Hidden Cost of US Agricultural Exports: Particulate Matter from Ammonia Emissions


Paulot, Fabien, and Daniel J Jacob. “Hidden Cost of US Agricultural Exports: Particulate Matter from Ammonia Emissions”. Environ. Sci. Technol. 48 (2014): , 48, 903–908. Web.






We use a model of agricultural sources of ammonia ({NH3)} coupled to a chemical transport model to estimate the impact of {U.S.} food export on particulate matter concentrations ({PM2.5).} We find that food export accounts for 11% of total {U.S.} {NH3} emissions (13% of agricultural emissions) and that it increases the population-weighted exposure of the {U.S.} population to {PM2.5} by 0.36 ?g m?3 on average. Our estimate is sensitive to the proper representation of the impact of {NH3} on ammonium nitrate, which reflects the interplay between agricultural ({NH3)} and combustion emissions ({NO}, {SO2).} Eliminating {NH3} emissions from food export would achieve greater health benefits than the reduction of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for {PM2.5} from 15 to 12 ?g m?3. Valuation of the increased premature mortality associated with {PM2.5} from food export (36 billion {US\$} (2006) per year) amounts to 50% of the gross food export value. Livestock operations in densely populated areas have particularly large health costs. Decreasing {SO2} and {NOx} emissions will indirectly reduce health impact of food export as an ancillary benefit.

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Last updated on 03/12/2015