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Environ Pollut. 2007 Nov;150(1):140-9.

Reduced nitrogen in ecology and the environment.

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Energy Research Center of the Netherlands, ECN, PO Box 1, 1755 ZG Petten, The Netherlands.


Since the beginning of the 19th century humans have increasingly fixed atmospheric nitrogen as ammonia to be used as fertilizer. The fertilizers are necessary to create amino acids and carbohydrates in plants to feed animals and humans. The efficiency with which the fertilizers eventually reach humans is very small: 5-15%, with much of the remainder lost to the environment. The global industrial production of ammonia amounts to 117 Mton NH(3)-Nyear(-1) (for 2004). By comparison, we calculate that anthropogenic emissions of NH(3) to the atmosphere over the lifecycle of industrial NH(3) in agriculture are 45.3 Mton NH(3)-Nyear(-1), about half the industrial production. Once emitted ammonia has a central role in many environmental issues. We expect an increase in fertilizer use through increasing demands for food and biofuels as population increases. Therefore, management of ammonia or abatement is necessary.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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