The Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board has presented the report, Reactive Nitrogen in the United States: An Analysis of Inputs, Flows, Consequences,
and Management Options. Reactive nitrogen includes all biologically active, chemically reactive, and radiatively active nitrogen compounds in the atmosphere and biosphere of the earth, in contrast to non-reactive gaseous N2. The Science Advisory Board Integrated Nitrogen Committee has conducted a study to analyze sources and fate of Nr in the United States and provide advice to EPA on integrated nitrogen research and control strategies.
The SAB found that more than five times the amount of Nr is introduced into the environment by human activity than natural processes; much of the Nr used in food, fiber and fuel is released into the environment as is the Nr formed during fossil fuel combustion; and the introduction of human created Nr degrades air and water quality. However multiple strategies and actions exist to more effectively minimize the inputs of Nr to the environment and maximize nitrogen use efficiency.
Among the recommendations SAB provides in the report is taking an integrated approach to the management of Nr. This approach must use a combination of implementation mechanisms appropriate to the specific environmental and policy contexts and supported by critical research on the specific risks of Nr and on decreasing the risks of Nr. The approach must reflect an integrated policy that recognizes the complexity and trade-offs associated with the nitrogen cascade while recognizing that intervention points vary in terms of efficiency and cost effectiveness.
The report also calls for EPA to form an intra-agency management task force that would build on existing research and management capabilities within the Agency. The SAB says EPA will have to change the way it interacts with other agencies to successfully manage Nr.To view the report in its entirety, click HERE.