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Land and Waste Management Research

Nitrogen Management

Water body filled with algae

When nitrogen is released in to the environment, it can create harmful effects including eutrophication, the overload of nutrients, hypoxia or “dead zones” of low oxygen, toxic algal blooms, acid rain, nitrogen saturation in forests, contributions to climate change, and human health effects due to contamination of drinking water and air pollution. EPA research is providing the scientific basis for the management of nitrogen by identifying strategic and efficient options to reduce its most damaging effects while maintaining the benefits of nitrogen use.

The research uses both existing and new analyses about the sources of nitrogen; its distribution in air, land and water; and its impacts on valuable ecosystem services.

Contributing research:

  • National-scale maps that show nitrogen loading to the U.S. from sources including fertilizer, agricultural fixation, air deposition, manure, wastewater, and industry, including estimates of uncertainties associated with these nitrogen loads.
  • A report to inform EPA’s review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) provides estimates of critical nitrogen deposition loads, sensitive ecosystems and connections to ecosystem services.
  • New national scenarios for the Community Multi-scale Air Quality (CMAQ) model based on EPA’s new air rules.
  • Report on sustainability and efficiency in nitrogen cycle interventions.
  • Local-scale products include N-Sink, a simple geo-spatial tool designed for watershed managers that will enable them to describe sources and sinks of nitrogen within a watershed and a web tool that provides local estimates of nutrient inputs.


Nutrients Management Research
Integrated Management of Nitrogen

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