What you are probably referring to are NOx compounds. These compounds contain a nitrogen atom and one or more oxygen atoms. They are generally gasses and are of concern when talking about global warming. These gasses are one of the things monitored in auto emissions and have been linked to things from asthma to acid rain. You can read more about the environmental impacts of NOx gasses here. http://www.cleanairsys.com/emissions/nox/index.htm
However, nitrogen, the atom or molecule, is not necessarily bad. We need nitrogen fixation by bacteria or through fertilizers to grow our crops. Our atmosphere is made up of approximately 28% N2, and as life forms, we need nitrogen atoms to make things like DNA and proteins.
I would also like to add that I agree nitrogen is not in itself dangerous for the environment. It is the amount of nitrogen that is contained in “run-off” from farming. This creates such oddities as the “dead zone” off the Mississippie River delta. This nitrogen causes blooms of bacteria in water that depletes oxygen resources for other animals, such as fish.
Nitrogen is an essential part of life. Plants, animals and bacteria all use nitrogen in fundamental building blocks called amino acids, and are used together to make proteins. Without nitrogen we would not be able to grown and function properly. The problem lies in the amount of nitrogen is the amount that is in the atmosphere. Large – scale burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil released high levels of nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere. Also with deforestation increasing every year, there aren’t enough plants to to take out the nitrogen from the atmosphere. Whenever large amounts of nitrous oxide reaches the stratosphere, it helps destroy the ozone layer. This could lead to potentially dangerous levels of exposure to UV radiation, which can cause cancer.
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