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Nitrogen oxides use limits are greatly exceeded, especially in north-western Europe and parts of China and India. In contrast, Africa and South America have room for more nitrogen. This is according to a study by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), Utrecht University and Wageningen University & Research (WUR).
Editorial office / The Hague

Scientists from the three institutes have mapped the ‘planetary limits’ for nitrogen emissions regionally for the first time. They publish about it in the journal Nature.

This new study compares regional losses of nitrogen with calculated (global, not national) regional limits for impacts on wildlife and water quality. This shows, according to the researchers, that nitrogen is a “many-headed monster”. PBL researcher Lena Schulte-Uebbing says: “In some regions the limits for water quality are exceeded, in others the limits for effects on terrestrial nature, and in still others all of them.”

“Changing the distribution of nitrogen around the world is important,” argues WUR researcher Wim de Vries. “To feed the world without exceeding regional and planetary nitrogen limits, we need to use nitrogen in agriculture much more efficiently. In addition, we need to reduce losses from non-agricultural nitrogen sources, such as sewage and industry. So this requires coordinated action.”

Read more on the website of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL).

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