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Ammonia leaking from fertiliser damaging biodiversity and health

Ammoniak leaking causes eutrophication of ecosystems which leads to a loss of biodiversity.

Ammonia from manure and fertilisers is leaking into the atmosphere. This causes eutrophication of ecosystems and leads to loss of biodiversity. Ammonia also contributes to particulate matter, reducing air quality which can cause health problems including heart disease.

Planetary boundary for nitrogen already exceeded by factor four

In this themed issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B*, Prof. Erisman’s paper explains, ‘Many thresholds for human and ecosystem health have been exceeded due to nitrogen pollution (of which ammonia forms an important part), including those for drinking water, air quality, biodiversity loss, and climate change. Our growing food consumption and changes into meat rich diets will further exceed the planetary boundary for nitrogen, which is already exceeded by a factor four.’

This global problem is even more alarming when linked with climate change, as explored in co-editor Prof. Sutton’s research, ‘The warmer climate that we are expecting will lead to higher ammonia emissions. This will lead to more environmental problems caused by ammonia.’

This theme issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B*, which originates from a Discussion Meeting held at the Royal Society in December 2011, provides a summary of current understanding of the global nitrogen cycle and the likely changes through the 21st century. For more information please contact J.W. Erisman.

Datum: 30-05-2013