China’s ozone layer problem

You thought we are on top of the ozone layer problem?

China’s emissions of nitrous oxide – a potent greenhouse gas and ozone-depleting chemical – will more than triple by 2020 if China’s chemical industry does nothing to control them, according to a new study reported by Environmental Health News.

China’s nitrous oxide emissions will likely reach five times that of the United States. Industrial Nitrous oxide emissions come from the making of nitric acid, used to make fertilizers, and adipic acid, used to make fibers, like nylon and other synthetic products. China is one of the biggest producers of those two chemicals. Between 1990 and 2012, China’s nitrous oxide industrial emissions rose 37-fold. But that accounts for only 10 percent of China’s total nitrous oxides. More importantly, agriculture contributes 80 percent, (nitrous oxide is emitted when people add synthetic fertilizers to the soil and during the breakdown of nitrogen in livestock manure and urine).

Burning of fossil fuels also contribute. China’s power plants add another 9 percent to the total emissions of the country. The available technologies to capture and break down nitrous oxide from the manufacture of chemicals require electricity. Burning coal to generate electricity may in turn add more of nitrous oxide. Reduction of nitrous oxide emissions is also necessary in the agricultural sector. Nitrous oxide is considered as the third largest greenhouse gas contributor. It is also the largest source of chemicals that deplete the ozone layer, which shields plants, animals and people from the sun’s UV rays.

Read more: Environmental Health News report