Integrated Modeling of U.S. Agricultural Soil Emissions of Reactive Nitrogen and Associated Impacts on Air Pollution, Health, and Climate

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Abstract

Agricultural soils are leading sources of reactive nitrogen (Nr) species including nitrogen oxides (NOx), ammonia (NH3), and nitrous oxide (N2O). The propensity of NOxand NH3to generate ozone and fine particulate matter and associated impacts on health are highly variable, whereas the climate impacts of long-lived N2O are independent of emission timing and location. However, these impacts have rarely been compared on a spatially resolved monetized basis. In this study, we update the nitrogen scheme in an agroecosystem model to simulate the Nr emissions from fertilized soils across the contiguous United States. We then apply a reduced-form air pollution health effect model to assess air quality impacts from NOxand NH3and a social cost of N2O to assess the climate impacts. Assuming an $8.2 million value of a statistical life and a $13,100/ton social cost of N2O, the air quality impacts are a factor of ∼7 to 15 times as large as the climate impacts in heavily populated coastal regions, whereas the ratios are closer to 2.5 in sparsely populated regions. Our results show that air pollution, health, and climate should be considered jointly in future assessments of how farming practices affect Nr emissions.

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Luo, L., Ran, L., Rasool, Q. Z., & Cohan, D. S. (2022). Integrated Modeling of U.S. Agricultural Soil Emissions of Reactive Nitrogen and Associated Impacts on Air Pollution, Health, and Climate. Environmental Science and Technology, 56(13), 9265–9276. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.1c08660

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