We quantify the risks of climate-induced changes in key ecosystem processes during the 21st century by forcing a dynamic global vegetation model with multiple scenarios from 16 climate models and mapping the proportions of model runs showing forest/nonforest shifts or exceedance of natural variability in wildfire frequency and freshwater supply. Our analysis does not assign probabilities to scenarios or weights to models. Instead, we consider distribution of outcomes within three sets of model runs grouped by the amount of global warming they simulate: 3 degrees C. High risk of forest loss is shown for Eurasia, eastern China, Canada, Central America, and Amazonia, with forest extensions into the Arctic and semiarid savannas; more frequent wildfire in Amazonia, the far north, and many semiarid regions; more runoff north of 50 degrees N and in tropical Africa and northwestern South America; and less runoff in West Africa, Central America, southern Europe, and the eastern U.S. Substantially larger areas are affected for global warming >3 degrees C than for 3 degrees C this sink converts to a carbon source during the 21st century (implying a positive climate feedback) in 44% of cases. The risks continue increasing over the following 200 years, even with atmospheric composition held constant.
A whole-tree chamber (WTC) system was installed at Flakaliden in northern Sweden to examine the long-term physiological responses of field-grown 40-year-old Norway spruce trees [Picea abies (L.) Karst.] to climate change. The WTCs were designed as large cuvettes to allow the net tree-level CO(2) and water fluxes to be measured on a continuous basis. A total of 12 WTCs were used to impose combinations of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, [CO(2)], and air temperature treatments. The air inside the ambient and elevated [CO(2)] WTCs was maintained at 365 and 700 micromol mol(-1), respectively. The air temperature inside the ambient temperature WTCs tracked air temperature outside the WTCs. Elevated temperatures were altered on a monthly time-step and ranged between +2.8 and +5.6 degrees C above ambient temperature. The system allowed continuous, long-term measurement of whole-tree photosynthesis, night-time respiration and transpiration. The performance of the WTCs was assessed using winter and spring data sets. The ability of the WTC system to measure tree-level physiological responses is demonstrated. All WTCs displayed a high level of control over tracking of air temperatures. The set target of 365 micromol mol(-1) in the ambient [CO(2)] chambers was too low to be maintained during winter because of tree dormancy and the high natural increase in [CO(2)] over winter at high latitudes such as the Flakaliden site. Accurate control over [CO(2)] in the ambient [CO(2)] chambers was restored during the spring and the system maintained the elevated [CO(2)] target of 700 micromol mol(-1) for both measurement periods. Air water vapour deficit (VPD) was accurately tracked in ambient temperature WTCs. However, as water vapour pressure in all 12 WTCs was maintained at the level of non-chambered (reference) air, VPD of elevated temperature WTCs was increased.
The fauna of fish parasites in Lake Baikal is represented by 5 faunistic complexes, namely the boreal plain, boreal submountain, arctic freshwater, Baikal, and Sino-Indian ones. The parasites of the boreal plain complex are dominant by the number of species (43 %). Hypotheses on the origin of the recent fish and parasite faunas of Lake Baikal were advanced on the base of the data on the parasite species composition and their distribution among hosts, as well as on the base of paleontological data. It is shown that invasion of new fish species and their parasites to Baikal led to the change of the composition of natural faunistic fish complexes and parasite systems. Invading fishes play the roles of intermediate and definitive hosts in parasite systems of Baikal, that led to the change of the initial structure of these systems.
Electronic tracking tags have revolutionized our understanding of broad-scale movements and habitat use of highly mobile marine animals, but a large gap in our knowledge still remains for a wide range of small species. Here, we report the extraordinary transequatorial postbreeding migrations of a small seabird, the sooty shearwater, obtained with miniature archival tags that log data for estimating position, dive depth, and ambient temperature. Tracks (262+/-23 days) reveal that shearwaters fly across the entire Pacific Ocean in a figure-eight pattern while traveling 64,037+/-9,779 km roundtrip, the longest animal migration ever recorded electronically. Each shearwater made a prolonged stopover in one of three discrete regions off Japan, Alaska, or California before returning to New Zealand through a relatively narrow corridor in the central Pacific Ocean. Transit rates as high as 910+/-186 km.day-1 were recorded, and shearwaters accessed prey resources in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere's most productive waters from the surface to 68.2 m depth. Our results indicate that sooty shearwaters integrate oceanic resources throughout the Pacific Basin on a yearly scale. Sooty shearwater populations today are declining, and because they operate on a global scale, they may serve as an important indicator of climate change and ocean health.
The pattern of the evolutionary radiation of modern birds (Neornithes) has been debated for more than 10 years. However, the early fossil record of birds from the Paleogene, in particular, the Lower Eocene, has only recently begun to be used in a phylogenetic context to address the dynamics of this major vertebrate radiation. The Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-P) extinction event dominates our understanding of early modern bird evolution, but climate change throughout the Eocene is known to have also played a major role. The Paleocene and Lower Eocene was a time of avian diversification as a result of favourable global climatic conditions. Deteriorations in climate beginning in the Middle Eocene appear to be responsible for the demise of previously widespread avian lineages like Lithornithiformes and Gastornithidae. Other groups, such as Galliformes display replacement of some lineages by others, probably related to adaptations to a drier climate. Finally, the combination of slowly deteriorating climatic conditions from the Middle Eocene onwards, appears to have slowed the evolutionary rate in Europe, as avian faunas did not differentiate markedly until the Oligocene. Taking biotic factors in tandem with the known Paleogene fossil record of Neornithes has recently begun to illuminate this evolutionary event. Well-preserved fossil taxa are required in combination with ever-improving phylogenetic hypotheses for the inter-relationships of modern birds founded on morphological characters. One key avifauna of this age, synthesised for the first time herein, is the Lower Eocene Fur Formation of Denmark. The Fur birds represent some of the best preserved (often in three dimensions and with soft tissues) known fossil records for major clades of modern birds. Clear phylogenetic assessment of these fossils will prove critical for future calibration of the neornithine evolutionary timescale. Some early diverging clades were clearly present in the Paleocene as evidenced directly by new fossil material alongside the phylogenetically constrained Lower Eocene taxa. A later Oligocene radiation of clades other than Passeriformes is not supported by available fossil data.
An ecological significance framework is used to assess the ecological condition of Prince William Sound (PWS), Alaska, USA, in order to address the current management question: 17 y following the Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS), are there any remaining and continuing ecologically significant exposures or effects on the PWS ecosystem caused by EVOS? We examined the extensive scientific literature funded by the Exxon Valdez Trustees or by ExxonMobil to assess exposures and effects from EVOS. Criteria to assess ecological significance include whether a change in a valued ecosystem component (VEC) is sufficient to affect the structure, function, and/or health of the system and whether such a change exceeds natural variability. The EVOS occurred on 24 March 1989, releasing over 250,000 barrels of crude oil into PWS. Because PWS is highly dynamic, the residual oil was largely eliminated in the first few years, and now only widely dispersed, highly weathered, or isolated small pockets of residual contamination remain. Many other sources of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) exist in PWS from past or present human activities or natural oil seeps. Multiple-lines-of-evidence analyses indicate that residual PAHs from EVOS no longer represent an ecologically significant exposure risk to PWS. To assess the ecological significance of any residual effects from EVOS, we examined the literature on more than 20 VECs, including primary producers, filter feeders, fish and bird primary consumers, fish and bird top predators, a bird scavenger, mammalian primary consumers and top predators, biotic communities, ecosystem-level properties of trophodynamics and biogeochemical processes, and landscape-level properties of habitat mosaic and wilderness quality. None of these has any ecologically significant effects that are detectable at present, with the exception of 1 pod of orcas and possibly 1 subpopulation of sea otters; however, in both those cases, PWS-wide populations appear to have fully recovered. Many other stressors continue to affect PWS adversely, including climate and oceanographic variability, increased tourism and shipping, invasive species, the 1964 earthquake, and overexploitation of marine resources, with associated cascading effects on populations of PWS fish and predators. We conclude that the PWS ecosystem has now effectively recovered from EVOS.
BACKGROUND: Improving the design, management and organization of work may be an important step in improving occupational health. An intervention, guided by the principles of participatory action research (PAR), is directed at traditional work environment problems in the epoxy plastic industry, that is, eczema and accident-related injuries. METHODS: The study population consisted of employees at two wind turbine- manufacturing plants. A quasi-experimental design was employed with before and after measurements and a comparison group with a 3(1/2) year follow-up period. RESULTS: The role of employee elected safety representatives was changed from one of controlling and "policing" to that of safety advisors. The attitudes of employees also changed, from an individualistic understanding of safety as the responsibility of the single employee, to a more collective understanding of safety as being everyone's shared responsibility. Structural changes led to a less hierarchical management system. This process led eventually to the establishment of self-governing work groups in which each member had a well-defined area of responsibility. The change process was associated with improvements in the psychosocial work environment and safety climate, a 66% reduction in the incidence of eczema, and a 48.6% reduction in the incidence of occupational accidents. In the comparison population, a twin factory under the same company, similar but delayed and less dramatic changes also occurred. CONCLUSIONS: Implementation of a comprehensive intervention was followed by improved employee perceptions of the company's safety standards and the psychosocial work environment, as well as by substantial reductions in the incidence of eczema and occupational accidents.
Terrestrial Ecology Section, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, DK -2100 Copenhagen E, Denmark; Center for Permafrost (CENPERM), Department of Geoscience and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 10, DK -1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark.
Emissions of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) from terrestrial ecosystems are important for the atmospheric chemistry and the formation of secondary organic aerosols, and may therefore influence the climate. Global warming is predicted to change patterns in precipitation and plant species compositions, especially in arctic regions where the temperature increase will be most pronounced. These changes are potentially highly important for the BVOC emissions but studies investigating the effects are lacking. The aim of this study was to investigate the quality and quantity of BVOC emissions from a high arctic soil moisture gradient extending from dry tundra to a wet fen. Ecosystem BVOC emissions were sampled five times in the July-August period using a push-pull enclosure technique, and BVOCs trapped in absorbent cartridges were analyzed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Plant species compositions were estimated using the point intercept method. In order to take into account important underlying ecosystem processes, gross ecosystem production, ecosystem respiration and net ecosystem production were measured in connection with chamber-based BVOC measurements. Highest emissions of BVOCs were found from vegetation communities dominated by Salix arctica and Cassiope tetragona, which had emission profiles dominated by isoprene and monoterpenes, respectively. These results show that emissions of BVOCs are highly dependent on the plant cover supported by the varying soil moisture, suggesting that high arctic BVOC emissions may affect the climate differently if soil water content and plant cover change.
The formation of the North Water in Smith Sound about 4500 years ago, as evidenced by the establishment of bird colonies and human presence, also initiated a long-term anthropogenic agent as part of this High Arctic ecosystem. Different epochs have influenced the human occupation in the area: immigration pulses from Canada and Alaska, trade with meteorite iron throughout the Arctic, introduction of new technologies by whalers and explorers, exploitation of resources by foreigners, political sequestration, export of fox and seal skins and later narwhal products, and recently fishing. Physical drivers in terms of weather and climate affecting the northern hemisphere also impact accessibility and productivity of the ecosystem, with cascading effects on social drivers, again acting back on the natural ecologies. Despite its apparent isolation, the ecosystem had and still has wide ranging spatial ramifications that extend beyond the High Arctic, and include human activity. The challenge is to determine what is internal and what is external to an ecosystem.
Climate change is rapidly reshaping Arctic landscapes through shifts in vegetation cover and productivity, soil resource mobilization, and hydrological regimes. The implications of these changes for stream ecosystems and food webs is unclear and will depend largely on microbial biofilm responses to concurrent shifts in temperature, light, and resource supply from land. To study those responses, we used nutrient diffusing substrates to manipulate resource supply to biofilm communities along regional gradients in stream temperature, riparian shading, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) loading in Arctic Sweden. We found strong nitrogen (N) limitation across this gradient for gross primary production, community respiration and chlorophyll-a accumulation. For unamended biofilms, activity and biomass accrual were not closely related to any single physical or chemical driver across this region. However, the magnitude of biofilm response to N addition was: in tundra streams, biofilm response was constrained by thermal regimes, whereas variation in light availability regulated this response in birch and coniferous forest streams. Furthermore, heterotrophic responses to experimental N addition increased across the region with greater stream water concentrations of DOC relative to inorganic N. Thus, future shifts in resource supply to these ecosystems are likely to interact with other concurrent environmental changes to regulate stream productivity. Indeed, our results suggest that in the absence of increased nutrient inputs, Arctic streams will be less sensitive to future changes in other habitat variables such as temperature and DOC loading.
Sea ice and associated feedback mechanisms play an important role for both long- and short-term climate change. Our ability to predict future sea ice extent, however, hinges on a greater understanding of past sea ice dynamics. Here we investigate sea ice changes in the eastern Bering Sea prior to, across, and after the Mid-Pleistocene transition (MPT). The sea ice record, based on the Arctic sea ice biomarker IP25 and related open water proxies from the International Ocean Discovery Program Site U1343, shows a substantial increase in sea ice extent across the MPT. The occurrence of late-glacial/deglacial sea ice maxima are consistent with sea ice/land ice hysteresis and land-glacier retreat via the temperature-precipitation feedback. We also identify interactions of sea ice with phytoplankton growth and ocean circulation patterns, which have important implications for glacial North Pacific Intermediate Water formation and potentially North Pacific abyssal carbon storage.
Cites: Nature. 2008 Aug 14;454(7206):869-72 PMID 18704083
Animals that occupy temperate and polar regions have specialized traits that help them survive in harsh, highly seasonal environments. One particularly important adaptation is seasonal coat colour (SCC) moulting. Over 20 species of birds and mammals distributed across the northern hemisphere undergo complete, biannual colour change from brown in the summer to completely white in the winter. But as climate change decreases duration of snow cover, seasonally winter white species (including the snowshoe hare Lepus americanus, Arctic fox Vulpes lagopus and willow ptarmigan Lagopus lagopus) become highly contrasted against dark snowless backgrounds. The negative consequences of camouflage mismatch and adaptive potential is of high interest for conservation. Here we provide the first comprehensive review across birds and mammals of the adaptive value and mechanisms underpinning SCC moulting. We found that across species, the main function of SCC moults is seasonal camouflage against snow, and photoperiod is the main driver of the moult phenology. Next, although many underlying mechanisms remain unclear, mammalian species share similarities in some aspects of hair growth, neuroendocrine control, and the effects of intrinsic and extrinsic factors on moult phenology. The underlying basis of SCC moults in birds is less understood and differs from mammals in several aspects. Lastly, our synthesis suggests that due to limited plasticity in SCC moulting, evolutionary adaptation will be necessary to mediate future camouflage mismatch and a detailed understanding of the SCC moulting will be needed to manage populations effectively under climate change.
The Arctic is being disproportionally affected by climate change compared with other geographic locations, and is currently experiencing unprecedented melt rates. The Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) can be regarded as the largest supraglacial ecosystem on Earth, and ice algae are the dominant primary producers on bare ice surfaces throughout the course of a melt season. Ice-algal-derived pigments cause a darkening of the ice surface, which in turn decreases albedo and increases melt rates. The important role of ice algae in changing melt rates has only recently been recognized, and we currently know little about their community compositions and functions. Here, we present the first analysis of ice algal communities across a 100?km transect on the GrIS by high-throughput sequencing and subsequent oligotyping of the most abundant taxa. Our data reveal an extremely low algal diversity with Ancylonema nordenskiöldii and a Mesotaenium species being by far the dominant taxa at all sites. We employed an oligotyping approach and revealed a hidden diversity not detectable by conventional clustering of operational taxonomic units and taxonomic classification. Oligotypes of the dominant taxa exhibit a site-specific distribution, which may be linked to differences in temperatures and subsequently the extent of the melting. Our results help to better understand the distribution patterns of ice algal communities that play a crucial role in the GrIS ecosystem.
Alpine and Arctic species are considered to be particularly vulnerable to climate change, which is expected to cause habitat loss, fragmentation and-ultimately-extinction of cold-adapted species. However, the impact of climate change on glacial relict populations is not well understood, and specific recommendations for adaptive conservation management are lacking. We focused on the mountain hare (Lepus timidus) as a model species and modelled species distribution in combination with patch and landscape-based connectivity metrics. They were derived from graph-theory models to quantify changes in species distribution and to estimate the current and future importance of habitat patches for overall population connectivity. Models were calibrated based on 1,046 locations of species presence distributed across three biogeographic regions in the Swiss Alps and extrapolated according to two IPCC scenarios of climate change (RCP 4.5 & 8.5), each represented by three downscaled global climate models. The models predicted an average habitat loss of 35% (22%-55%) by 2100, mainly due to an increase in temperature during the reproductive season. An increase in habitat fragmentation was reflected in a 43% decrease in patch size, a 17% increase in the number of habitat patches and a 34% increase in inter-patch distance. However, the predicted changes in habitat availability and connectivity varied considerably between biogeographic regions: Whereas the greatest habitat losses with an increase in inter-patch distance were predicted at the southern and northern edges of the species' Alpine distribution, the greatest increase in patch number and decrease in patch size is expected in the central Swiss Alps. Finally, both the number of isolated habitat patches and the number of patches crucial for maintaining the habitat network increased under the different variants of climate change. Focusing conservation action on the central Swiss Alps may help mitigate the predicted effects of climate change on population connectivity.
Both the direct effects of warming on a species' vital rates and indirect effects of warming caused by interactions with neighboring species can influence plant populations. Furthermore, herbivory mediates the effects of warming on plant community composition in many systems. Thus, determining the importance of direct and indirect effects of warming, while considering the role of herbivory, can help predict long-term plant community dynamics. We conducted a field experiment in the coastal wetlands of western Alaska to investigate how warming and herbivory influence the interactions and abundances of two common plant species, a sedge, Carex ramenskii, and a dwarf shrub, Salix ovalifolia. We used results from the experiment to model the equilibrium abundances of the species under different warming and grazing scenarios and to determine the contribution of direct and indirect effects to predict population changes. Consistent with the current composition of the landscape, model predictions suggest that Carex is more abundant than Salix under ambient temperatures with grazing (53% and 27% cover, respectively). However, with warming and grazing, Salix becomes more abundant than Carex (57% and 41% cover, respectively), reflecting both a negative response of Carex and a positive response of Salix to warming. While grazing reduced the cover of both species, herbivory did not prevent a shift in dominance from sedges to the dwarf shrub. Direct effects of climate change explained about 97% of the total predicted change in species cover, whereas indirect effects explained only 3% of the predicted change. Thus, indirect effects, mediated by interactions between Carex and Salix, were negligible, likely due to use of different niches and weak interspecific interactions. Results suggest that a 2°C increase could cause a shift in dominance from sedges to woody plants on the coast of western Alaska over decadal timescales, and this shift was largely a result of the direct effects of warming. Models predict this shift with or without goose herbivory. Our results are consistent with other studies showing an increase in woody plant abundance in the Arctic and suggest that shifts in plant-plant interactions are not driving this change.
Cites: Nat Commun. 2016 Jun 08;7:11766 PMID 27273085
Cites: Nature. 2002 Jun 20;417(6891):844-8 PMID 12075350
Monitoring of forest resources through national forest inventory programmes is carried out in many countries. The expected climate changes will affect trees and forests and might cause an expansion of trees into presently treeless areas, such as above the current alpine tree line. It is therefore a need to develop methods that enable the inclusion of also these areas into monitoring programmes. Airborne laser scanning (ALS) is an established tool in operational forest inventories, and could be a viable option for monitoring tasks. In the present study, we used multi-temporal ALS data with point density of 8-15 points per m2, together with field measurements from single trees in the forest-tundra ecotone along a 1500-km-long transect in Norway. The material comprised 262 small trees with an average height of 1.78 m. The field-measured height growth was derived from height measurements at two points in time. The elapsed time between the two measurements was 4 years. Regression models were then used to model the relationship between ALS-derived variables and tree heights as well as the height growth. Strong relationships between ALS-derived variables and tree heights were found, with R 2 values of 0.93 and 0.97 for the two points in time. The relationship between the ALS data and the field-derived height growth was weaker, with R 2 values of 0.36-0.42. A cross-validation gave corresponding results, with root mean square errors of 19 and 11% for the ALS height models and 60% for the model relating ALS data to single-tree height growth.
Cites: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 May 14;110(20):8117-22 PMID 23569221
In the age of climate change, the demand and lack of pure water challenges many communities. Substantial amount of effort is put in every year to manage and restore degraded lakes while the long-term effects of those efforts are only poorly known or monitored. Oxygenation, or aeration, is used extensively for the restoration of eutrophic lakes, although many studies question whether this process improves the status of the lakes in the long-term. The desired effect of oxygenation is based on paradigmatic theories that, in the light of recent literature, might not be adequate when long-term improvements are sought. This article canvasses expert views on the feasibility of the 'oxygen-phosphorus paradigm' as well as the future of the management and restoration of eutrophic lakes, based on an international, two-rounded, expert panel survey (Delphi study), employing 200 freshwater experts from 33 nationalities, contacted at three conferences on the topic. The conclusion is that the oxygen-phosphorus paradigm seems to be rather persistent. The experts considered oxygenation to be a valid short-term lake restoration method, but not without harmful side-effects. In addition, experts' low level of trust in the adequacy of the scientific knowledge on the effects of restorations and in the use of the scientific knowledge as a basis of choice of restoration methods, could be signs of a paradigm shift towards an outlook emphasizing more effective catchment management over short-term restorations. The expert panel also anticipated that reducing external nutrient loads from both point and diffuse sources will succeed in the future.
The causes of the recent rise of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) incidence in Europe are discussed. Our objective was to estimate the impact of air temperature change on TBE incidence in the European part of the Russian Arctic.
We analysed the TBE incidence in the Komi Republic (RK) over a 42-year period in relation to changes in local annual average air temperature, air temperature during the season of tick activity, tick abundance, TBE-prevalence in ticks, tick-bite incidence rate, and normalised difference vegetation index within the area under study.
In 1998-2011 in RK a substantial growth of TBE virus (TBEV) prevalence both in questing and feeding ticks was observed. In 1992-2011 there was 23-fold growth of the tick-bite incidence rate in humans, a northward shift of the reported tick bites, and the season of tick bites increased from 4 to 6 months. In 1998-2011 there was more than 6-fold growth of average annual TBE incidence compared with 1970-1983 and 1984-1997 periods. This resulted both from the northward shift of TBE, and its growth in the south. In our view it was related to local climate change as both the average annual air temperature, and the air temperature during the tick activity season grew substantially. We revealed in RK a strong correlation between the change in the air temperature and that in TBE incidence. The satellite data showed NDVI growth within RK, i.e. alteration of the local ecosystem under the influence of climate change.
The rise in TBE incidence in RK is related considerably to the expansion of the range of Ixodes persulcatus. The territory with reported TBE cases also expanded northward. Climate change is an important driver of TBE incidence rate growth.
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SYNOPSIS This report summarizes and discusses current knowledge on the impact that climate change can have on occupational safety and health (OSH), with a particular focus on the Americas. Worker safety and health issues are presented on topics related to specific stressors (e.g., temperature extremes), climate associated impacts (e.g., ice melt in the Arctic), and a health condition associated with climate change (chronic kidney disease of non-traditional etiology). The article discusses research needs, including hazards, surveillance, and risk assessment activities to better characterize and understand how OSH may be associated with climate change events. Also discussed are the actions that OSH professionals can take to ensure worker health and safety in the face of climate change.
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