Ammonia emmissions are a real problem for the environment, scientist says

WNM | Oct 12, 2019 at 9:49 PM

Mainz, October 11  (WNM) - Mainz based environmental scientist Jos Lelieveld thinks that the fight against pollutants in the air is led partly in the wrong place.

Lelieveld, along with others, has presented an important study on air pollution in recent days. It shows that air pollution has a much greater impact on human health than previously thought.

But Lelieveld sees shortcomings in the public debate on the causes of air pollution, how it could have come about and what the biggest factors are: "Modern cars are much cleaner than the old models. Pollutants have decreased significantly. A ban on the older models would make sense, and a further development into electric mobility as well," Lelieveld told the World News Monitor.

The problem with the legislation is that the limit values are set too high. Overall, traffic as a source of air pollution accounts for "only 20 percent" of total pollution, Lelieveld said. The car industry had actually been on the right track, but with the diesel fraud scandal it "laid a rotten egg in its own nest".

Lelieveld refers to the latest Leopoldina study. In it, the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina calls for "additional efforts to further reduce the concentration of pollutants in the air". However, the focus should be "more on particulate matter than on nitrogen oxides". The study: "No significant relief can be expected from short-term or small-scale measures, such as driving bans. Rather, a nationwide interdepartmental strategy for air pollution control was necessary. In the case of transport, the emission of greenhouse gases is particularly problematic, which is why there must be a "sustainable turnaround" in transport.

 Lelieveld also attests to the progress made in coal-fired power stations: "Modern filters have reduced sulphur dioxide emissions by 80 to 90 percent. That is a clear improvement, after all".

Nevertheless, coal remains a problem for him as well - as does agriculture, which Lelieveld believes is not discussed enough. "The agriculture causes enormous damage by the ammonia. Ammonia emissions must be removed from the system". The problem lies in the production of slurry: mass livestock farming produces enormous quantities of slurry: "These are then simply dumped on the fields. This over-fertilizes the fields. The system is wrong because the relationship between animals, slurry and land used to be right. Today, there are hardly any rules for dumping liquid manure. The agricultural lobby has successfully prevented this time and again - of course with reference to prices that could only remain so low if the current methods were retained," says Lelieveld. But the current agriculture is not sustainable. Methane emissions are also a problem - not for individual cows, however, but for mass livestock farming.  Lelieveld: "This is an area where we definitely can't go on like this."

 Overall, Lelieveld suggests that the bill "cheap = dirty" should be changed: "We have to add the cost of the health system to the price of cheap food. To do this, we must restructure our subsidy system: There should be subsidies for sustainable agriculture."