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Farm Emissions: Primary Source of Air Pollution, Study Says

First Posted: May 23, 2016 07:00 AM EDT
Agricultural pollution
Agricultural pollution refers to biotic and abiotic byproducts of farming practices that result in contamination or degradation of the environment and surrounding ecosystems, and/or cause injury to humans and their economic interests. Wikimedia Commons/Lynn Betts

Air pollution due to farm emissions is greater than the rest of the pollution from humans with fine particles in most of Europe, China, Russia and the US. The cause is being pointed at the fumes coming from the nitrogen-filled fertilizers and animal wastes that when mixed in the air, along with combustion emissions to create solid particles, will form a major source of illness and even death based on a new study.

However, air pollution is expected to decrease even when the fertilizer utilizes doubles if the combustion emissions are reduced in the coming years. This is according to a new study, which was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letter.

Agricultural air pollution will come specifically in an ammonia type, which penetrates the air as a form of a gas from the heavily fertilized fields as well as livestock waste. It eventually mixes with other pollutants from the combustion, which is mainly the sulfates and nitrogen oxides from power plants, industrial processes and vehicles. This now creates small and solid particles, or the aerosols, not more than 2.5 micrometers over, at about one over 30 the width of a human hair.

Aerosols can go  deep into the lungs that can cause pulmonary and heart disease. In a 2015 study published in the journal Nature, it estimates at least 3.3 millions of death per year, citing aerosols as the cause. Aside from this, a recent study at the Geophysical Research Letters discovered that these particles cause more than 500,000 deaths every year in India alone, according to Earth.Columbia.

Several studies have been conducted, especially in the US, that have indicated agricultural pollution as the chief source of the fine particle precursors. However, the new study is among the first to consider the worldwide phenomenon and to predict future trends. The findings of the study also suggest that over half the aerosol particles in most of the central and eastern part of the US come from agricultural farming, Science Daily reported.

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