A new study has found out that vehicles, not agriculture, is the main source of urban airborne ammonia or NH3. This NH3 forms small particles that causes air pollution and harm human health. The COVID-19 lockdown has given the researchers an opportunity to study driving and its impact on environment. They have thoroughly studied the satellite data of Los Angeles to find out the details.
In the atmosphere, NH3 turns itself into small particles of inorganic compounds such as ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate. Before this research it was assumed that livestock manure in agricultural fields produce the most NH3.
But vehicles have catalytic converters or selective catalytic reduction system and this system has been introduced to reduce the emission of nitrogen oxide (NOx). But this system has the side-effect of producing undesirable ammonia.
Agriculture and traffic both emit huge amounts of ammonia in the atmosphere. But this is the first-time researchers have used satellite data to find out which one is the main culprit to the environment.
The team of researchers focused on two main pollutants NH3 and NO2. Because the main source of NO2 in Los Angles was vehicles. Then they correlated the concentrations of the two pollutants and find out that vehicles emit 60% to 84% of total NH3 in the air of Los Angles.
Researchers are hopeful that their findings will help to control vehicle-related ammonia which has been under-recognized and uncontrolled in the past.