August 2008, Vol. 20, No.8

Research Notes

RNA Interference, A New Approach To Clean Water

Engineers at Duke University (Durham, N.C.) have found that a relatively new technology known as RNA interference (RNAi) was able to take short strands of genetic material to target the fungus Pichia pastoris and make it stop working, according to a university news release.

“Our data showed that we could silence the action of a specific gene in a fungus in water, leading us to believe that RNAi shows promise as a gene-silencing tool for controlling the proliferation of waterborne bacteria and viruses,” said Sara Morey, a Ph.D. student who assisted with the research.

During the RNAi process, short portions of genetic material enter the cell of a target and attach to a corresponding gene segment to inhibit the action of the target gene. According to the news release, this approach is used as a tool in biomedical research but has not yet been used in environmental applications.

The researchers believe that if this approach can be perfected, it could serve as the basis for a device to help solve problems associated with safe drinking water, especially in countries without water treatment facilities, according to the release.

“We envision creating a system based on RNAi technology that would look from the outside just like the water filters commonly used now,” said Claudia Gunsch, assistant professor of civil engineering at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering. “This approach would be especially attractive in less industrialized countries without water treatment systems. This ‘point-of-use’ strategy would allow these countries to make safe water without the expense of water purification infrastructure."

The new approach also could address some drawbacks associated with treated drinking water in developed countries, Morey said. These issues include the expense and the resulting taste and smell of water from the current chlorine and ultraviolet (UV) light treatments.

In addition, overchlorination to neutralize pathogens found in the distribution system can result in the taste or smell of the chemical in homes nearest to the treatment plant, and chlorine can react with organic matter in the system to create potentially harmful byproducts, according to the researchers. Gunsch said pathogens are developing a resistance to the effects of chlorine and UV light.

“This technology could be used as a polishing step to remove microorganisms which have developed resistance to conventional disinfection treatment technologies,” Gunsch said. Prototypes likely will involve a filter containing RNAi to eliminate pathogens as water passes through, she said.

The researchers are conducting additional experiments targeting other regions of the fungus’ genome, the news release says. For their proof-of-concept experiments, they tested a nonessential, easy-to-monitor gene, but now they will test the approach on genes essential to the viability of the pathogen, the release notes.

While Pichia pastoris was a model fungus that is not typically present in wastewater, the researchers hope to apply the technology to other pathogens found in wastewater, the release says. They also plan to test this strategy in water with several different pathogens simultaneously and try to determine the optimal concentration needed to be effective.



Scientists: Nitrogen Footprint Growing at ‘Alarming Rate’

Two papers recently published in Science magazine have drawn attention to the problem of excessive reactive nitrogen in the environment.

In these papers, researchers from the University of Virginia (Charlottesville) discuss how food and energy production are causing reactive nitrogen to accumulate in soil, water, the atmosphere, and coastal oceanic waters, contributing to the greenhouse effect, smog, haze, acid rain, coastal dead zones, and stratospheric ozone depletion, according to a university press release.

“We are accumulating reactive nitrogen in the environment at alarming rates, and this may prove to be as serious as putting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” said James Galloway, an environmental sciences professor at the university and lead author of one of the articles, “Transformation of the Nitrogen Cycle: Recent Trends, Questions, and Potential Solutions.” He also is co-author of the second article, “Impacts of Atmospheric Anthropogenic Nitrogen on the Open Ocean,” and founding chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative (www.initrogen.org).

Nitrogen comprises 78% of the earth’s atmosphere, primarily in the inert form, N2, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. For this inert form to be used by a majority of living organisms, it must be transformed into reactive nitrogen, which is necessary for crops to thrive and meet their maximum production potential, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. When present in excess, reactive nitrogen has negative environmental effects and poses risks to human health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified these compounds as precursors for both ozone and fine particulate matter.

Mass production of nitrogen-based fertilizers and burning of fossil fuels in the last century have resulted in massive amounts of reactive nitrogen compounds released into the environment, according to the press release.

“Nitrogen is needed to grow food,” Galloway said, “but because of the inefficiencies of nitrogen uptake by plants and animals, only about 10[%] to 15[%] of reactive nitrogen ever enters a human mouth as food. The rest is lost to the environment and injected into the atmosphere by combustion.

“A unique and troublesome aspect of nitrogen is that a single atom released to the environment can cause a cascading sequence of events, resulting ultimately in harm to the natural balance of our ecosystems and to our very health,” Galloway said.

This “nitrogen cascade” can be exemplified by a nitrogen atom that starts as a smog-forming compound that is deposited in lakes and forests as nitric acid that can kill fish and insects, and when carried out to the coast, may contribute to dead zones and eventually be put back into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, the press release notes.

Possible approaches to minimizing nitrogen use suggested by Galloway include optimizing its uptake by plants and animals, recovering and reusing nitrogen from manure and wastewater, and decreasing emissions from fossil-fuel combustion. Galloway seeks to create a “nitrogen footprint” calculator that can be accessed online. He said reducing nitrogen footprints can be accomplished by reducing energy consumption, traveling less, and changing diets to fish, less meat, and locally grown produce, the press release says.

Two papers recently published in magazine have drawn attention to the problem of excessive reactive nitrogen in the environment.In these papers, researchers from the University of Virginia (Charlottesville) discuss how food and energy production are causing reactive nitrogen to accumulate in soil, water, the atmosphere, and coastal oceanic waters, contributing to the greenhouse effect, smog, haze, acid rain, coastal dead zones, and stratospheric ozone depletion, according to a university press release.“We are accumulating reactive nitrogen in the environment at alarming rates, and this may prove to be as serious as putting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” said James Galloway, an environmental sciences professor at the university and lead author of one of the articles, “Transformation of the Nitrogen Cycle: Recent Trends, Questions, and Potential Solutions.” He also is co-author of the second article, “Impacts of Atmospheric Anthropogenic Nitrogen on the Open Ocean,” and founding chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative ().Nitrogen comprises 78% of the earth’s atmosphere, primarily in the inert form, N, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. For this inert form to be used by a majority of living organisms, it must be transformed into reactive nitrogen, which is necessary for crops to thrive and meet their maximum production potential, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. When present in excess, reactive nitrogen has negative environmental effects and poses risks to human health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified these compounds as precursors for both ozone and fine particulate matter.Mass production of nitrogen-based fertilizers and burning of fossil fuels in the last century have resulted in massive amounts of reactive nitrogen compounds released into the environment, according to the press release.“Nitrogen is needed to grow food,” Galloway said, “but because of the inefficiencies of nitrogen uptake by plants and animals, only about 10[%] to 15[%] of reactive nitrogen ever enters a human mouth as food. The rest is lost to the environment and injected into the atmosphere by combustion.“A unique and troublesome aspect of nitrogen is that a single atom released to the environment can cause a cascading sequence of events, resulting ultimately in harm to the natural balance of our ecosystems and to our very health,” Galloway said.This “nitrogen cascade” can be exemplified by a nitrogen atom that starts as a smog-forming compound that is deposited in lakes and forests as nitric acid that can kill fish and insects, and when carried out to the coast, may contribute to dead zones and eventually be put back into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, the press release notes.Possible approaches to minimizing nitrogen use suggested by Galloway include optimizing its uptake by plants and animals, recovering and reusing nitrogen from manure and wastewater, and decreasing emissions from fossil-fuel combustion. Galloway seeks to create a “nitrogen footprint” calculator that can be accessed online. He said reducing nitrogen footprints can be accomplished by reducing energy consumption, traveling less, and changing diets to fish, less meat, and locally grown produce, the press release says.

 

Two papers recently published in magazine have drawn attention to the problem of excessive reactive nitrogen in the environment.In these papers, researchers from the University of Virginia (Charlottesville) discuss how food and energy production are causing reactive nitrogen to accumulate in soil, water, the atmosphere, and coastal oceanic waters, contributing to the greenhouse effect, smog, haze, acid rain, coastal dead zones, and stratospheric ozone depletion, according to a university press release.“We are accumulating reactive nitrogen in the environment at alarming rates, and this may prove to be as serious as putting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” said James Galloway, an environmental sciences professor at the university and lead author of one of the articles, “Transformation of the Nitrogen Cycle: Recent Trends, Questions, and Potential Solutions.” He also is co-author of the second article, “Impacts of Atmospheric Anthropogenic Nitrogen on the Open Ocean,” and founding chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative ().Nitrogen comprises 78% of the earth’s atmosphere, primarily in the inert form, N, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. For this inert form to be used by a majority of living organisms, it must be transformed into reactive nitrogen, which is necessary for crops to thrive and meet their maximum production potential, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. When present in excess, reactive nitrogen has negative environmental effects and poses risks to human health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified these compounds as precursors for both ozone and fine particulate matter.Mass production of nitrogen-based fertilizers and burning of fossil fuels in the last century have resulted in massive amounts of reactive nitrogen compounds released into the environment, according to the press release.“Nitrogen is needed to grow food,” Galloway said, “but because of the inefficiencies of nitrogen uptake by plants and animals, only about 10[%] to 15[%] of reactive nitrogen ever enters a human mouth as food. The rest is lost to the environment and injected into the atmosphere by combustion.“A unique and troublesome aspect of nitrogen is that a single atom released to the environment can cause a cascading sequence of events, resulting ultimately in harm to the natural balance of our ecosystems and to our very health,” Galloway said.This “nitrogen cascade” can be exemplified by a nitrogen atom that starts as a smog-forming compound that is deposited in lakes and forests as nitric acid that can kill fish and insects, and when carried out to the coast, may contribute to dead zones and eventually be put back into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, the press release notes.Possible approaches to minimizing nitrogen use suggested by Galloway include optimizing its uptake by plants and animals, recovering and reusing nitrogen from manure and wastewater, and decreasing emissions from fossil-fuel combustion. Galloway seeks to create a “nitrogen footprint” calculator that can be accessed online. He said reducing nitrogen footprints can be accomplished by reducing energy consumption, traveling less, and changing diets to fish, less meat, and locally grown produce, the press release says.

 

Two papers recently published in magazine have drawn attention to the problem of excessive reactive nitrogen in the environment.In these papers, researchers from the University of Virginia (Charlottesville) discuss how food and energy production are causing reactive nitrogen to accumulate in soil, water, the atmosphere, and coastal oceanic waters, contributing to the greenhouse effect, smog, haze, acid rain, coastal dead zones, and stratospheric ozone depletion, according to a university press release.“We are accumulating reactive nitrogen in the environment at alarming rates, and this may prove to be as serious as putting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” said James Galloway, an environmental sciences professor at the university and lead author of one of the articles, “Transformation of the Nitrogen Cycle: Recent Trends, Questions, and Potential Solutions.” He also is co-author of the second article, “Impacts of Atmospheric Anthropogenic Nitrogen on the Open Ocean,” and founding chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative ().Nitrogen comprises 78% of the earth’s atmosphere, primarily in the inert form, N, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. For this inert form to be used by a majority of living organisms, it must be transformed into reactive nitrogen, which is necessary for crops to thrive and meet their maximum production potential, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. When present in excess, reactive nitrogen has negative environmental effects and poses risks to human health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified these compounds as precursors for both ozone and fine particulate matter.Mass production of nitrogen-based fertilizers and burning of fossil fuels in the last century have resulted in massive amounts of reactive nitrogen compounds released into the environment, according to the press release.“Nitrogen is needed to grow food,” Galloway said, “but because of the inefficiencies of nitrogen uptake by plants and animals, only about 10[%] to 15[%] of reactive nitrogen ever enters a human mouth as food. The rest is lost to the environment and injected into the atmosphere by combustion.“A unique and troublesome aspect of nitrogen is that a single atom released to the environment can cause a cascading sequence of events, resulting ultimately in harm to the natural balance of our ecosystems and to our very health,” Galloway said.This “nitrogen cascade” can be exemplified by a nitrogen atom that starts as a smog-forming compound that is deposited in lakes and forests as nitric acid that can kill fish and insects, and when carried out to the coast, may contribute to dead zones and eventually be put back into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, the press release notes.Possible approaches to minimizing nitrogen use suggested by Galloway include optimizing its uptake by plants and animals, recovering and reusing nitrogen from manure and wastewater, and decreasing emissions from fossil-fuel combustion. Galloway seeks to create a “nitrogen footprint” calculator that can be accessed online. He said reducing nitrogen footprints can be accomplished by reducing energy consumption, traveling less, and changing diets to fish, less meat, and locally grown produce, the press release says.

 

Two papers recently published in magazine have drawn attention to the problem of excessive reactive nitrogen in the environment.In these papers, researchers from the University of Virginia (Charlottesville) discuss how food and energy production are causing reactive nitrogen to accumulate in soil, water, the atmosphere, and coastal oceanic waters, contributing to the greenhouse effect, smog, haze, acid rain, coastal dead zones, and stratospheric ozone depletion, according to a university press release.“We are accumulating reactive nitrogen in the environment at alarming rates, and this may prove to be as serious as putting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” said James Galloway, an environmental sciences professor at the university and lead author of one of the articles, “Transformation of the Nitrogen Cycle: Recent Trends, Questions, and Potential Solutions.” He also is co-author of the second article, “Impacts of Atmospheric Anthropogenic Nitrogen on the Open Ocean,” and founding chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative ().Nitrogen comprises 78% of the earth’s atmosphere, primarily in the inert form, N, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. For this inert form to be used by a majority of living organisms, it must be transformed into reactive nitrogen, which is necessary for crops to thrive and meet their maximum production potential, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. When present in excess, reactive nitrogen has negative environmental effects and poses risks to human health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified these compounds as precursors for both ozone and fine particulate matter.Mass production of nitrogen-based fertilizers and burning of fossil fuels in the last century have resulted in massive amounts of reactive nitrogen compounds released into the environment, according to the press release.“Nitrogen is needed to grow food,” Galloway said, “but because of the inefficiencies of nitrogen uptake by plants and animals, only about 10[%] to 15[%] of reactive nitrogen ever enters a human mouth as food. The rest is lost to the environment and injected into the atmosphere by combustion.“A unique and troublesome aspect of nitrogen is that a single atom released to the environment can cause a cascading sequence of events, resulting ultimately in harm to the natural balance of our ecosystems and to our very health,” Galloway said.This “nitrogen cascade” can be exemplified by a nitrogen atom that starts as a smog-forming compound that is deposited in lakes and forests as nitric acid that can kill fish and insects, and when carried out to the coast, may contribute to dead zones and eventually be put back into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, the press release notes.Possible approaches to minimizing nitrogen use suggested by Galloway include optimizing its uptake by plants and animals, recovering and reusing nitrogen from manure and wastewater, and decreasing emissions from fossil-fuel combustion. Galloway seeks to create a “nitrogen footprint” calculator that can be accessed online. He said reducing nitrogen footprints can be accomplished by reducing energy consumption, traveling less, and changing diets to fish, less meat, and locally grown produce, the press release says.

 

Two papers recently published in magazine have drawn attention to the problem of excessive reactive nitrogen in the environment.In these papers, researchers from the University of Virginia (Charlottesville) discuss how food and energy production are causing reactive nitrogen to accumulate in soil, water, the atmosphere, and coastal oceanic waters, contributing to the greenhouse effect, smog, haze, acid rain, coastal dead zones, and stratospheric ozone depletion, according to a university press release.“We are accumulating reactive nitrogen in the environment at alarming rates, and this may prove to be as serious as putting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” said James Galloway, an environmental sciences professor at the university and lead author of one of the articles, “Transformation of the Nitrogen Cycle: Recent Trends, Questions, and Potential Solutions.” He also is co-author of the second article, “Impacts of Atmospheric Anthropogenic Nitrogen on the Open Ocean,” and founding chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative ().Nitrogen comprises 78% of the earth’s atmosphere, primarily in the inert form, N, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. For this inert form to be used by a majority of living organisms, it must be transformed into reactive nitrogen, which is necessary for crops to thrive and meet their maximum production potential, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. When present in excess, reactive nitrogen has negative environmental effects and poses risks to human health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified these compounds as precursors for both ozone and fine particulate matter.Mass production of nitrogen-based fertilizers and burning of fossil fuels in the last century have resulted in massive amounts of reactive nitrogen compounds released into the environment, according to the press release.“Nitrogen is needed to grow food,” Galloway said, “but because of the inefficiencies of nitrogen uptake by plants and animals, only about 10[%] to 15[%] of reactive nitrogen ever enters a human mouth as food. The rest is lost to the environment and injected into the atmosphere by combustion.“A unique and troublesome aspect of nitrogen is that a single atom released to the environment can cause a cascading sequence of events, resulting ultimately in harm to the natural balance of our ecosystems and to our very health,” Galloway said.This “nitrogen cascade” can be exemplified by a nitrogen atom that starts as a smog-forming compound that is deposited in lakes and forests as nitric acid that can kill fish and insects, and when carried out to the coast, may contribute to dead zones and eventually be put back into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, the press release notes.Possible approaches to minimizing nitrogen use suggested by Galloway include optimizing its uptake by plants and animals, recovering and reusing nitrogen from manure and wastewater, and decreasing emissions from fossil-fuel combustion. Galloway seeks to create a “nitrogen footprint” calculator that can be accessed online. He said reducing nitrogen footprints can be accomplished by reducing energy consumption, traveling less, and changing diets to fish, less meat, and locally grown produce, the press release says.

 

Two papers recently published in magazine have drawn attention to the problem of excessive reactive nitrogen in the environment.In these papers, researchers from the University of Virginia (Charlottesville) discuss how food and energy production are causing reactive nitrogen to accumulate in soil, water, the atmosphere, and coastal oceanic waters, contributing to the greenhouse effect, smog, haze, acid rain, coastal dead zones, and stratospheric ozone depletion, according to a university press release.“We are accumulating reactive nitrogen in the environment at alarming rates, and this may prove to be as serious as putting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” said James Galloway, an environmental sciences professor at the university and lead author of one of the articles, “Transformation of the Nitrogen Cycle: Recent Trends, Questions, and Potential Solutions.” He also is co-author of the second article, “Impacts of Atmospheric Anthropogenic Nitrogen on the Open Ocean,” and founding chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative ().Nitrogen comprises 78% of the earth’s atmosphere, primarily in the inert form, N, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. For this inert form to be used by a majority of living organisms, it must be transformed into reactive nitrogen, which is necessary for crops to thrive and meet their maximum production potential, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. When present in excess, reactive nitrogen has negative environmental effects and poses risks to human health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified these compounds as precursors for both ozone and fine particulate matter.Mass production of nitrogen-based fertilizers and burning of fossil fuels in the last century have resulted in massive amounts of reactive nitrogen compounds released into the environment, according to the press release.“Nitrogen is needed to grow food,” Galloway said, “but because of the inefficiencies of nitrogen uptake by plants and animals, only about 10[%] to 15[%] of reactive nitrogen ever enters a human mouth as food. The rest is lost to the environment and injected into the atmosphere by combustion.“A unique and troublesome aspect of nitrogen is that a single atom released to the environment can cause a cascading sequence of events, resulting ultimately in harm to the natural balance of our ecosystems and to our very health,” Galloway said.This “nitrogen cascade” can be exemplified by a nitrogen atom that starts as a smog-forming compound that is deposited in lakes and forests as nitric acid that can kill fish and insects, and when carried out to the coast, may contribute to dead zones and eventually be put back into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, the press release notes.Possible approaches to minimizing nitrogen use suggested by Galloway include optimizing its uptake by plants and animals, recovering and reusing nitrogen from manure and wastewater, and decreasing emissions from fossil-fuel combustion. Galloway seeks to create a “nitrogen footprint” calculator that can be accessed online. He said reducing nitrogen footprints can be accomplished by reducing energy consumption, traveling less, and changing diets to fish, less meat, and locally grown produce, the press release says.

 

Two papers recently published in magazine have drawn attention to the problem of excessive reactive nitrogen in the environment.In these papers, researchers from the University of Virginia (Charlottesville) discuss how food and energy production are causing reactive nitrogen to accumulate in soil, water, the atmosphere, and coastal oceanic waters, contributing to the greenhouse effect, smog, haze, acid rain, coastal dead zones, and stratospheric ozone depletion, according to a university press release.“We are accumulating reactive nitrogen in the environment at alarming rates, and this may prove to be as serious as putting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” said James Galloway, an environmental sciences professor at the university and lead author of one of the articles, “Transformation of the Nitrogen Cycle: Recent Trends, Questions, and Potential Solutions.” He also is co-author of the second article, “Impacts of Atmospheric Anthropogenic Nitrogen on the Open Ocean,” and founding chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative ().Nitrogen comprises 78% of the earth’s atmosphere, primarily in the inert form, N, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. For this inert form to be used by a majority of living organisms, it must be transformed into reactive nitrogen, which is necessary for crops to thrive and meet their maximum production potential, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. When present in excess, reactive nitrogen has negative environmental effects and poses risks to human health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified these compounds as precursors for both ozone and fine particulate matter.Mass production of nitrogen-based fertilizers and burning of fossil fuels in the last century have resulted in massive amounts of reactive nitrogen compounds released into the environment, according to the press release.“Nitrogen is needed to grow food,” Galloway said, “but because of the inefficiencies of nitrogen uptake by plants and animals, only about 10[%] to 15[%] of reactive nitrogen ever enters a human mouth as food. The rest is lost to the environment and injected into the atmosphere by combustion.“A unique and troublesome aspect of nitrogen is that a single atom released to the environment can cause a cascading sequence of events, resulting ultimately in harm to the natural balance of our ecosystems and to our very health,” Galloway said.This “nitrogen cascade” can be exemplified by a nitrogen atom that starts as a smog-forming compound that is deposited in lakes and forests as nitric acid that can kill fish and insects, and when carried out to the coast, may contribute to dead zones and eventually be put back into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, the press release notes.Possible approaches to minimizing nitrogen use suggested by Galloway include optimizing its uptake by plants and animals, recovering and reusing nitrogen from manure and wastewater, and decreasing emissions from fossil-fuel combustion. Galloway seeks to create a “nitrogen footprint” calculator that can be accessed online. He said reducing nitrogen footprints can be accomplished by reducing energy consumption, traveling less, and changing diets to fish, less meat, and locally grown produce, the press release says.

 

Two papers recently published in magazine have drawn attention to the problem of excessive reactive nitrogen in the environment.In these papers, researchers from the University of Virginia (Charlottesville) discuss how food and energy production are causing reactive nitrogen to accumulate in soil, water, the atmosphere, and coastal oceanic waters, contributing to the greenhouse effect, smog, haze, acid rain, coastal dead zones, and stratospheric ozone depletion, according to a university press release.“We are accumulating reactive nitrogen in the environment at alarming rates, and this may prove to be as serious as putting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” said James Galloway, an environmental sciences professor at the university and lead author of one of the articles, “Transformation of the Nitrogen Cycle: Recent Trends, Questions, and Potential Solutions.” He also is co-author of the second article, “Impacts of Atmospheric Anthropogenic Nitrogen on the Open Ocean,” and founding chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative ().Nitrogen comprises 78% of the earth’s atmosphere, primarily in the inert form, N, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. For this inert form to be used by a majority of living organisms, it must be transformed into reactive nitrogen, which is necessary for crops to thrive and meet their maximum production potential, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. When present in excess, reactive nitrogen has negative environmental effects and poses risks to human health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified these compounds as precursors for both ozone and fine particulate matter.Mass production of nitrogen-based fertilizers and burning of fossil fuels in the last century have resulted in massive amounts of reactive nitrogen compounds released into the environment, according to the press release.“Nitrogen is needed to grow food,” Galloway said, “but because of the inefficiencies of nitrogen uptake by plants and animals, only about 10[%] to 15[%] of reactive nitrogen ever enters a human mouth as food. The rest is lost to the environment and injected into the atmosphere by combustion.“A unique and troublesome aspect of nitrogen is that a single atom released to the environment can cause a cascading sequence of events, resulting ultimately in harm to the natural balance of our ecosystems and to our very health,” Galloway said.This “nitrogen cascade” can be exemplified by a nitrogen atom that starts as a smog-forming compound that is deposited in lakes and forests as nitric acid that can kill fish and insects, and when carried out to the coast, may contribute to dead zones and eventually be put back into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, the press release notes.Possible approaches to minimizing nitrogen use suggested by Galloway include optimizing its uptake by plants and animals, recovering and reusing nitrogen from manure and wastewater, and decreasing emissions from fossil-fuel combustion. Galloway seeks to create a “nitrogen footprint” calculator that can be accessed online. He said reducing nitrogen footprints can be accomplished by reducing energy consumption, traveling less, and changing diets to fish, less meat, and locally grown produce, the press release says.

 

Two papers recently published in magazine have drawn attention to the problem of excessive reactive nitrogen in the environment.In these papers, researchers from the University of Virginia (Charlottesville) discuss how food and energy production are causing reactive nitrogen to accumulate in soil, water, the atmosphere, and coastal oceanic waters, contributing to the greenhouse effect, smog, haze, acid rain, coastal dead zones, and stratospheric ozone depletion, according to a university press release.“We are accumulating reactive nitrogen in the environment at alarming rates, and this may prove to be as serious as putting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” said James Galloway, an environmental sciences professor at the university and lead author of one of the articles, “Transformation of the Nitrogen Cycle: Recent Trends, Questions, and Potential Solutions.” He also is co-author of the second article, “Impacts of Atmospheric Anthropogenic Nitrogen on the Open Ocean,” and founding chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative ().Nitrogen comprises 78% of the earth’s atmosphere, primarily in the inert form, N, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. For this inert form to be used by a majority of living organisms, it must be transformed into reactive nitrogen, which is necessary for crops to thrive and meet their maximum production potential, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. When present in excess, reactive nitrogen has negative environmental effects and poses risks to human health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified these compounds as precursors for both ozone and fine particulate matter.Mass production of nitrogen-based fertilizers and burning of fossil fuels in the last century have resulted in massive amounts of reactive nitrogen compounds released into the environment, according to the press release.“Nitrogen is needed to grow food,” Galloway said, “but because of the inefficiencies of nitrogen uptake by plants and animals, only about 10[%] to 15[%] of reactive nitrogen ever enters a human mouth as food. The rest is lost to the environment and injected into the atmosphere by combustion.“A unique and troublesome aspect of nitrogen is that a single atom released to the environment can cause a cascading sequence of events, resulting ultimately in harm to the natural balance of our ecosystems and to our very health,” Galloway said.This “nitrogen cascade” can be exemplified by a nitrogen atom that starts as a smog-forming compound that is deposited in lakes and forests as nitric acid that can kill fish and insects, and when carried out to the coast, may contribute to dead zones and eventually be put back into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, the press release notes.Possible approaches to minimizing nitrogen use suggested by Galloway include optimizing its uptake by plants and animals, recovering and reusing nitrogen from manure and wastewater, and decreasing emissions from fossil-fuel combustion. Galloway seeks to create a “nitrogen footprint” calculator that can be accessed online. He said reducing nitrogen footprints can be accomplished by reducing energy consumption, traveling less, and changing diets to fish, less meat, and locally grown produce, the press release says.

 

Two papers recently published in magazine have drawn attention to the problem of excessive reactive nitrogen in the environment.In these papers, researchers from the University of Virginia (Charlottesville) discuss how food and energy production are causing reactive nitrogen to accumulate in soil, water, the atmosphere, and coastal oceanic waters, contributing to the greenhouse effect, smog, haze, acid rain, coastal dead zones, and stratospheric ozone depletion, according to a university press release.“We are accumulating reactive nitrogen in the environment at alarming rates, and this may prove to be as serious as putting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” said James Galloway, an environmental sciences professor at the university and lead author of one of the articles, “Transformation of the Nitrogen Cycle: Recent Trends, Questions, and Potential Solutions.” He also is co-author of the second article, “Impacts of Atmospheric Anthropogenic Nitrogen on the Open Ocean,” and founding chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative ().Nitrogen comprises 78% of the earth’s atmosphere, primarily in the inert form, N, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. For this inert form to be used by a majority of living organisms, it must be transformed into reactive nitrogen, which is necessary for crops to thrive and meet their maximum production potential, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. When present in excess, reactive nitrogen has negative environmental effects and poses risks to human health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified these compounds as precursors for both ozone and fine particulate matter.Mass production of nitrogen-based fertilizers and burning of fossil fuels in the last century have resulted in massive amounts of reactive nitrogen compounds released into the environment, according to the press release.“Nitrogen is needed to grow food,” Galloway said, “but because of the inefficiencies of nitrogen uptake by plants and animals, only about 10[%] to 15[%] of reactive nitrogen ever enters a human mouth as food. The rest is lost to the environment and injected into the atmosphere by combustion.“A unique and troublesome aspect of nitrogen is that a single atom released to the environment can cause a cascading sequence of events, resulting ultimately in harm to the natural balance of our ecosystems and to our very health,” Galloway said.This “nitrogen cascade” can be exemplified by a nitrogen atom that starts as a smog-forming compound that is deposited in lakes and forests as nitric acid that can kill fish and insects, and when carried out to the coast, may contribute to dead zones and eventually be put back into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, the press release notes.Possible approaches to minimizing nitrogen use suggested by Galloway include optimizing its uptake by plants and animals, recovering and reusing nitrogen from manure and wastewater, and decreasing emissions from fossil-fuel combustion. Galloway seeks to create a “nitrogen footprint” calculator that can be accessed online. He said reducing nitrogen footprints can be accomplished by reducing energy consumption, traveling less, and changing diets to fish, less meat, and locally grown produce, the press release says.

 

Two papers recently published in magazine have drawn attention to the problem of excessive reactive nitrogen in the environment.In these papers, researchers from the University of Virginia (Charlottesville) discuss how food and energy production are causing reactive nitrogen to accumulate in soil, water, the atmosphere, and coastal oceanic waters, contributing to the greenhouse effect, smog, haze, acid rain, coastal dead zones, and stratospheric ozone depletion, according to a university press release.“We are accumulating reactive nitrogen in the environment at alarming rates, and this may prove to be as serious as putting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” said James Galloway, an environmental sciences professor at the university and lead author of one of the articles, “Transformation of the Nitrogen Cycle: Recent Trends, Questions, and Potential Solutions.” He also is co-author of the second article, “Impacts of Atmospheric Anthropogenic Nitrogen on the Open Ocean,” and founding chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative ().Nitrogen comprises 78% of the earth’s atmosphere, primarily in the inert form, N, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. For this inert form to be used by a majority of living organisms, it must be transformed into reactive nitrogen, which is necessary for crops to thrive and meet their maximum production potential, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. When present in excess, reactive nitrogen has negative environmental effects and poses risks to human health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified these compounds as precursors for both ozone and fine particulate matter.Mass production of nitrogen-based fertilizers and burning of fossil fuels in the last century have resulted in massive amounts of reactive nitrogen compounds released into the environment, according to the press release.“Nitrogen is needed to grow food,” Galloway said, “but because of the inefficiencies of nitrogen uptake by plants and animals, only about 10[%] to 15[%] of reactive nitrogen ever enters a human mouth as food. The rest is lost to the environment and injected into the atmosphere by combustion.“A unique and troublesome aspect of nitrogen is that a single atom released to the environment can cause a cascading sequence of events, resulting ultimately in harm to the natural balance of our ecosystems and to our very health,” Galloway said.This “nitrogen cascade” can be exemplified by a nitrogen atom that starts as a smog-forming compound that is deposited in lakes and forests as nitric acid that can kill fish and insects, and when carried out to the coast, may contribute to dead zones and eventually be put back into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, the press release notes.Possible approaches to minimizing nitrogen use suggested by Galloway include optimizing its uptake by plants and animals, recovering and reusing nitrogen from manure and wastewater, and decreasing emissions from fossil-fuel combustion. Galloway seeks to create a “nitrogen footprint” calculator that can be accessed online. He said reducing nitrogen footprints can be accomplished by reducing energy consumption, traveling less, and changing diets to fish, less meat, and locally grown produce, the press release says.

 

Two papers recently published in magazine have drawn attention to the problem of excessive reactive nitrogen in the environment.In these papers, researchers from the University of Virginia (Charlottesville) discuss how food and energy production are causing reactive nitrogen to accumulate in soil, water, the atmosphere, and coastal oceanic waters, contributing to the greenhouse effect, smog, haze, acid rain, coastal dead zones, and stratospheric ozone depletion, according to a university press release.“We are accumulating reactive nitrogen in the environment at alarming rates, and this may prove to be as serious as putting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” said James Galloway, an environmental sciences professor at the university and lead author of one of the articles, “Transformation of the Nitrogen Cycle: Recent Trends, Questions, and Potential Solutions.” He also is co-author of the second article, “Impacts of Atmospheric Anthropogenic Nitrogen on the Open Ocean,” and founding chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative ().Nitrogen comprises 78% of the earth’s atmosphere, primarily in the inert form, N, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. For this inert form to be used by a majority of living organisms, it must be transformed into reactive nitrogen, which is necessary for crops to thrive and meet their maximum production potential, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. When present in excess, reactive nitrogen has negative environmental effects and poses risks to human health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified these compounds as precursors for both ozone and fine particulate matter.Mass production of nitrogen-based fertilizers and burning of fossil fuels in the last century have resulted in massive amounts of reactive nitrogen compounds released into the environment, according to the press release.“Nitrogen is needed to grow food,” Galloway said, “but because of the inefficiencies of nitrogen uptake by plants and animals, only about 10[%] to 15[%] of reactive nitrogen ever enters a human mouth as food. The rest is lost to the environment and injected into the atmosphere by combustion.“A unique and troublesome aspect of nitrogen is that a single atom released to the environment can cause a cascading sequence of events, resulting ultimately in harm to the natural balance of our ecosystems and to our very health,” Galloway said.This “nitrogen cascade” can be exemplified by a nitrogen atom that starts as a smog-forming compound that is deposited in lakes and forests as nitric acid that can kill fish and insects, and when carried out to the coast, may contribute to dead zones and eventually be put back into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, the press release notes.Possible approaches to minimizing nitrogen use suggested by Galloway include optimizing its uptake by plants and animals, recovering and reusing nitrogen from manure and wastewater, and decreasing emissions from fossil-fuel combustion. Galloway seeks to create a “nitrogen footprint” calculator that can be accessed online. He said reducing nitrogen footprints can be accomplished by reducing energy consumption, traveling less, and changing diets to fish, less meat, and locally grown produce, the press release says.