Pollutant Information: Ammonia 

About Ammonia

Category: Air pollutants

Ammonia (NH3) plays an important role in a number of different environmental issues including acidification; nitrification and eutrophication. It also acts as a precursor to secondary particulate matter, therefore contributing to the related health impacts. The atmospheric chemistry of NH3 means that it can react with other chemicals to produce particles, which can be removed from the atmosphere by rain, or to produce other ammonia compounds, which can be transported long distances. As a result NH3 emissions can impact on a highly localised level, as well as contributing to effects from long-range pollutant transport. Agriculture is the dominant source of emissions, with the sector accounting for 83% of total emissions in 2014. Emissions occur due to the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers and from livestock farming, and cattle are the single largest source. Total UK emissions were 13% lower in 2014 compared with 1980 and the most significant cause of reductions in recent years has been decreasing cattle numbers. UK emissions in 2014 were already 0.3% below the Gothenburg Protocol target for 2020.

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Time series graph


Notable events

Start year End year Sector Information Impact
2000 2013 Cattle Decreasing livestock numbers and increasing milk yields improves efficiency in Agricultural industry. Decrease in emissions
2000 2013 Direct Soil Emissions Decrease in synthetic fertiliser application to soils for crop growth. The EU Nitrates directive/NVZs put restrictions on the use of nitrates. Decrease in emissions