Nitrogen pollution could be halved: Researchers

Nitrogen, dubbed as the most important fertilizer for crop productions, has become a major human health hazard.

Zee Media Bureau

New York: Nitrogen, dubbed as the most important fertilizer for crop productions, has become a major human health hazard.

Various human activities and other sources have led to the release of a huge amount of reactive nitrogen like ammonia and nitrous oxide, which is bad for the environment and human health in multiple ways.

A study now says that nitrogen pollution could rise by 20% by 2050 in a middle-of-the-road scenario if no action is take.
Researchers said that the risk of nitrogen pollution could be reduced by half with the combined efforts of farmers and consumers.

“Nitrogen is an irreplaceable nutrient and a true life-saver as it helps agriculture to feed a growing world population - but it is unfortunately also a dangerous pollutant,” said Benjamin Bodirsky of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, Colombia (CIAT).

In the different forms it can take through chemical reactions, it massively contributes to respirable dust, and can lead to the formation of aggressive ground-level ozone, and destabilise water ecosystems.

The study revealed that only combined mitigation efforts both in food production and consumption could substantially reduce the risks.
Currently, every second ton of nitrogen put on the fields is not taken up by the crops but blown away by the wind, washed out by rain or decomposed by micro-organisms.

To reduce losses and prevent pollution, farmers can more carefully target fertiliser application to plants` needs, using soil measurements.

It says farmers should aim at efficiently recycling animal dung to fertilise the plants.

“For consumers in developed countries, halving food waste, meat consumption and related feed use would not only benefit their health and their wallet but would also increase the overall resource efficiency of food production and reduce pollution,” said study co-author Alexander Popp.

The scientists ran extensive computer simulations to explore the effects of different mitigation measures.

Increased levels of nitrogen dioxide in our atmosphere can lead to lung damage, respiratory problems and cancer.

With Agency Inputs