However, there are significant concerns regarding the risks posed by the deliberate release of engineered nanomaterials into the environment, which have triggered moratoria, for example, in the United Kingdom. This critical review focuses on the effect of nZVI injection on subsurface microbial communities, which are of interest due to their important role in contaminant attenuation processes. Corrosion of ZVI stimulates dehalorespiring bacteria, due to the production of H2 that can serve as an electron donor for reduction of chlorinated contaminants. Conversely, laboratory studies show that nZVI can be inhibitory to pure bacterial cultures, although toxicity is reduced when nZVI is coated with polyelectrolytes or natural organic matter. The emerging toolkit of molecular biological analyses should enable a more sophisticated assessment of combined nZVI/biostimulation or bioaugmentation approaches. While further research on the consequences of its application for subsurface microbial communities is needed, nZVI continues to hold promise as an innovative technology for in situ remediation of pollutants It is particularly attractive. for the remediation of subsurface environments containing chlorinated ethenes because of its ability to potentially elicit and sustain both physical–chemical and biological removal despite its documented antimicrobial properties.

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2015-06-03

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Reconnaissance of 47 Antibiotics and Associated Microbial Risks in Seafood Sold in the United States

Description

Aquaculture production has nearly tripled in the last two decades, bringing with it a significant increase in the use of antibiotics. Using liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS), the presence of 47 antibiotics was investigated in U.S. purchased shrimp, salmon, catfish,

Aquaculture production has nearly tripled in the last two decades, bringing with it a significant increase in the use of antibiotics. Using liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS), the presence of 47 antibiotics was investigated in U.S. purchased shrimp, salmon, catfish, trout, tilapia, and swai originating from 11 different countries. All samples (n = 27) complied with U.S. FDA regulations and five antibiotics were detected above the limits of detection: oxytetracycline (in wild shrimp, 7.7 ng/g of fresh weight; farmed tilapia, 2.7; farmed salmon, 8.6; farmed trout with spinal deformities, 3.9), 4-epioxytetracycline (farmed salmon, 4.1), sulfadimethoxine (farmed shrimp, 0.3), ormetoprim (farmed salmon, 0.5), and virginiamycin (farmed salmon marketed as antibiotic-free, 5.2). A literature review showed that sub-regulatory levels of antibiotics, as found here, can promote resistance development; publications linking aquaculture to this have increased more than 8-fold from 1991 to 2013. Although this study was limited in size and employed sample pooling, it represents the largest reconnaissance of antibiotics in U.S. seafood to date, providing data on previously unmonitored antibiotics and on farmed trout with spinal deformities. Results indicate low levels of antibiotic residues and general compliance with U.S. regulations. The potential for development of microbial drug resistance was identified as a key concern and research priority.

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2015-01-23

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The Florence Statement on Triclosan and Triclocarban

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The Florence Statement on Triclosan and Triclocarban documents a consensus of more than 200 scientists and medical professionals on the hazards of and lack of demonstrated benefit from common uses of triclosan and triclocarban. These chemicals may be used in

The Florence Statement on Triclosan and Triclocarban documents a consensus of more than 200 scientists and medical professionals on the hazards of and lack of demonstrated benefit from common uses of triclosan and triclocarban. These chemicals may be used in thousands of personal care and consumer products as well as in building materials. Based on extensive peer-reviewed research, this statement concludes that triclosan and triclocarban are environmentally persistent endocrine disruptors that bioaccumulate in and are toxic to aquatic and other organisms. Evidence of other hazards to humans and ecosystems from triclosan and triclocarban is presented along with recommendations intended to prevent future harm from triclosan, triclocarban, and antimicrobial substances with similar properties and effects. Because antimicrobials can have unintended adverse health and environmental impacts, they should only be used when they provide an evidence-based health benefit. Greater transparency is needed in product formulations, and before an antimicrobial is incorporated into a product, the long-term health and ecological impacts should be evaluated.

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2017-06-20

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The Riccati System and a Diffusion-Type Equation

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We discuss a method of constructing solutions of the initial value problem for diffusion-type equations in terms of solutions of certain Riccati and Ermakov-type systems. A nonautonomous Burgers-type equation is also considered. Examples include, but are not limited to the

We discuss a method of constructing solutions of the initial value problem for diffusion-type equations in terms of solutions of certain Riccati and Ermakov-type systems. A nonautonomous Burgers-type equation is also considered. Examples include, but are not limited to the Fokker-Planck equation in physics, the Black-Scholes equation and the Hull-White model in finance.

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2014-05-15