Impacts of Ammonia
Ammonia impacts both the environment and human health.
* Environmental Impacts
* Human Health Impacts
When in gaseous form, ammonia has a short atmospheric lifetime of about 24 hours and usually deposits near its source . In particulate form ammonia can travel much further impacting a larger area. Both gaseous and particulate ammonia contribute to eutrophication of surface waters, soil acidification, fertilization of vegetation, changes in ecosystems ,and smog and decreased visibility in case of major gas . Eutrophication
Eutrophication is a result of nutrient pollution (from deposition or run-off) into natural waters (creeks, rivers, ponds, or lakes). Eutrophication generally promotes excessive plant growth and decay, favors certain weedy species over others, and is likely to cause severe reductions in water quality. In aquatic environments, enhanced growth of choking aquatic vegetation or algal blooms disrupt normal functioning of the ecosystem, causing problems such as a lack of oxygen in the water, needed for fish and other aquatic life to survive. The water then becomes cloudy, colored a shade of green, yellow, brown, or red. Soil Acidification
When ammonia reaches the soil surface, it usually reacts with water in the soil and is converted into its ionic form, ammonium (NH4+) and absorbes to the soil. The ammonium in the soil eventually disassociates or is nitrified into nitrite (NO2-) or nitrate (NO3-) by nitrifying bacteria, releasing H+ ions into the soil (3, 4). If not taken up by biomass and converted to methane, the surplus H+ ions eventually lead to the formation of an acidic soil environment. The nitrogen left over in the soil will either be taken up by plants, stored in the soil, returned to the atmosphere, or will be removed from the soil in runoff or leaching (3). Fertilization of Vegetation
Fertilization of vegetation by ammonia occurs in much the same way as applying fertilizer to the soil; however, in this case ammonia gas from the air deposits on the leaf or soil surface at the base of the plant and is taken up by the plant. Changes in plant growth can then occur, similar to those resulting from fertilization. In a grass plains environment, changes may be subtle; however, in natural or mountain areas, changes in plant species may be more obvious, promoting weedy plants while choking out native plants and wild flowers or promoting grasses and sages.
Changes in Ecosystems
An ecosystem is a natural system consisting of plants, animal, and other microorganisms functioning together in a balanced relationship. Changes in ecosystems due to ammonia deposition occur through a combination of all the above mentioned processes. When changes in ecosystems occur, the natural balance of a system is disrupted and fragile plant and animal species can be replaced by non-native or N-responsive species. The disruption of an ecosystem can cause it to adapt by changing (positive or negative outcome), or a disruption may lead to the extinction of the ecosystem. Smog and Decreased Visibility
When ammonia combines with NOx emissions from other plant processes it forms fine particulates. These fine particulates are a contributor to haze/smog and decreased visibility .In sase of a major gas leak the ammonia cloud leads to decreased visibility.Smog is also a human health issue leading to an increased rate of respiratory and heart diseases. Human Health Impacts
Ammonia effects human and animal health both as a gas and as a particulate. The particulate form of ammonia has broader implications for the general public, where as the gaseous form is a localized concern for the health of animals and agricultural workers. When in fine particulate form, ammonium particles pose a risk to human health. Such small diameter particles are able to be respired and travel deep into lung tissue to the alveoli causing a variety of respiratory ailments such as bronchitis, asthma,...
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