About the Journal

Journal of Environmental Quality publishes original research, reviews and analyses, and environmental issue articles that address anthropogenic impacts on water, soil, and the atmosphere and pertain to some aspect of environmental quality in natural and agricultural ecosystems.

Featured Article

Sprinkler System
CO2 and N2O emissions and microbial community structure from fields that include salt-affected soils

Many studies have documented the increase of salinity and sodicity problems in the world, but few have examined the impact of these areas on agriculture's carbon footprint. A recent study in JEQ investigated GHG emissions from productive, transition, and saline/sodic zones immediately after urea application and compared these data with data from areas with no urea treatment. Their findings suggest that N2O–N emissions could be reduced by not applying N to saline/sodic zones. Read more

Browse Articles

Open access

The emergence, trajectory, and impacts of emerging contaminants publications in the Journal of Environmental Quality

  •  20 October 2021

Core Ideas

  • This paper examines the history and impact of emerging contaminants papers published in JEQ.
  • 67 papers published by JEQ are identified as within the umbrella of emerging contaminants.
  • Major categories of papers included hormones, PPCPs, nanoparticles, and novel pesticides.
  • The top 10 most highly cited papers are featured and their impacts on the field discussed.
  • Future opportunities for JEQ to continue to impact this research area are presented.

Open access

Nitrogen mineralization from organic fertilizers and composts: Literature survey and model fitting

  •  19 October 2021

Core Ideas

  •  A total of 113 datasets from peer review articles were compiled for this study.
  •  60–75% of N in feather meal and guano are typically available within 100 d.
  •  30–40% of N are available from poultry manure and its compost after 100 d.
  •  Less than 10% of N in vermicompost and yard waste compost are available after 100 d.
  •  The results help making N management decisions with organic amendments.

The impact of rainfall distribution methods on streamflow throughout multiple elevations in the Rocky Mountains using the APEX model—Price River watershed, Utah

  •  19 October 2021

Core Ideas

  • Rainfall designation methods were evaluated for streamflow simulation in a mountain watershed.
  • Snowmelt simulation in APEX was revised to adjust the timing of snowmelt.
  • APEX performed better with the elevation-based rainfall designation method than other methods.

Free to Read

Fifty years of articles in JEQ on trace elements in the environment and future outlook

  •  18 October 2021

Core Ideas

  • JEQ has been publishing papers on trace elements in the environment for 50 years.
  • JEQ is a premier journal for presenting research on trace elements.
  • Biogeochemistry of trace elements is an important topic for the environment and food safety.
  • Many trace elements occur in the environment at elevated concentrations and pose risks to humans and ecosystems.
  • Remediation and managing trace elements require knowledge on environmental processes and trace element speciation that affect bioavailability.

A sustainable colloidal material with sorption and nutrient‐supply capabilities for in situ groundwater bioremediation

  •  14 October 2021

Core Ideas

  •  Innovative green chemistry can improve the sustainability of in situ bioremediation.
  •  Bone meal–derived hydrochars can increase the availability of hydrocarbons and P.
  •  Bone meal–derived hydrochars are not recalcitrant hence pose little risk to the environment.

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free access

Did the COVID‐19 lockdown in Delhi and Kolkata improve the ambient air quality of the two cities?

Core Ideas

  • Air quality parameters were analyzed during the COVID-19 lockdown and the pre-lockdown period.
  • Daily air quality and meteorological data from National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Program stations in Delhi and Kolkata were used.
  • PM10, PM2.5, and NOx concentrations were significantly higher in 2019 than in 2020.
  • Lockdown significantly reduced ambient PM10, PM2.5, and NOx concentrations.

Nanoparticle Aggregation: Challenges to Understanding Transport and Reactivity in the Environment

Abstract

Unique forms of manufactured nanomaterials, nanoparticles, and their suspensions are rapidly being created by manipulating properties such as shape, size, structure, and chemical composition and through incorporation of surface coatings. Although these properties make nanomaterial development interesting for new applications, they also challenge the ability of colloid science to understand nanoparticle aggregation in the environment and the subsequent effects on nanomaterial transport and reactivity. This review briefly covers aggregation theory focusing on Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeak (DLVO)-based models most commonly used to describe the thermodynamic interactions between two particles in a suspension. A discussion of the challenges to DLVO posed by the properties of nanomaterials follows, along with examples from the literature. Examples from the literature highlighting the importance of aggregation effects on transport and reactivity and risk of nanoparticles in the environment are discussed.

The Role of Phosphorus in the Eutrophication of Receiving Waters: A Review

Abstract

Phosphorus (P) is an essential element for all life forms. It is a mineral nutrient. Orthophosphate is the only form of P that autotrophs can assimilate. Extracellular enzymes hydrolyze organic forms of P to phosphate. Eutrophication is the overenrichment of receiving waters with mineral nutrients. The results are excessive production of autotrophs, especially algae and cyanobacteria. This high productivity leads to high bacterial populations and high respiration rates, leading to hypoxia or anoxia in poorly mixed bottom waters and at night in surface waters during calm, warm conditions. Low dissolved oxygen causes the loss of aquatic animals and release of many materials normally bound to bottom sediments including various forms of P. This release of P reinforces the eutrophication. Excessive concentrations of P is the most common cause of eutrophication in freshwater lakes, reservoirs, streams, and headwaters of estuarine systems. In the ocean, N becomes the key mineral nutrient controlling primary production. Estuaries and continental shelf waters are a transition zone, where excessive P and N create problems. It is best to measure and regulate total P inputs to whole aquatic ecosystems, but for an easy assay it is best to measure total P concentrations, including paniculate P, in surface waters or N/P atomic ratios in phytoplankton.

Characterization of Slow Pyrolysis Biochars: Effects of Feedstocks and Pyrolysis Temperature on Biochar Properties

Abstract

Biochars are increasingly used as soil amendment and for C sequestration in soils. The influence of feedstock differences and pyrolysis temperature on biochar characteristics has been widely studied. However, there is a lack of knowledge about the formation of potentially toxic compounds that remain in the biochars after pyrolysis. We investigated biochars from three feedstocks (wheat straw, poplar wood, and spruce wood) that were slowly pyrolyzed at 400, 460, and 525°C for 5 h (straw) and 10 h (woodchips), respectively. We characterized the biochars’ pH, electrical conductivity, elemental composition (by dry combustion and X-ray fluorescence), surface area (by N2 adsorption), water-extractable major elements, and cation exchange capacity (CEC). We further conducted differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and X-ray diffractometry to obtain information on the biochars’ molecular characteristics and mineralogical composition. We investigated trace metal content, total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) content, and PAH composition in the biochars. The highest salt (4.92 mS cm−1) and ash (12.7%) contents were found in straw-derived biochars. The H/C ratios of biochars with highest treatment temperature (HTT) 525°C were 0.46 to 0.40. Surface areas were low but increased (1.8–56 m2 g−1) with increasing HTT, whereas CEC decreased (162–52 mmolc kg−1) with increasing HTT. The results of DSC and FTIR suggested a loss of labile, aliphatic compounds during pyrolysis and the formation of more recalcitrant, aromatic constituents. X-ray diffractometry patterns indicated a mineralogical restructuring of biochars with increasing HTT. Water-extractable major and trace elements varied considerably with feedstock composition, with trace elements also affected by HTT. Total PAH contents (sum of EPA 16 PAHs) were highly variable with values up to 33.7 mg kg−1; irrespective of feedstock type, the composition of PAHs showed increasing dominance of naphthalene with increasing HTT. The results demonstrate that biochars are highly heterogeneous materials that, depending on feedstock and HTT, may be suitable for soil application by contributing to the nutrient status and adding recalcitrant C to the soil but also potentially pose ecotoxicological challenges.

Open access

Phosphorus Legacy: Overcoming the Effects of Past Management Practices to Mitigate Future Water Quality Impairment

Abstract

The water quality response to implementation of conservation measures across watersheds has been slower and smaller than expected. This has led many to question the efficacy of these measures and to call for stricter land and nutrient management strategies. In many cases, this limited response has been due to the legacies of past management activities, where sinks and stores of P along the land–freshwater continuum mask the effects of reductions in edge-of-field losses of P. Accounting for legacy P along this continuum is important to correctly apportion sources and to develop successful watershed remediation. In this study, we examined the drivers of legacy P at the watershed scale, specifically in relation to the physical cascades and biogeochemical spirals of P along the continuum from soils to rivers and lakes and via surface and subsurface flow pathways. Terrestrial P legacies encompass prior nutrient and land management activities that have built up soil P to levels that exceed crop requirements and modified the connectivity between terrestrial P sources and fluvial transport. River and lake P legacies encompass a range of processes that control retention and remobilization of P, and these are linked to water and sediment residence times. We provide case studies that highlight the major processes and varying timescales across which legacy P continues to contribute P to receiving waters and undermine restoration efforts, and we discuss how these P legacies could be managed in future conservation programs.

Open access

The Urban Forest and Ecosystem Services: Impacts on Urban Water, Heat, and Pollution Cycles at the Tree, Street, and City Scale

Abstract

Many environmental challenges are exacerbated within the urban landscape, such as stormwater runoff and flood risk, chemical and particulate pollution of urban air, soil and water, the urban heat island, and summer heat waves. Urban trees, and the urban forest as a whole, can be managed to have an impact on the urban water, heat, carbon and pollution cycles. However, there is an increasing need for empirical evidence as to the magnitude of the impacts, both beneficial and adverse, that urban trees can provide and the role that climatic region and built landscape circumstance play in modifying those impacts. This special section presents new research that advances our knowledge of the ecological and environmental services provided by the urban forest. The 14 studies included provide a global perspective on the role of trees in towns and cities from five continents. Some studies provide evidence for the cooling benefit of the local microclimate in urban green space with and without trees. Other studies focus solely on the cooling benefit of urban tree transpiration at a mesoscale or on cooling from canopy shade at a street and pedestrian scale. Other studies are concerned with tree species differences in canopy interception of rainfall, water uptake from biofilter systems, and water quality improvements through nutrient uptake from stormwater runoff. Research reported here also considers both the positive and the negative impacts of trees on air quality, through the role of trees in removing air pollutants such as ozone as well as in releasing potentially harmful volatile organic compounds and allergenic particulates. A transdisciplinary framework to support future urban forest research is proposed to better understand and communicate the role of urban trees in urban biogeochemical cycles that are highly disturbed, highly managed, and of paramount importance to human health and well-being.

Core Ideas

  • The urban forest can be managed to impact the urban water, heat, carbon, and pollution cycles.
  • An evidence base is needed for the ecosystem service benefit urban trees can provide.
  • This special section presents 14 studies from five continents on the ecosystem service impact of urban trees.

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