, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 319-346

Emission of aliphatic amines from animal husbandry and their reactions: Potential source of N2O and HCN

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We measured the emissions of volatile aliphatic amines and ammonia produced by the manure of beef cattle, dairy cows, swine, laying hens and horses in livestock buildings. The amine emissions consisted almost exclusively of the three methylamines and correlated with those of ammonia. The molar emission ratios of the methylamines to ammonia, and data on NH3 emissions from animal husbandry in Europe, together with global statistics on domestic animals, were used to estimate the global emissions of amines. Annual global methylamine-N input to the atmosphere from animal husbandry in 1988 was 0.15±0.06 TgN (Tg=1012 g). Almost 3/4 of these emissions consisted of trimethylamine-N. This represents about half of all methylamine emissions to the atmosphere. Other sources are marine coastal waters and biomass burning.

Possible reaction pathways for atmospheric methylamines are shown. Among various speculative but possible products N2O and HCN are of interest because the emission of methylamines could contribute to the global budgets of these compounds. Maximum atmospheric N2O production from methylamines are below 0.4 Tg N/year, which is less than 10% of the annual N2O growth rate. Although we do not expect the methylamine emissions to contribute in a major way to the atmospheric N2O budget, more studies are needed to establish this conclusion beyond doubt. Similar conclusions hold for HCN.