Wednesday, April 13, 2011
How nitrogen costs us 700 euros per year and six months of life.
POLLUTION - The nitrogen used in fertilizers is spread through the atmosphere, soils and waters, causing adverse health effects
Air pollution, water contamination and soil nitrate, pollution on biodiversity, etc., nitrogen is very expensive for Europeans. A study conducted by 200 experts in 21 countries assesses the impact of pollution associated with nitrogen between 70 and 320 billion euros per year in Europe, between 140 and 730 euros per citizen. More worrying, the nitrogen may be responsible for shortening the duration of six months average life in Europe.
The nitrogen fertilizer necessary but has side effects:
"Nitrogen is absolutely essential for human well-being. The challenge is how to retain the benefits while minimizing negative impacts, "explains Professor Bob Watson, head of the British Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Used as fertilizer, nitrogen has increased agricultural productivity and feed more people. But its effects "secondary" on soil and water is expensive in terms of expenditure on health and water sanitation.
When spilled on soil, nitrogen seeps deep and turns into nitrates and ammonia. Nitrates pollute sustainable groundwater and rivers, threatening fish and making the water longer to retreat into purification plants.
When emitted into the atmosphere, nitrogen can cause disorders such as asthma and even contribute to cancer development. It is also the source of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas whose global warming potential over a hundred years is 310 times higher than CO2.
Eat less meat, a solution?
Although the use of nitrogen has slowed in recent years, "it must move faster to avoid such environmental damage," warns Bob Watson. According to researchers, our food choices could be a powerful lever: "The number of cattle and proteins that we choose to eat is a critical factor," said Dr. Mark Sutton, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. Without encouraging people to become vegetarians, the scientists explain that the fertilizers used to grow feed for livestock could be reduced with a decline in meat consumption.