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Journal: Journal of hazardous materials


Significant quantities of plastic debris pollute nearly all the world’s ecosystems, where it persists for decades and poses a considerable threat to flora and fauna. Much of the focus has been on the marine environment, with little information on the hazard posed by debris accumulating on beaches and adjacent vegetated areas. Here we investigate the potential for beach debris to disrupt terrestrial species and ecosystems on two remote islands. The significant quantities of debris on the beaches, and throughout the coastal vegetation, create a significant barrier which strawberry hermit crabs (Coenobita perlatus) encounter during their daily activities. Around 61,000 (2.447 crabs/m2) and 508,000 crabs (1.117 crabs/m2) are estimated to become entrapped in debris and die each year on Henderson Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, respectively. Globally, there is an urgent need to establish a clear link between debris interactions and population persistence, as loss of biodiversity contributes to ecosystem degradation. Our findings show accumulating debris on these islands has the potential to seriously impact hermit crab populations. This is important for countless other islands worldwide where crabs and debris overlap, as crabs play a crucial role in the maintenance of tropical ecosystems.


Analysis of a radioactive, coated concrete core from the decommissioned, spent nuclear fuel cooling pond at the Hunterston-A nuclear site (UK) has provided a unique opportunity to study radionuclides within a real-world system. The core, obtained from a dividing wall and sampled at the fill level of the pond, exhibited radioactivity (dominantly (137)Cs and (90)Sr) heterogeneously distributed across both painted faces. Chemical analysis of the core was undertaken using microfocus spectroscopy at Diamond Light Source, UK. Mapping of Sr across the surface coatings using microfocus X-ray fluorescence (μXRF) combined with X-ray absorption spectroscopy showed that Sr was bound to TiO2 particles in the paint layers, suggesting an association between TiO2 and radiostrontium. Stable Sr and Cs sorption experiments using concrete coupons were also undertaken to assess their interactions with the bulk concrete in case of a breach in the coating layers. μXRF and scanning electron microscopy showed that Sr was immobilized by the cement phases, whilst at the elevated experimental concentrations, Cs was associated with clay minerals in the aggregates. This study provides a crucial insight into poorly understood infrastructural contamination in complex systems and is directly applicable to the UK’s nuclear decommissioning efforts.

Concepts: Electron, Spectroscopy, Electromagnetic radiation, Coating, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, Absorption spectroscopy, Nuclear technology, Nuclear decommissioning


The occurrence of sixteen pharmaceutically active compounds in influent and effluent wastewater and in primary, secondary and digested sludge in one-year period has been evaluated. Solid-water partition coefficients (K(d)) were calculated to evaluate the efficiency of removal of these compounds from wastewater by sorption onto sludge. The ecotoxicological risk to aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, due to wastewater discharges to the receiving streams and to the application of digested sludge as fertilizer onto soils, was also evaluated. Twelve of the pharmaceuticals were detected in wastewater at mean concentrations from 0.1 to 32μg/L. All the compounds found in wastewater were also found in sewage sludge, except diclofenac, at mean concentrations from 8.1 to 2206μg/kg dm. Ibuprofen, salicylic acid, gemfibrozil and caffeine were the compounds at the highest concentrations. LogK(d) values were between 1.17 (naproxen) and 3.48 (carbamazepine). The highest ecotoxicological risk in effluent wastewater and digested sludge is due to ibuprofen (risk quotient (RQ): 3.2 and 4.4, respectively), 17α-ethinylestradiol (RQ: 12 and 22, respectively) and 17β-estradiol (RQ: 12 and 359, respectively). Ecotoxicological risk after wastewater discharge and sludge disposal is limited to the presence of 17β-estradiol in digested-sludge amended soil (RQ: 2.7).

Concepts: Water pollution, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, Sewage treatment, Aspirin, Sewage, Wastewater, Sludge, Sewerage


To stabilize the copper and aluminum ions in simulated sludge, a series of sintering processes were conducted to transform Cu/Al precipitation into spinel structure, CuAl(2)O(4). The results indicated that the large amount of salt content in the simulated sludge would hinder the formation of crystalline CuAl(2)O(4) generated from the incorporation of CuO and Al(2)O(3), even after the sintering process at 1200°C. Opposite to the amorphous CuAl(2)O(4), the crystalline CuAl(2)O(4) can be formed in the sintering process at 700-1100°C for 3h with the desalinating procedure. According to the theory of free energy, the experimental data and references, the best formation temperature of CuAl(2)O(4) was determined at 900-1000°C. As the temperature rose to 1200°C, CuAlO(2) was formed with the dissociation of CuAl(2)O(4). The XPS analysis also showed that the binding energy of copper species in the simulated sludge was switched from 933.8eV for Cu(II) to 932.8eV for Cu(I) with the variation of temperature. In this system, the leaching concentration of copper and aluminum ions from sintered simulated sludge was decreased with ascending temperature and reached the lowest level at 1000°C. Furthermore, the descending tendency coincided with the formation tendency of spinel structure and the diminishing of copper oxide.

Concepts: Chemistry, Atom, Aluminium, Nuclear fusion, Solid, Phase transition, Superconductivity, Sintering


Cosolubilization of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (naphthalene and pyrene) has been studied in surfactant systems of varying nature of their head-group viz. nonionic: Brij30 and Brij56, cationic: DDEAB and CTAB and anionic: SDS. Solubilization capacity of micelles was quantified in terms of molar solubilization ratio, the micelle-water partition coefficient, the first stepwise association constant and average number of solubilizate molecules per micelle determined by employing spectrophotometric and tensiometric techniques. Solubilization capacity of all the surfactant systems was generally higher for naphthalene than pyrene and followed the order: nonionics>cationics>anionic surfactant. Solubility of naphthalene decreased during cosolubilization in all surfactant systems studied while the solubility of pyrene decreased only in Brij30 and Brij56 surfactant systems due to competitive solubilization of PAHs for the same solubilization site. The solubility of pyrene, however, enhanced in presence of naphthalene in CTAB, DDEAB and SDS surfactant systems owing to increase in core volume of the micelles by the palisade layer solubilization of naphthalene. The results of this study can provide valuable information on the selection of particular surfactant systems for selective separation of naphthalene and pyrene from their mixture relevant to surfactant enhanced remediation (SER) technology at the contaminated sites.

Concepts: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Benzene, Hydrocarbon, Surfactant, Micelle, Aromaticity, Naphthalene, Pyrene


The present study revealed the effects of fly ash (FA) and phosphoric rock (PR) on stabilization of sewage sludge (SS) after vermicomposting for 60 days. The earthworms in all vermibeds showed significant increases in tissue metal; however, the bioconcentration factors (BCFs) of all investigated metals (except Zn) differed among treatments. Additionally, significant differences were observed in the final system weight and SS+Passivant weight reduction among treatments, but not in the percentage reduction of total system weight and organic matter (OM). pH decreased from the initial levels, eventually reaching neutrality. Significantly greater earthworm heavy metals content, growth and reproduction rates and BCFs were observed, while a decreased percentage of total heavy metals concentration and a proportional decrease of extractable metals (except Cu and Zn) were observed in treatments mixed with FA and PR. Furthermore, significant linear correlations between BCFs and a reduction in percentage concentration of total metals (Cu, Pb, Cd and As) were shown, as well as BCF-Cu and relative proportional changes in extractable Cu. These results indicate that vermicomposting with proportions of FA and PR is better for stabilization and remediation of SS in a short period of time.

Concepts: Time, Mass, Zinc, Sewage, Wastewater, Heavy metal music, Earthworm, Sludge


The treatment of mature landfill leachate by EF-Fere (also called Fered-Fenton) method was carried out in a continuous stirred tank reactor (CSTR) using Ti/RuO(2)-IrO(2)-SnO(2)-TiO(2) mesh anodes and Ti mesh cathodes. The effects of important parameters, including initial pH, inter-electrode gap, H(2)O(2) to Fe(2+) molar ratio, H(2)O(2) dosage and hydraulic retention time, on COD removal were investigated. The results showed that the complete mixing condition was fulfilled in the electrochemical reactor employed in this study and COD removal followed a modified pseudo-first order kinetic model. The COD removal efficiency increased with the decrease of H(2)O(2) to Fe(2+) molar ratio and hydraulic retention time. There existed an optimal inter-electrode gap or H(2)O(2) dosage so that the highest COD removal was achieved. Nearly the same COD removal was obtained at initial pH 3 and 5, but the steady state was quickly achieved at initial pH 3. The organic pollutants in the leachate were analyzed through a gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (GC-MS) system. About 73 organics were detected in the leachate, and 52 of which were completely removed after EF-Fere process.

Concepts: Mass spectrometry, Chromatography, Analytical chemistry, Gas chromatography, Anaerobic digestion, Leachate, Landfill, Chemical reactor


The individual toxicities of Cu and 11 nitroaromatic compounds to Photobacterium phosphoreum were determined. The toxicity was expressed as the concentrations causing a 50% inhibition of bioluminescence after 15min exposure (IC(50)). To evaluate the joint effect between the metal ion and the 11 nitroaromatic compounds, the joint toxicity of Cu and 11 nitroaromatic compounds were measured at different Cu concentrations (0.2IC(50), 0.5IC(50) and 0.8IC(50)), respectively. The result shows that the binary joint effect between Cu and nitroaromatic compounds is mainly simple addition at the low Cu concentration (0.2IC(50)). However, an antagonism effect, 55% and 64%, was observed between Cu and 11 nitroaromatic compounds for Cu at medium and high concentrations (0.5IC(50) and 0.8IC(50)). Quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) analysis was performed to study the joint toxicity for the 11 nitroaromatic compounds. The result shows that the toxicity of nitroaromatic compounds is related to descriptors of Connolly solvent-excluded volume (CSEV) and dipolarity/polarizability (S) at low Cu concentration. On the other hand, the toxicity is related to Connolly accessible area (CAA) at medium and high Cu concentrations. The result indicates that different QSAR models on complex mixtures need to be developed to assess the ecological risk in real environments. Using single toxic data to evaluate the toxic effect of mixtures may result in wrong conclusions.

Concepts: Toxicology, Copper, Chemical compound, Toxicity, Medicinal chemistry, Quantitative structure-activity relationship, Structure-activity relationship, Photobacterium phosphoreum


Although printed circuit boards (PCBs) contain various elements, only the major elements (i.e., those with content levels in wt% or over grade) of and precious metals (e.g., Ag, Au, and platinum groups) contained within PCBs can be recycled. To recover other elements from PCBs, the PCBs should be properly disassembled as the first step of the recycling process. The recovery of these other elements would be beneficial for efforts to conserve scarce resources, reuse electric/electronic components (EECs), and eliminate environmental problems. This paper examines the disassembly of EECs from wasted PCBs (WPCBs) and the physical separation of these EECs using a self-designed disassembling apparatus and a 3-step separation process of sieving, magnetic separation, and dense medium separation. The disassembling efficiencies were evaluated by using the ratio of grinding area (E(area)) and the weight ratio of the detached EECs (E(weight)). In the disassembly treatment, these efficiencies were improved with an increase of grinder speed and grinder height. 97.7% (E(area)) and 98% (E(weight)) could be accomplished ultimately by 3 repetitive treatments at a grinder speed of 5500rpm and a grinder height of 1.5mm. Through a series of physical separations, most groups of the EECs (except for the diode, transistor, and IC chip groups) could be sorted at a relatively high separation efficiency of about 75% or more. To evaluate the separation efficiency with regard to the elemental composition, the distribution ratio (R(dis)) and the concentration ratio (R(conc)) were used. 15 elements could be separated with the highest R(dis) and R(conc) in the same separated division. This result implies that the recyclability of the elements is highly feasible, even though the initial content in EECs is lower than several tens of mg/kg.

Concepts: Ratio, Integrated circuit, Recycling, Printed circuit board, Breadboard, Electronic component, Multi-Chip Module, Ratio distribution


The present study investigated whether proteome pattern of an oyster Crassostrea hongkongensis could be used as a diagnostic tool for contamination and toxicity of metals/metalloids in a real multiple metal-contaminated estuary. We collected oysters along a pollution gradient from highly contaminated to relatively clean sites. The oysters showed distinct contamination gradients of Cu, Zn and Cd. Proteomic analysis of the oyster gills as one of major metal targets identified a proteome pattern composed of 13 commonly altered proteins in the contaminated oysters. The discovered proteome pattern completely segregated the contaminated from the clean individuals, and the pattern achieved clear classification of the oysters with different contamination levels. Importantly, the integrated changes of gill proteome were linearly related to the integrated contamination of the metal mixtures present in oyster tissues. It is suggested that proteome pattern is a promising diagnostic tool for metal pollution assessment in environmental monitoring programs.

Concepts: Protein, Proteomics, Proteome, Pacific oyster, Ostreidae, Eastern oyster, Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay