Nairobi: Nitrogen pollution is one of the biggest environmental issues faced by humans today and requires urgent action from nations around the world, the UN Environment agency said on Monday.
Its Frontiers report, launched ahead of the UN Environment high-level assembly beginning here on March 11, explores environmental issues that will have profound effects on society, economy and ecosystems, along with some novel solutions.
By scanning the technological and environmental horizons, the report identifies five major topics — synthetic biology, ecological connectivity, permafrost peatlands, nitrogen pollution and maladaptation to climate change.
Nitrogen is essential for life but excess nitrogen pollution has tremendous consequences on humans and the environment, the report said. In the form of nitrous oxide, for example, it is 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, in addition to the effects of various nitrogen compounds on air quality and the ozone layer.
“Altogether, humans are producing a cocktail of reactive nitrogen that threatens health, climate and ecosystems, making nitrogen one of the most important pollution issues facing humanity,” the report warns.
“Yet the scale of the problem remains largely unknown and unacknowledged outside scientific circles,” it adds.