Nitrogen pollution considered even more devastating than carbon pollution

There is a type of pollution probably even more serious than that deriving from carbon according to a group made up of more than 150 important international scientists from more than 70 scientific institutes that have released a communiqué concerning nitrogen pollution, an open letter sent to the United Nations Secretary António Guterres.

This element is indeed causing many problems to the environment and therefore to the fauna and humans. So the same scientists ask the countries to “wake up” and reduce the waste that contains nitrogen and all its derivatives. In fact, nitrogen can be present in many forms, from ammonia to nitrogen dioxide to end up with the terrible nitrous oxide, a 300 times more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. In all these versions, nitrogen poses a threat to human and animal health as well as to the diversity of the world.

According to the report, to date, 80% of the nitrogen that men use, mostly in the context of agriculture and breeding but also for the energy sector and for the industrial sector as well as for the purification of wastewater, is included in the environment in polluting form. For example, in the United Kingdom alone, 1.4 million tons of nitrogen per year are released into the environment and, globally, the total nitrogen entering the environment rises to 200 million tons per year.

“If we want to counteract climate change, air pollution, water pollution, biodiversity loss, soil degradation and stratospheric ozone depletion, then a new focus on nitrogen will be vital,” report the scientists in the release.

According to Sutton of the Center for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), UK, it is essential to increasingly exploit a circular economy especially with regard to nitrogen to prevent large-scale impacts that will involve the whole planet.

Ramesh Iven

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