Tuesday, March 5, 2013

China faces major nitrogen pollution issue

Over the last 20 years or so, China has become a global synonym for excessive pollution, especially air pollution. However, very little is known that another dangerous form of pollution is also growing in the world's most populated country - nitrogen pollution.

The recent study that was done by joint work from Stanford Woods Institute and China Agricultural University in Beijing concluded that nitrogen pollution increased by 60 percent annually from the 1980s to the 2000s. The major sources of nitrogen pollution are industry, cars and fertilizers.

The nitrogen pollution occurs once excessive amounts of nitrogen are being deposited on land and water in China by carriers such as rain and dust.

China is today the world's largest emitter of nitrogen. China faces very difficult task at reducing agricultural nutrient pollution while increasing food production.The latest reports suggest that country's consumption of nitrogen as a fertilizer increased threefold from the 1980s to 2000s, in fact country's production and use of nitrogen-based fertilizers is greater than that of the United States and the European Union combined. Not only that, it has been also reported that livestock numbers and coal combustion increased  fourfold, and the number of cars on Chinese roads about twentyfold.

The excessive nitrogen pollution is also one of the factors that contribute to China's poor air quality.  Not only this, the increased amount of nitrogen also leads to degradation of soil and water quality, causes increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and has a negative environmental impact by reducing biological diversity.

China's huge economic growth accompanied by rapid industrialization and agricultural expansion is the major culprit for excessive nitrogen emissions and nitrogen deposition. The solution to halt nitrogen pollution is pretty obvious namely stricter environmental policy focused on improving efficiency in agricultural use of nitrogen as well as reducing nitrogen emissions from including industry and cars. However, obvious does not also mean easy, and once again China will likely be a victim of its own economic success.

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