The chemical pollution crisis severely threatens human and environmental health globally. To tackle this challenge the establishment of an overarching international science–policy body has recently been suggested. We strongly support this initiative based on the awareness that humanity has already likely left the safe operating space within planetary boundaries for novel entities including chemical pollution. Immediate action is essential and needs to be informed by sound scientific knowledge and data compiled and critically evaluated by an overarching science–policy interface body. Major challenges for such a body are (i) to foster global knowledge production on exposure, impacts and governance going beyond data-rich regions (e.g., Europe and North America), (ii) to cover the entirety of hazardous chemicals, mixtures and wastes, (iii) to follow a one-health perspective considering the risks posed by chemicals and waste on ecosystem and human health, and (iv) to strive for solution-oriented assessments based on systems thinking. Based on multiple evidence on urgent action on a global scale, we call scientists and practitioners to mobilize their scientific networks and to intensify science–policy interaction with national governments to support the negotiations on the establishment of an intergovernmental body based on scientific knowledge explaining the anticipated benefit for human and environmental health.
Bacteriophages (phages) may be used as an alternative to antibiotic therapy for combating infections caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria. In the last decades, there have been studies concerning the use of phages and antibiotics separately or in combination both in animal models as well as in humans. The phenomenon of phage–antibiotic synergy, in which antibiotics may induce the production of phages by bacterial hosts has been observed. The potential mechanisms of phage and antibiotic synergy was presented in this paper. Studies of a biofilm model showed that a combination of phages with antibiotics may increase removal of bacteria and sequential treatment, consisting of phage administration followed by an antibiotic, was most effective in eliminating biofilms. In vivo studies predominantly show the phenomenon of phage and antibiotic synergy. A few studies also describe antagonism or indifference between phages and antibiotics. Recent papers regarding the application of phages and antibiotics in patients with severe bacterial infections show the effectiveness of simultaneous treatment with both antimicrobials on the clinical outcome.
In this article the main aim was to identify the most influential attributes for optimal conditions for directed energy deposition through the melt pool optimization and monitoring. The main goal is to track the melt pool geometries such as width and depth. The goal of this study is to use an adaptive neural fuzzy inference system (ANFIS) to categorize the various melt pool depth input values. The procedure was optimized using ANFIS based on seven processing factors. Laser power (P), scanning speed (V), melt pool width (W), melt pool length (L), build height (BH), melt pool height (H), and melt pool tilt are the input parameters (I). Skillful prediction might be critical in achieving optimal circumstances throughout the deposition process. According to the findings, laser power has the greatest influence on melt pool depth. The combination of laser power and melt pool width produces the least training error and hence has the greatest impact on melt pool depth. The study, which takes into account many input parameters at the same time, is thought to be the first on a modest scale and will pique everyone's curiosity.
As a lignocellulose biomass, waste conifer brash (waste treetops and branches) from felled afforested peatland sites can be converted to biochar through pyrolysis, thus creating a potentially useful product. Here, we propose that brash from ‘forest-to-bog’ peatland restoration sites through conversion to biochar, could be utilised for nutrient (PO4³⁻-P and NH4⁺-N) removal at such restoration sites, or within the water sector. As a first step, we explore the factors involved in biochar production that will result in high nutrient adsorption efficiency and pyrolysis yield and low production cost (using a Plackett-Burman experimental design (PBD)). Central composite design (CCD) was used for further optimisation of pyrolysis time and temperature as the two most significant factors. Model predictions for an optimised biochar (OB) suggested pyrolysis conditions of 500 °C for 30 min could achieve the highest yield of 34.75 %, the lowest cost of 0.37 £ /kg, and the highest PO4³⁻-P and NH4⁺-N removal of 9.9 % and 65.2 %, respectively. Additionally, the OB morphology, structure and surface chemistry were characterised using different instrumental techniques which showed typical features for a wood-based biochar. While the OB did remove NH4⁺-N from solution (due to the presence of negatively charged functional groups), it did not remove significant amounts of PO4³⁻-P, indeed it leached PO4³⁻-P back into solution. Therefore, an unmodified biochar produced from conifer brash did not fulfil the aim of removing these two key nutrient pollutants for use in improving water quality at restoration sites. To address this challenge, the surface chemistry of the OB could be functionalised to increase its affinity toward both PO4³⁻-P and NH4⁺-N ions.
Adverse outcome pathways (AOPs) and AOP networks are tools for mechanistic presentation of toxicological effects across different levels of biological organization. These tools are used to better understand how chemicals impact human health. In this study, a four-step workflow was used to derive the AOP network of human female reproductive toxicity (HFRT-AOP) from five AOPs available in the AOP-Wiki and ten AOPs obtained from the literature. Standard network analysis identified key events (KEs) that are point of convergence and divergence, upstream and downstream KEs, and bottlenecks across the network. To map di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) to the HFRT-AOP network, we extracted DEHP target genes and proteins from the Comparative Toxicogenomic and the CompTox Chemicals Dashboard databases. Enriched GO terms analysis was used to identify relevant biological processes in the ovary that are DEHP targets, whereas screening of scientific literature was performed manually and automatically using AOP-helpFinder. We combined this information to map DEHP to HFRT-AOP network to provide insight on the KEs and system-level perturbations caused by this endocrine disruptor and the emergent paths. This approach can enable better understanding of the toxic mechanism of DEHP-induced human female reproductive toxicity and reveal potential novel DEHP female reproductive targets for experimental studies.
In the early hours of October 23 rd , 2019, 39 people were found dead in a refrigerated lorry in Grays, Essex, UK. This case attracted media interest across the world; in the 48-h period after the story broke, reporting on this discovery extended to newspapers not just in the UK, but also across Europe. This study uses elements of Critical Stylistics (Jeffries 2010) to analyse and compare first response articles published by European dailies in relation to the event at Grays, to address the nature of this reporting. We found that linguistic choices tend to dramatise what happened, criminalise victims, and even presume the driver’s innocence, with the international criminal network he is presupposed to be part of remaining only speculated on. Though there are attempts to distribute some accountability to governments and policies, as well as structural systemic factors such as war and poverty, responsibility for these factors tends to be diffused, and hence unallocated, this helping ultimately justify draconic law enforcement and border security policies. By highlighting linguistic trends and underlying ideologies which we in turn question, we address the need to tend to the structural causes of such transnational people movement-related crime (i.e. trafficking and smuggling) and shift accountability to governments.
Equations governing the transient- and steady-state regimes of the fractional series RLC circuits containing dissipative and/or generative capacitor and inductor are posed by considering the electric current as a response to electromotive force. Further, fractional RLC circuits are analyzed in the steady-state regime and their energy consumption/production properties are established depending on the angular frequency of electromotive force. Frequency characteristics of the modulus and argument of transfer function, i.e., of circuit’s equivalent admittance, are analyzed through the Bode diagrams for the whole frequency range, as well as for low and high frequencies employing the asymptotic expansions of transfer function modulus and argument.
The paper presents the synthesis of hydrogels via free-radical polymerization, based on Chitosan (CS) grafted with Acrylic acid (AA), using a two-step procedure. Free-radical polymerization has given strong hydrogels with compact structure, dominant elastic behavior, and long linear viscoelastic region. The results of rheological studies have shown that obtained hydrogels have significantly improved mechanical properties in comparison to chitosan hydrogels obtained by other sustainable methods. A step forward in the investigation of the potential application of chitosan hydrogels in wound dressing systems has been made by preparation of the bilayer design by embedding a layer of active compound-loaded alginate beads into the contact surface between two conjoined units of CS/AA hydrogels. Wild garlic (Allium ursinum L.) dried extract was used as an active compound because of its antimicrobial activity and green properties. This system has demonstrated pH-dependent release of extract and higher shear elastic modulus values than ordinary disc gels. A conducted study has given preliminary results for the possible application of bilayer chitosan-based hydrogels in wound dressing systems and represents the first step towards extrapolating the proposed design across other application fields.
The principal aim of this research is to propose a new general sixteenth-order iterative scheme that is applicable to any existing multi-point fourth and eighth-order method based on Newton’s method as the first step. The advantages of the new iterative class are its high efficiency, a simple body structure and a simple general form of the error equation. In order to check the validity of the theoretical results, we employ several chemical engineering applications and academic test problems. The numerical results clearly confirm the theory and show the good numerical/dynamical performance of the new class compared to the recently developed methods of the same order.
Yield prediction models can be divided between data-driven and process-based models (crop growth models). The first category contains many different types of models with parameters learned from the data themselves and where domain knowledge is only used to select the predictors and engineer features. In the second category, models are based upon biophysical principles, whose structure and parameters are derived primarily from domain knowledge. Here we investigate if the integration of the two approaches can be beneficial as it allows to overcome the limitations of the two approaches taken individually - lack of sufficiently large, reliable and orthogonal datasets for data-driven approaches and the need of many inputs for process-based models. The applications of the two categories of models have been reviewed, paying special attention to the cases where the two approaches have been mixed. By analysing the literature we identified three major cases of integration between the two approaches: (1) using crop growth models to engineer features and expand the predictors space, (2) use data-driven approaches to estimate missing inputs for process-based models (3) using data-driven approaches to produce meta-models to reduce computation burden. Finally we propose a methodology based on metamodels and transfer learning to integrate data-driven and process-based approaches.
Increasing species diversity is considered a promising strategy to mitigate the negative impacts of global change on forests. However, the interactions between regional climate conditions and species-mixing effects on climate-growth relationships and drought resistance remain poorly documented. In this study, we investigated the patterns of species-mixing effects over a large gradient of environmental conditions throughout Europe for European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), two species with contrasted ecological traits. We hypothesized that across large geographical scales, the difference of climate-growth relationships and drought resistance between pure and mixed stands would be dependent on regional climate. We used tree ring chronologies derived from 1143 beech and 1164 pine trees sampled in 30 study sites, each composed of one mixed stand of beech and pine and of the two corresponding pure stands located in similar site conditions. For each site and stand, we used Bootstrapped Correlation Coefficients (BCCs) on standardized chronologies and growth reduction during drought years on raw chronologies to analyze the difference in climate-tree growth relationships and resistance to drought between pure and mixed stands. We found consistent large-scale spatial patterns of climate-growth relationships. Those patterns were similar for both species. With the exception of the driest climates where pure and mixed beech stands tended to display differences in growth correlation with the main climatic drivers, the mixing effects on the BCCs were highly variable, resulting in the lack of a coherent response to mixing. No consistent species-mixing effect on drought resistance was found within and across climate zones. On average, mixing had no significant effect on drought resistance for neither species, yet it increased pine resistance in sites with higher climatic water balance in autumn. Also, beech and pine most often differed in the timing of their drought response within similar sites, irrespective of the regional climate, which might increase the temporal stability of growth in mixed compared to pure stands. Our results showed that the impact of species mixing on tree response to climate did not strongly differ between groups of sites with distinct climate characteristics and climate-growth relationships, indicating the interacting influences of species identity, stand characteristics, drought events characteristics as well as local site conditions.
The Obedska Bara Special Nature Reserve is one of the oldest protected areas in the world, also enlisted as an Important Bird Area, Ramsar and UNESCO world heritage site. False indigo bush (Amorpha fruticosa L.) represents an invasive alien species which is significantly deteriorating the biodiversity of the Obedska Bara Special Nature Reserve in Serbia. Mapping of A. fruticosa, using an unmanned aerial vehicle and GIS tools, showed that in meadows, pastures, ponds and wetland areas, A. fruticosa covered 85 ha or 11% of the area. However, coverage was uneven, and the most overgrown areas were some meadows (up to 35%), while flooded areas and areas where human impact is significant, as on pastures, were not so affected (1–3%). The most susceptible parts were forest edges. Active management practices, such as cattle grazing and topsoil tarping, and occasional moving, gave positive effects in A. fruticosa, but also other invasive terrestrial plant species spreading control in the reserve. This has also been confirmed by the UAV survey and mapping, which has proven to be an effective method for A. fruticosa monitoring over large areas.
Tree-ring width (TRW), stable carbon isotope ratio (δ¹³C) and intrinsic water use efficiency (iWUE) data set chronologies were built for the period 1961–2000 for two oak species (pedunculate oak – Quercus robur L. and Turkey oak – Quercus cerris L.) in northwestern Serbia (Vojvodina province). We focused on the response of the two oak species to measured meteorological data (temperature, precipitation and cloud cover), drought events expressed by six meteorological drought indices, and river water level to better understand their drought tolerance and stress and to assess the reliability of the species response to climate and drought indices when using TRW or δ¹³C. Turkey oak exhibited better drought tolerance (and less drought stress) compared to pedunculate oak, as manifested, respectively, by less negative δ¹³C and lower iWUE values. Based on a generalised additive mixed model (GAMM) among the six drought indices studied, the standardised precipitation evapotranspiration index and the standardised precipitation index showed the best fit with both TRW and δ¹³C, while the Palmer drought severity index exerted a strong influence only on TRW. It was thus concluded that δ¹³C responds more strongly and rapidly to climate variations than TRW.
Objectives: Despite the potential link between mental skills and athletic performance, little is done to examine handball players’ present level of mental skills concerning their performance. To begin with, the study has three folded aims; the first one is to examine the factor structure of Bull’s Mental Skills Questionnaire, which was developed in the United Kingdom to measure selected mental skill, of Serbian athlete population. The second aim is to determine gender differences in those mental skills, and the third aim is to determine differences between the playing positions in the mental skills of handball players to create a mental profile of Serbian handball players. Materials and methods: The sample consisted of 170 handball players, aged 14 to 39, who have played handball at the semi-elite, competitive-elite, and successful-elite level. The modified exploratory factor analysis was used to determine the latent dimensions of the Bull’s Mental Skills Questionnaire. For examining gender differences in the manifestation of mental skills Mann–Whitney U test was used. Results: Compared to the original structure of the questionnaire, which singles out seven factors of mental skills (imagery ability, mental preparation, self-confidence, anxiety and worry management, concentration ability, relaxation ability, and motivation), five factors were singled out in the sample of Serbian male and female handball players (anxiety and concentration management—α = 0.74; self-confidence—α = 0.75; relaxation ability—α = 0.66; mental preparation—α = 0.68, and imagery ability—α = 0.66). With these five subscales as dependent variables, results of the Mann–Whitney U test show that there are significant gender differences in variable anxiety and concentration management (U = 2893.5, p = 0.049) and relaxation ability (U = 2833.0, p = 0.031). Female handball players score higher on anxiety and concentration management and lower on relaxation ability. When playing positions are in question, results of Kruskal–Wallis‘s one-way analysis of variance, i.e., Mann–Whitney’s post hoc analysis, suggest that statistically significant differences were observed between wings and center backs and wings and goalkeepers in the imagery ability. Conclusion: The Bull’s Mental Skills Questionnaire in Serbian sample of handball players show satisfactory psychometric characteristics but has singled out five factors of mental skills compared to the original questionnaire.
In the field of time series data mining, the accuracy of the simple, but very successful nearest neighbor (NN) classifier directly depends on the chosen similarity measure. To improve the efficiency of elastic measures introduced to overcome the shortcomings of Euclidean distance, the Sakoe-Chiba band is usually applied as a constraint. In this paper, we provide a detailed analysis of the influence of the alternative Itakura parallelogram constraint on the accuracy of the NN classifier in combination with four well-known elastic measures, compared to the Sakoe-Chiba constraint and the unconstrained variants of these measures. The findings suggest that, although the Sakoe-Chiba band generally produces better results, for certain types of datasets the Itakura parallelogram represents a better choice.
ABSTRACT BACKGROUND: Clinical judgment of initial baseline laboratory tests plays an important role in triage and preliminary diagnosis among coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients. OBJECTIVES: To determine the differences in laboratory parameters between COVID-19 and COVID-like patients, and between COVID-19 and healthy children. Additionally, to ascertain whether healthy children or patients with COVID-like symptoms would form a better control group. DESIGN AND SETTING: Cross-sectional study at the Institute for Child and Youth Health Care of Vojvodina, Novi Sad, Serbia. METHODS: A retrospective study was conducted on 42 pediatric patients of both sexes with COVID-19. Hematological parameters (white blood cell count, absolute lymphocyte count and platelet count) and biochemical parameters (natremia, kalemia, chloremia, aspartate aminotransferase [AST], alanine aminotransferase [ALT], lactate dehydrogenase [LDH] and C-reactive protein [CRP]) were collected. The first control group was formed by 80 healthy children and the second control group was formed by 55 pediatric patients with COVID-like symptoms. RESULTS: Leukocytosis, lymphopenia, thrombocytosis, elevated systemic inflammatory index and neutrophil-lymphocyte ratio, hyponatremia, hypochloremia and elevated levels of AST, ALT, LDH and CRP were present in COVID patients, in comparison with healthy controls, while in comparison with COVID-like controls only lymphopenia was determined. CONCLUSIONS: The presence of leukocytosis, lymphopenia, thrombocytosis, elevated systemic inflammatory index and neutrophil-lymphocyte ratio, hyponatremia, hypochloremia and elevated levels of AST, ALT, LDH and CRP may help healthcare providers in early identification of COVID-19 patients. Healthy controls were superior to COVID-like controls since they provided better insight into the laboratory characteristics of children with novel betacoronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) infection.
The European Commission has established legislation for toxic metals in certain foodstuffs in order to protect public health already in 1993. After several amendments, new maximum levels for cadmium and lead in certain foods were set as per 30 and 31 August 2021 for lead and cadmium, respectively. The new Serbian Regulation on "maximum levels of certain contaminants in food" is fully harmonised with this European legislation. The concentrations of cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), and arsenic (As) were determined in 832 samples of 39 species of fruits and processed fruits, collected during the period January 2015 to December 2017. Fruits and fruit products originated from 45 countries, including Serbia. Samples were analysed by inductively coupled plasma - optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES). Concentrations of cadmium, lead, mercury, and arsenic in fruits and fruit products were compared to these maximum levels (MLs). Overall, measurable Cd, Pb, Hg, and As were found in 377 samples (45.3%). According to the former regulations, the maximum levels of Cd and Pb for analysed fruits and fruit products were exceeded in only 10 samples (1.20%; n = 832): Cd in 6 and Pb in 4 samples, but according to the latest regulations, the maximum levels of Cd and Pb for fruits were exceeded in 196 of the samples (23.9%; n = 820): Cd in 191 and Pb in 5 samples. The increase of ML exceedances shows that attention needs to be paid for compliance of food to the recent MLs for these metals.
The first step in monitoring and management of any taxa includes resolving taxonomic ambiguities which complicate the identification of its management units. One of the long-standing issues in saproxylic beetle taxonomy includes the case of Morimus asper (Sulzer, 1776) species complex, which comprises several protected taxa. An integrative approach based on multilocus genetic markers and geometric morphometric assessment of phenotypic characters was applied on Serbian populations of M. asper complex members and compared to published data to determine the existence of separate conservation units. The results indicate the existence of at least two evolutionarily and demographically distinct groups within M. asper complex on the Balkan Peninsula. We discuss the discordance between delimitation based on traditional morphological characters and the one rooted in novel genetic and geometric morphometric data. Implications for insect conservation With the emphasis on dead wood protection and regulation in forest ecosystems suffering from intense commercial exploitation, distinct lineages within M. asper taxonomic complex on the Balkan Peninsula should still be protected in the same manner for now, until the key missing points necessary for the improvement of the complex management are addressed in the future studies.
This research aimed to introduce and validate a new self-report measure of organizational communication related to early stages of employee-driven innovation – the Employee Innovation Potential Scale (EIPS). Exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis were performed consecutively on two samples of employees from Serbian companies ( N = 723). The final form of the EIPS comprises 25 items and measures four factors: insight into company problems and their causes, company values employees' ideas, idea communication, and interest in company improvements. Employees who shared more ideas had higher scores on all four factors compared to employees who did not share any ideas or just a few, which confirmed factors’ criterion validity. Moreover, employees who shared more global and radical ideas had higher scores on the first two factors. The results supported the four-factor solution of EIPS and its criterion validity.
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