About this Research Topic
Due to the development of civilization, the growth of human population, and the rapid technological development from many anthropogenic emission sources, heavy metals are rapidly entering several environmental compartments. Aside from industrial sources, ores and fossil fuels extraction from the Earth’s interior lead to additional heavy metal input into the environment. The increasing consumption of fossil fuels in recent decades has resulted in changes in the composition of the atmosphere and, due to the presence of hazardous materials, has caused acute and chronic adverse health effects to humans and animals, vegetation, and material goods. A number of natural and anthropogenic processes emit toxic elements into the atmosphere that can cause hazard to humans, animals, plants, and the environment as a whole. A large amount of harmful and toxic heavy metals is polluting the air, soils and sediments, rivers and oceans, causing significant environmental damage.
Combustion of fossil fuels, high temperature combustion plants, metal processing industries, traffic etc. are emitting heavy metals into the atmosphere, polluting it, and can be transported over long distances. Heavy metals released from combustion processes are dominating in the finest mode of size-segregated aerosols. From the atmosphere, many heavy metals are deposited on surface soil, and several of them can exist in gaseous phase which are more harmful (Hg, As, Se, Cd, Pb). Additionally, industrial activities such as platting, electronic and robotic component production, vessel construction and others release significant amounts of these elements directly into the aquatic environment. Heavy metals interact in the earth-water-sediment system by adsorbing on soil particles and sediments, and binding to organic matter and carbonate chemical forms. From these forms under adverse eco-chemical conditions, such as pH lowering, altering the reducing-oxidizing conditions of the environment, etc. they return to soluble forms and become bioavailable to plants, therefore entering the food chain.
Since the majority of human populations live or develop their anthropogenic activities near coastal and riverine areas, the aquatic environments acquire a special importance in terms of ecological impacts of heavy metals into the ecosystem, trophic webs and human health, due to marine products consumption.
This Research Topic aims to bring together experts in heavy metals pollution research in different abiotic compartments (atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere) as well as their influence the biosphere and its components and impacts on ecosystem health and services.
In this Research Topic we welcome manuscripts focusing on, but not limited to, the following themes:
- Anthropogenic and natural emission sources of heavy metals;
- Heavy metals in environmental compartments;
- Interaction of heavy metals in earth-water-sediment systems;
- Nano technologies and new forms of heavy metals introduction into the environment; and
- Threat of new chemical forms of heavy metals to all biotic compartments.
Keywords: Heavy metals emission sources, interactions in the environment, new chemical forms, novel threat of heavy metals, heavy metals removal
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.