From Dr. Mercola:
Air pollution is a significant health risk linked to the deaths of 3 million people annually.1 According to the World Health Organization (WHO), of the cities that monitor air pollution, 80 percent have air quality that surpasses the minimum standards set by WHO.
Over the past two years, the database of cities that monitor pollution has nearly doubled. The increasing air pollution is linked to heart disease, lung cancer and acute and chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma.
Particulate matter floating in the air at sizes smaller than the human eye can see gets inhaled deep into your lung tissue, triggering an inflammatory response and leading to health problems. It is both the particle and the composition of the particle that leads to health conditions and early death.
Single Biggest Cause of Air Pollution
The No. 1 cause of air pollution in much of the U.S., China, Russia and Europe today is linked to farming and fertilizer — specifically to the nitrogen component of fertilizer used to supposedly enrich the soil and grow bigger crops.2
A new study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, demonstrated that emissions from farming far outweighs other sources of particulate matter air pollution.3 As nitrogen fertilizers break down into their component parts, ammonia is released into the air.
Ammonia is one of the byproducts of fertilizer and of animal waste. When the ammonia in the atmosphere reaches industrial areas, it combines with pollution from diesel and petroleum combustion, creating micro-particles.
Members of Parliament in the U.K. have called for taking diesel cars off the road and not allowing vehicles producing large amounts of emissions to travel in larger cities.
While these recommendations address one part of the equation, the pollution from combustion engines, Parliament has not addressed the much greater problems of pollution from agricultural concerns.
This may be in part because the issue is so difficult to tackle without making major changes to industrial agriculture.
Pollution from the combination of ammonia and combustion is diffuse, traveling long distances across county and country borders. Reducing the amount of industrial pollution is the preliminary means both the U.K. and the U.S are using to address this issue.
Over the past decades, the soil in many areas of the country has been depleted of rich carbon sources necessary to grow healthy plants.4 The result has been the use of nitrogen-rich fertilizers, contributing to air pollution and the loss of carbon from the soil.
At a very steady and alarming rate, industrial agricultural methods have been depleting the soil of rich nutrients and resources, faster than they can be replenished. At the current rate, some scientists are concerned that soil erosion will present a huge risk in the next 10 years.5,6
The paper’s lead author and University of California Berkeley professor of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, Ronald Amundson, Ph.D., says:
“Ever since humans developed agriculture, we’ve been transforming the planet and throwing the soil’s nutrient cycle out