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03 04 2017 01

Vehicle tailpipes are a more important source of ammonia’s contribution to urban air pollution than is agriculture, according to a study by researchers from the US and China. The paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Atmospheric ammonia (NH3) reacts with nitric and sulfuric acids to form nitrate and sulfate aerosols, a key component of fine particulate matter (PM2.5). About 80% of airborne ammonia comes from farming practices such as fertilization, so it seems a likely suspect for the ammonia in haze particles to come from plumes of large farms and then be transported to urban centers. Instead, the research team found that ammonia emissions from cities are much larger than recognized, occur at the very times when unhealthy particulate matter is at its worst, and when agricultural emissions are at daily or seasonal lows.

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