Nitrogen itself naturally makes up 78% of Earth’s atmosphere. It is nitrogen compounds that are a problem. Nitrogen compounds come from ammonia, industrial chemicals and vehicle emissions, and is harmful for humans.
Good question, Gitana. Nitrogen is actually all around us, and is a very important aspect of life. When the natural balance of nitrogen is screwed up by human intervention, however, high nitrogen levels can be harmful to the environment. If enough nitrogen gets into salt waters, it can lead to eutrophication. This is when certain algae flourish, keeping sunlight from reaching plants below. If the plants can’t grow, it disrupts the ecosystem in the waters.
Hope this helps!
I agree with bwsf above. Nitrous oxide, for instance, an oxidized nitrogen compound, is a contributing greenhouse gas in global warming. Also, nitrate fertilizers (commonly used in the later part of the 1900s and still in use today) are picked up by water runoff and end up contaminating larger bodies of water. Elevated levels of nitrogen in water can lead to algal blooms and subsequent eutrophication of water ecosystems.
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