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March 1 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm


Recent research highlights a concerning projection for global river sub-basins, anticipating severe clean water scarcity due to nitrogen pollution by 2050. Nitrogen pollution, primarily from nitrogen-based fertilizers and industrial processes, poses significant threats to water bodies and ecosystems.

What is Nitrogen Pollution?


  • Nitrogen pollution refers to the excessive presence of nitrogen compounds in water bodies, primarily rivers and lakes.
  • Annually, 200 million tonnes of reactive nitrogen, 80% of the total, is lost to the environment, largely due to human activities.

Drivers of Nitrogen Pollution:

  • Rising consumption of nitrogen-based fertilizers, doubling globally between 1978 and 2014, is a major contributor.
  • Human-produced reactive nitrogen now surpasses that generated through natural processes.

Sources of Nitrogen Pollution:

  • Agricultural Activities: Increased use of nitrogen-based fertilizers leads to leaching into groundwater and runoff into surface water bodies.
  • Industrial Processes:
  • Manufacturing nitrogen-based chemicals and fertilizers releases nitrogen compounds into the environment.
  • Combustion of fossil fuels in industries emits nitrogen oxides (NOx) into the atmosphere.
  • Livestock Farming: Livestock waste, rich in nitrogen compounds, contributes to contamination when not managed properly.
  • Biomass Burning: Wildfires and burning of biomass release nitrogen oxides (NOx) and nitrous oxide (N2O) into the atmosphere.

Major Impacts of Nitrogen Pollution:

  • Eutrophication: Excess nitrogen acts as a nutrient, causing algal blooming and leading to oxygen-depleted dead zones in water bodies.
  • Human Health Impacts: Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air exacerbates respiratory conditions, and nitrate contamination of drinking water poses health risks.
  • Ozone Depletion: Nitrous oxide (N2O) contributes to stratospheric ozone layer depletion, raising health risks and harming ecosystems.

Related Government Initiatives:

  • Bharat Stage (BS VI) Emission Standards: Stricter emission standards aim to curb nitrogen oxides and particulate matter release from vehicles and industries.
  • Nutrient-Based Subsidy (NBS): Incentivizes the use of controlled-release fertilizers for efficient nutrient management.
  • Soil Health Cards: Provides farmers with soil nutrient status and tailored fertilizer recommendations for balanced nutrient application.
  • Nano Urea: A patented fertilizer, reducing unbalanced urea use and enhancing crop productivity.

Way Forward:

  • Sustainable Agricultural Practices: Implementing precision agriculture and cover cropping can minimize fertilizer use and reduce pollution.
  • Improved Wastewater Treatment: Upgrading wastewater treatment infrastructure prevents nitrogen-rich compounds from entering water bodies.
  • Incentivizing Green Infrastructure: Offering incentives for green infrastructure projects helps absorb and filter stormwater, mitigating nitrogen runoff.
  • Enhancing Public Awareness: Raising awareness about responsible water and nitrogen management promotes sustainable practices and reduces pollution.

Mains Question:

  1. Discuss the impact of rising nitrogen pollution on global river sub-basins and its implications for water scarcity by 2050. (150 WORDS)


March 1
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category:
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