Agriculture emissions pose risks to health and climate: As other sources subside, study shows nitrogen emissions cause greater share of pollutants

Agricultural pollution comes from the prairie, but its economic impact on humans is a problem for cities.

A study led by environmental scientists at Rice University’s George R. Brown School of Engineering puts numbers to the toll of reactive nitrogen species produced in America’s croplands.

The study led by Daniel Cohan, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and graduate student Lina Luo quantifies emissions of nitrogen oxides, ammonia and nitrous oxide from fertilized soils over three years (2011, 2012 and 2017) and compares their impacts by region on air quality, health and climate.

While seasonal and regional impacts differ across types of emission, the study found total annual damages from ammonia were much larger overall — at $72 billion — than those from nitrogen oxides ($12 billion) and nitrous oxide ($13 billion).

Air pollution damages are measured by increased mortality and morbidity and the value of statistical life, while monetized damages from climate change include the threats to crops, property, ecosystem services and human health.

On that basis, the researchers found the health impact of air pollution from ammonia and nitrogen oxides, which react to form particulate matter and ozone, substantially outweighed climate impact from nitrous oxide in all regions and years.

Source: Read Full Article