NITROGEN POLLUTION (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env & Eco)

News-CRUX-10     9th February 2024        
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Context: Water scarcity is exacerbated by declining water quality in numerous regions, and the situation is expected to worsen in the years to come, a new report underlined.

Nitrogen Pollution

  • About: Nitrogen, constituting the majority of the atmosphere, remains inert and unreactive in its natural state.
  • Reactivity in Anthropogenic Releases: When released through agricultural, sewage, or biological waste, nitrogen transforms into reactive compounds, potentially causing pollution and exhibiting a strong greenhouse gas effect.
  • Potent Greenhouse Gas Impact: Nitrous oxide (N2O), though less prevalent than carbon dioxide, possesses a greenhouse gas potency 300 times greater. Nitrogen pollution is associated with diverse environmental impacts, including the depletion of biodiversity, river and sea pollution, ozone depletion, and consequences for health, economy, and livelihoods.
  • Sources of Nitrogen Pollution: Emissions from chemical fertilizers, livestock manure, and the combustion of fossil fuels contribute significantly to nitrogen pollution.
  • Impact on Air Quality and Human Health: Ammonia (NH3) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) released into the air contribute to poor air quality, exacerbating respiratory and cardiac conditions, resulting in millions of premature deaths worldwide.
  • Nitrate Pollution in Water Systems: Nitrate pollution stemming from chemical fertilizers, manure, and industrial activities contaminates rivers and seas, posing health risks for humans and threatening aquatic ecosystems, including fish, coral, and plant life.
  • Harmful Algal Blooms and Dead Zones: Nitrogen pollution leads to the formation of harmful algal blooms and dead zones in water bodies, causing the production of toxins that harm both humans and aquatic organisms. This, in turn, negatively impacts fisheries and biodiversity in coastal regions.
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