Rising ammonia emissions attributed to cars, not livestock

August 20, 2000

Reformulated gasoline and catalytic conventers also may contribute

Washington D.C., August 20 -- Researchers presented evidence here today that cars may be the main source of haze-inducing ammonia, rather than livestock, as previously thought. The findings were presented at the 220th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

In a study of 4,500 vehicles conducted on a southern California freeway ramp, researchers found unexpectedly high levels of ammonia in the exhaust of gasoline-powered cars. The levels were so high they estimate that cars are adding twice as much ammonia to the air of California's southern coastal basin as livestock do.

Ammonia plays a role in the formation of very small airborne particles, sometimes called "particulate matter." The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently targeted such particles for regulation under Clean Air Act standards on the grounds that they endanger human health. Opposition to EPA's proposed regulation led to a lawsuit that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear this term.

Until now, scientists believed that decomposition of livestock waste was the main source of atmospheric ammonia, according to Marc Baum, senior scientist at the Oak Crest Institute of Science and principal investigator for the study.

Some theorize that reformulated gasoline, introduced in the mid-1990s to lower sulfur and other emissions, has contributed to the increase in ammonia levels, Baum said. A recent study in the Aug. 15 issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology, also published by ACS, reported that catalytic converters may play a role in rising ammonia emissions as well.

The evidence collected by Baum and his colleagues also suggests that a small share of the vehicles in the study produced most of the pollution. They found that 70 percent of the vehicles had detectable ammonia emissions, but just 10 percent generated 66 percent of the total emissions, according to Baum.

Using a measuring technique called remote sensing, the research team collected information on ammonia emissions on a car-by-car basis. This information, along with snapshots of the cars' license plates, enabled them to pinpoint the make and model of vehicles responsible for the elevated ammonia levels, Baum said.

Aside from cars and dairy farms, major sources of ammonia emissions include fertilizers and sewage treatment plants.

Although Baum's findings are based on cars in southern California, they "raise questions as to what ammonia emissions from on-road vehicles are nationwide," he said.
-end-
The paper on this research, FUEL 1, will be presented at 9:15 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 20, in the Washington Convention Center, rooms 4-5.

Marc Baum, PhD., is a senior scientist at the Oak Crest Institute of Science, Baldwin Park, Calif.

A nonprofit organization with a membership of 161,000 chemists and chemical engineers, the American Chemical Society publishes scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences, and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

American Chemical Society

Related Emissions Articles from Brightsurf:

Multinationals' supply chains account for a fifth of global emissions
A fifth of carbon dioxide emissions come from multinational companies' global supply chains, according to a new study led by UCL and Tianjin University that shows the scope of multinationals' influence on climate change.

A new way of modulating color emissions from transparent films
Transparent luminescent materials have several applications; but so far, few multicolor light-emitting solid transparent materials exist in which the color of emission is tunable.

Can sunlight convert emissions into useful materials?
A team of researchers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering has designed a method to break CO2 apart and convert the greenhouse gas into useful materials like fuels or consumer products ranging from pharmaceuticals to polymers.

Methane: emissions increase and it's not a good news
It is the second greenhouse gas with even a global warming potential larger than CO2.

Tracking fossil fuel emissions with carbon-14
Researchers from NOAA and the University of Colorado have devised a breakthrough method for estimating national emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels using ambient air samples and a well-known isotope of carbon that scientists have relied on for decades to date archaeological sites.

COVID-19 puts brakes on global emissions
Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel sources reached a maximum daily decline of 17 per cent in April as a result of drastic decline in energy demand that have occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Egregious emissions
Call them 'super polluters' -- the handful of industrial facilities that emit unusually high levels of toxic chemical pollution year after year.

Continued CO2 emissions will impair cognition
New CU Boulder research finds that an anticipated rise in carbon dioxide concentrations in our indoor living and working spaces by the year 2100 could lead to impaired human cognition.

Capturing CO2 from trucks and reducing their emissions by 90%
Researchers at EPFL have patented a new concept that could cut trucks' CO2 emissions by almost 90%.

Big trucks, little emissions
Researchers reveal a new integrated, cost-efficient way of converting ethanol for fuel blends that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Read More: Emissions News and Emissions Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.