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Excessive nitrogen harms the economy and environment -- first Europe-wide assessment published
Date:4/11/2011

A major new study finds that nitrogen pollution is costing each person in Europe around 130 - 650 (150 740 Euros) a year. The first European Nitrogen Assessment (ENA) is launched at a conference today in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The study, carried out by 200 experts from 21 countries and 89 organizations, estimates that the annual cost of damage caused by nitrogen across Europe is 60 - 280 billion (70 -320 billion), more than double the extra income gained from using nitrogen fertilizers in European agriculture.

Professor Bob Watson Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair (Defra) welcomes the report. He said, "The assessment emphasizes how nitrogen links the different environmental issues that we have come to know so well: climate, biodiversity, air, water, and soil pollution. It develops the vision for a more holistic approach, which is vital if we are to make progress in tackling these issues."

The ENA is the first time that the multiple threats of nitrogen pollution, including contributions to climate change and biodiversity loss, have been valued in economic terms at a continental scale. As well as identifying key threats the assessment also identifies the geographical areas at greatest risk of damage by nitrogen pollution. The report provides EU policymakers with a comprehensive scientific assessment on the consequences of failing to address the problem of nitrogen pollution and outlines key actions that can be taken to reduce the problem to protect environmental and public health.

Key messages from the assessment include:

  • At least ten million people in Europe are potentially exposed to drinking water with nitrate concentrations above recommended levels.
  • Nitrates cause toxic algal blooms and dead zones in the sea, especially in the North, Adriatic and Baltic seas and along the coast of Brittany.
  • Nitrogen-based air pollution from agriculture, indust
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Contact: Barnaby Smith
bpgs@ceh.ac.uk
44-079-202-95384
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Source:Eurekalert

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