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2022 ◽  
Vol 22 (1) ◽  
pp. 561-575
Jiaxing Sun ◽  
Zhe Wang ◽  
Wei Zhou ◽  
Conghui Xie ◽  
Cheng Wu ◽  

Abstract. Atmospheric aerosols play an important role in the radiation balance of the earth–atmosphere system. However, our knowledge of the long-term changes in equivalent black carbon (eBC) and aerosol optical properties in China is very limited. Here we analyze the 9-year measurements of eBC and aerosol optical properties from 2012 to 2020 in Beijing, China. Our results showed large reductions in eBC by 71 % from 6.25 ± 5.73 µg m−3 in 2012 to 1.80 ± 1.54 µg m−3 in 2020 and 47 % decreases in the light extinction coefficient (bext, λ = 630 nm) of fine particles due to the Clean Air Action Plan that was implemented in 2013. The seasonal and diurnal variations of eBC illustrated the most significant reductions in the fall and at nighttime, respectively. ΔeBC / ΔCO also showed an annual decrease from ∼ 7 to 4 ng m−3 ppbv−1 and presented strong seasonal variations with high values in spring and fall, indicating that primary emissions in Beijing have changed significantly. As a response to the Clean Air Action Plan, single-scattering albedo (SSA) showed a considerable increase from 0.79 ± 0.11 to 0.88 ± 0.06, and mass extinction efficiency (MEE) increased from 3.2 to 3.8 m2 g−1. These results highlight the increasing importance of scattering aerosols in radiative forcing and a future challenge in visibility improvement due to enhanced MEE. Brown carbon (BrC) showed similar changes and seasonal variations to eBC during 2018–2020. However, we found a large increase of secondary BrC in the total BrC in most seasons, particularly in summer with the contribution up to 50 %, demonstrating an enhanced role of secondary formation in BrC in recent years. The long-term changes in eBC and BrC have also affected the radiative forcing effect. The direct radiative forcing (ΔFR) of BC decreased by 67 % from +3.36 W m−2 in 2012 to +1.09 W m−2 in 2020, and that of BrC decreased from +0.30 to +0.17 W m−2 during 2018–2020. Such changes might have important implications for affecting aerosol–boundary layer interactions and the improvement of future air quality.

2022 ◽  
Foteini Petrakli ◽  
Anastasia Gkika ◽  
Anestis Vlysidis ◽  
Panagiotis Karayannis ◽  
Elias Koumoulos

Abstract Innovative nanocomposite materials and resultant additive manufacturing products are necessary to be assessed for their carbon footprint towards top priorities of EU for plastics, including the European Green Deal principles and the Action Plan for Circular Economy. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is widely applied standardized methodology that aims to study potential environmental impacts of novel products. Nano-scale materials (NM) are usually dispersed in polymer to enhance their limited functional properties resulting in a spectrum of end-products for multiple applications. However, little information exists on their environmental impact. Within this context, this study presents a ‘cradle-to-gate plus end-of-life’ LCA approach, studying different types of 3D printing nanocomposite filaments across the supply chain. Three different types of polymer matrixes were examined: polyamide (PA), polypropylene (PP) and polylactic acid (PLA), additivated with three different types of nanomaterial additives: multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), graphene oxide (GO) forms and graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs), considering lab-scale production. In addition, several different EoL scenarios have been examined for the materials. Finally, LCA findings are coupled with the performance (taken here as conductivity) of these new materials to assist the decision-making process for selecting efficient scenarios with the least environmental impact. The outputs of this examination enable identification of potential sustainability issues for novel nanocomposite materials at an early design stage, while also assisting in the definition of actions to mitigate such issues. Thus, LCA studies can generate knowledge on the environmental impacts of nano-enabled materials, while also serving as a valuable decision support tool towards optimizing material sustainability aspects.

2022 ◽  
Vol 14 (2) ◽  
pp. 824
Roland Franz ◽  
Frank Welle

The European strategy for plastics, as part of the EU’s circular economy action plan, should support the reduction in plastic waste. One key element in this action plan is the improvement of the economics and quality of recycled plastics. In addition, an important goal is that by 2030, all plastics packaging placed on the EU market must either be reusable or can be recycled in a cost-effective manner. This means that, at the end, a closed-loop recycling of food packaging materials should be established. However, the use of recyclates must not result in less severe preventive consumer protection of food packaging materials. This may lead to a conservative evaluation of authorities on post-consumer recyclates in food packaging applications. On the other hand, over-conservatism might over-protect the consumer and generate insurmountable barriers to the application of post-consumer recyclates for food packaging and, hence, counteract the targets of circular economy. The objective of this review is to provide an insight into the evaluation of post-consumer recyclates applied in direct contact to food. Safety assessment criteria as developed by the European Food Safety Authority EFSA will be presented, explained, and critically discussed.

2022 ◽  
Shuhuan Wen ◽  
Zhixin Ji ◽  
Ahmad B. Rad ◽  
Zhengzheng Guo

Abstract The problem of exploration in unknown environments is still a great challenge for autonomous mobile robots due to the lack of a priori knowledge. Active Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) is an effective method to realize obstacle avoidance and autonomous navigation. Traditional Active SLAM is usually complex to model and difficult to adapt automatically to new operating areas. This paper presents a novel Active SLAM algorithm based on Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL). The Relational Proximal Policy Optimization (RPPO) model with deep separable convolution and data batch processing is used to predict the action strategy and generate the action plan through the acquired environment RGB images, so as to realize the autonomous collision free exploration of the environment. Meanwhile, Gmapping is applied to locate and map the environment. Then, based on Transfer Learning, Active SLAM algorithm is applied to complex unknown environments with various dynamic and static obstacles. Finally, we present several experiments to demonstrate the advantages and feasibility of the proposed Active SLAM algorithm.

ERA Forum ◽  
2022 ◽  
Teresa Quintel

AbstractFinancial information can play a key role in tackling money laundering, terrorist financing and combatting serious crime more generally. Preventing and fighting money laundering and the financing of terrorism were top priorities of the European Union’s (EU) Security Strategy for 2020-2025, which might explain the fast developments regarding legislative measures to further regulate anti-money laundering (AML) and counter terrorism financing (CTF). In May 2020, the European Commission put forward an Action Plan to establish a Union policy on combatting money laundering and shortly afterwards, proposed a new AML Package.Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) play a crucial role in analysing and exchanging information concerning unusual and suspicious transactions, serving as intermediaries between the private sector and law enforcement authorities (LEAs). Such information includes personal data, which is protected under the EU data protection acquis. The latter is constituted of two main laws, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which applies to general processing and the so-called Law Enforcement Directive (LED) that is applicable when competent law enforcement authorities process personal data for law enforcement purposes.This Article argues that the current legal framework on AML and CTF legislation is unclear on the data protection regime that applies to the processing of personal data by FIUs and that the proposed AML Package does little or nothing to clarify this dilemma. In order to contribute to the discussion on the applicable data protection framework for FIUs, the assessment puts forward arguments for and against the application of the LED to such processing, taking into account the relevant legal texts on AML and data protection.

Ivan M. Gryshchenko ◽  
Mykhailo O. Verhun ◽  
Andrii S. Prokhorovskyi

This article attempts to verify the relevance of building a network of energy knowledge hub centres to tackle the priority objective in enhancing energy efficiency and energy saving management in higher education institutions. It is emphasized that the issues of careful and wise use of fuels and energy resources challenge more government efforts, active use of advanced projects to manage energy saving and energy efficiency through the integrated use of different energy sources. The study argues that to identify the potential for energy saving, setting regulatory indicators of energy consumption, determining the key energy saving measures and target objects in the public sector where energy saving programs are planned to be implemented, there is a need to conduct energy surveys with further developing of energy passports for buildings. In the frameworks of this study, the following research methods were used: abstract and logical analysis – to interpret the essence of energy saving concepts for universities; systemic approach – to identify the specifics of energy saving projects implementation in universities; in-depth analysis and synthesis – to forecast the university development priority area of the "Energy efficiency and energy saving"; system, structural, comparative and statistical analyses – to assess the energy consumption in universities; economic and statistical methods – to evaluate the level and the dynamics of the energy sources use before and after the implementation of project activities; graph-based and analytical methods – to facilitate visual representation and schematic presentation of forecasts for further development of energy efficiency and energy saving systems. The study offers a mechanism to shape a network of energy knowledge hub centres to forecast a priority development area of energy efficiency and energy saving programs in higher education institutions along with providing an overview on the process of energy saving based on energy knowledge hub centres by carrying out the following tasks: project identification, scanning, energy audit, implementation of an action plan, and monitoring. It has been verified that to enhance the energy supply system in the university buildings, the following objectives should be attained: using the energy knowledge hub to forecast the university energy efficiency and energy saving programme, implementing an automated individual heating station with weather regulation and installing new radiator heaters.

2022 ◽  
Vol 12 ◽  
Neerja Chowdhary ◽  
Corrado Barbui ◽  
Kaarin J. Anstey ◽  
Miia Kivipelto ◽  
Mariagnese Barbera ◽  

With population ageing worldwide, dementia poses one of the greatest global challenges for health and social care in the 21st century. In 2019, around 55 million people were affected by dementia, with the majority living in low- and middle-income countries. Dementia leads to increased costs for governments, communities, families and individuals. Dementia is overwhelming for the family and caregivers of the person with dementia, who are the cornerstone of care and support systems throughout the world. To assist countries in addressing the global burden of dementia, the World Health Organisation (WHO) developed the Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017–2025. It proposes actions to be taken by governments, civil society, and other global and regional partners across seven action areas, one of which is dementia risk reduction. This paper is based on WHO Guidelines on risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia and presents recommendations on evidence-based, multisectoral interventions for reducing dementia risks, considerations for their implementation and policy actions. These global evidence-informed recommendations were developed by WHO, following a rigorous guideline development methodology and involved a panel of academicians and clinicians with multidisciplinary expertise and representing geographical diversity. The recommendations are considered under three broad headings: lifestyle and behaviour interventions, interventions for physical health conditions and specific interventions. By supporting health and social care professionals, particularly by improving their capacity to provide gender and culturally appropriate interventions to the general population, the risk of developing dementia can be potentially reduced, or its progression delayed.

Олександра В. Ольшанська ◽  
Владислава І. Тимкован

The article attempts to explore the agriculture sustainability issues and its implications for food security in Ukraine. The study discusses a critical importance of agribusiness development for Ukraine's economy. However, it is observed that currently, this sector is facing a serious decline in production. A special emphasis is put that agriculture affects the national food security. In this context, the purpose of this study is to identify negative factors and offer pathways to enhance the agricultural sector productivity. To attain the research objectives, the empirical and theoretical scientific approaches as well as the research methods of observation, analysis and synthesis have been employed. This study also presents a ‘sustainable development’ concept interpretation along with revealing its core structural elements that characterize the contemporary state of agriculture from the three perspectives: economic, social and environmental. Accordingly, insights into each of these three aspects were provided that allowed to evaluate the agricultural performance, to assess a salary range in the industry as well as to examine soil fertility. The research findings have detected some negative trends in the agricultural sector development. In particular, the economic aspect perspective has demonstrated a yield decline and a reduction in livestock as well as a drop in labor productivity in agribusinesses. As it is reported, the social settings are characterized by large fluctuations in the payroll budgets in agricultural enterprises and the shortage in certain food products consumed by Ukrainians against physiologically justified norms of consumption of these products. The environmental aspect shows a decrease in the application of organic and mineral fertilizers which negatively affects the soil fertility. Given the above research outcomes, this study offers an action plan to promote sustainable development, boost productivity and enhance the agricultural industry efficiency.

2022 ◽  
Vol 2022 ◽  
pp. 1-9
Mubarak Al-Mansour ◽  
Sabina Nisar Ahmed ◽  
Muhammad Anwar Khan ◽  
Pedrito Nolasco Martin ◽  
Syed Sameer Aga

Background. Medical education is an unusual field whereby a teacher does not receive formal training to become a teacher and is usually marred by quality and effectiveness in imparting the curriculum. To add to the insult, the additive burden of administrating the implementation of the courses does affect the teaching capabilities of a particular teacher. At the College of Medicine (COM), a rigorous procedure for selecting suitable “course coordinators” is followed as they not only serve as administrators for the curriculum implementation but also serve as the role models for the students and their peers as well. Each course coordinator is an important cogwheel in the curriculum as each one can have a positive impact on the overall quality and success of the program. At COM, twenty-one courses are taught in the curriculum, and the execution of each course is led by the duo of coordinator and co-coordinator. The course coordinator is the one primarily involved in the execution, selection of faculty, ensuring smooth flow and delivery of objectives, finalizing and execution of the exam, and responding to students and faculty’s needs during and after the course execution and is the primary person to suggest an effective action plan based on needs to improve the course for the upcoming academic year. Aim. The aim of our study was to assess whether a good teacher can be an effective course coordinator and what the impact of a good teacher/course coordinator is on student satisfaction levels. Methods. This study is a descriptive cross-sectional study carried out for five academic years from 2013-14 till 2017-18. The sample included both male and female sections of the medical program, and the courses for the study were selected as consecutive sampling techniques. The data was retrieved from the evaluation units’ records for the period of 2013–18. SPSS version 20.0 was used for data analysis. Results. Our data reflects a strong positive correlation between course coordinator, course coordinator as a faculty, overall evaluation of the course, and mean faculty rating. Additionally, a strong positive correlation between the mean evaluation of all domains and overall course evaluation for both preclinical and clinical years of the medicine program was also found. Conclusions. Carefully selected effective teachers as course coordinators do have a positive impact on two domains of the course quality, that is, overall satisfaction and faculty ratings by medical students.

10.2196/25419 ◽  
2022 ◽  
Vol 24 (1) ◽  
pp. e25419
Edmund WJ Lee ◽  
Rachel F McCloud ◽  
Kasisomayajula Viswanath

Despite the proliferation of eHealth interventions, such as web portals, for health information dissemination or the use of mobile apps and wearables for health monitoring, research has shown that underserved groups do not benefit proportionately from these eHealth interventions. This is largely because of usability issues and the lack of attention to the broader structural, physical, and psychosocial barriers to technology adoption and use. The objective of this paper is to draw lessons from a decade of experience in designing different user-centered eHealth interventions (eg, web portals and health apps) to inform future work in leveraging technology to address health disparities. We draw these lessons from a series of interventions from the work we have done over 15 years in the Viswanath laboratory at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, focusing on three projects that used web portals and health apps targeted toward underserved groups. The projects were the following: Click to Connect, which was a community-based eHealth intervention that aimed to improve internet skills and health literacy among underserved groups by providing home access to high-speed internet, computer, and internet training classes, as well as a dedicated health web portal with ongoing technical support; PLANET MassCONECT, which was a knowledge translation project that built capacity among community-based organizations in Boston, Lawrence, and Worcester in Massachusetts to adopt evidence-based health promotion programs; and Smartphone App for Public Health, which was a mobile health research that facilitated both participatory (eg, surveys) and passive data (eg, geolocations and web-browsing behaviors) collection for the purpose of understanding tobacco message exposure in individuals’ built environment. Through our work, we distilled five key principles for researchers aiming to design eHealth interventions for underserved groups. They are as follows: develop a strategic road map to address communication inequalities (ie, a concrete action plan to identify the barriers faced by underserved groups and customize specific solutions to each of them), engage multiple stakeholders from the beginning for the long haul, design with usability—readability and navigability—in mind, build privacy safeguards into eHealth interventions and communicate privacy–utility tradeoffs in simplicity, and strive for an optimal balance between open science aspirations and protection of underserved groups.

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