Research Topic

The Urban Critical Zone

About this Research Topic

The continuous increase of urban sprawl, especially in a context of global change, makes it urgent to promote the sustainability of these areas. Point and diffuse pollution are some of the major threats to urban ecosystems, affecting their ecological functions and posing risks to living organisms, including ...

The continuous increase of urban sprawl, especially in a context of global change, makes it urgent to promote the sustainability of these areas. Point and diffuse pollution are some of the major threats to urban ecosystems, affecting their ecological functions and posing risks to living organisms, including to humans.

Particularly, diffuse pollution (e.g. the transport, deposition and redistribution of contaminants), which is normally characterized by continuous and long-term emission of contaminants below risk levels, is problematic in urban areas. This results in the degradation of the urban critical zone from the atmosphere to soils and organisms. Less attention has however been given to processes favoring the transfer of contaminants between the various compartments of the urban ecosystems as well as to their effects on environment and human health.

In this context, the aim of this Research Topic is to contribute to:
i) The knowledge about the processes associated with contaminants movement, deposition and transformation in the urban critical zone; ii) A deeper understanding about the potential risks to human health, including how human behaviors and urban practices modify the hazards;
iii) Understand the effects of diffuse pollution on urban environmental ecosystem services and functions;
iv) Observe how and why the transfer of contaminants affect differently the urban areas and participate to foster social inequalities related to the environment.

Considering these aims, this Research Topic welcomes manuscripts addressing the following topics:

i) Processes of contaminant transfer in the urban critical zone.
ii) Impacts of pollutants in the urban ecosystem, including on living organisms and humans.
iii) Transfer of contaminants, differentiated social impact on urban areas, environmental (in)justice.
iv) More accurate methods to estimate risks (both ecological and human health) and better understand the complexity of urban ecosystems, including interdisciplinary methods between experimental and social sciences.

We welcome the following Article Types: Original Research, Systematic Reviews, Review, Hypothesis and Theory and Perspective.


Keywords: urban critical zone, diffuse pollution, ecosystem health, human health


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

10 December 2019 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

10 December 2019 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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