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Swiss journal of hydrology

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 71–86 | Cite as

The role of external ammonium inputs in freshwater acidification

  • J. A. A. R. Schuurkes
  • R. Mosello
Article

Abstract

Gaseous ammonia released into the atmosphere from animal manure, fertilizer and industrial processes, neutralizes acid oxidation products of sulphur and nitrogen oxides in precipitation. This results in a substantial increase in pH of precipitation. Once deposited in soil or water, the ammonium compounds may be oxidized to nitric acid. This means that hydrogen ions neutralized in the atmosphere are now released. This paper concerns bulk precipitation sampled at some selected northern Italian and Dutch sites, representing areas with different regional industrial and agricultural impact. In addition the role of external loads of ammonium in freshwater acidification is discussed considering an ammonium sulphate polluted subalpine lake in northern Italy and the results of experimentla studies on susceptible soft water systems in The Netherlands. In these cases the acidifying effect of biochemical ammonium conversions, particularly ammonium oxidation, was evident, reaching pH values below 4. Regarding the deleterious chemical and ecological effects, a reduction in the emission of gaseous ammonia is programmed for The Netherlands. In the Alpine region atmospheric ammonia and ammonium also constitute a threat for sensitive ecosystems.

Keywords

Ammonium Sulphate Ammonium Oxidation Gaseous Ammonia Ammonium Compound Soft Water 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Zusammenfassung

Gasförmiges Ammoniak, das durch tierische Abgänge, Düngemittel und industrielle Prozesse in die Atmosphäre gelangt, neutralisiert saure Oxidationsprodukte von Schwefel-und Stickoxiden im Niederschlag. Dies führt zu einer erheblichen Erhöhung des pH-Wertes in den Niederschlägen. Sobald Ammoniumverbindungen in Boden oder Wasser gelangen, können sie zu Salpetersäure umgewandelt werden, wobei Wasserstoffionen freiwerden.

Die Chemie der Niederschläge in einigen ausgewählten und unterschiedlich belasteten norditalienischen und holländischen Regionen wird behandelt. In den Niederlanden wie auch in der subalpinen Region Italiens einschließlich der Poebene ist die atmosphärische Belastung durch Ammoniumionen hoch.

Die Bedeutung der externen Ammoniumbelastung für die Azidifizierung von Süßwasser wird anhand eines durch Ammoniumsulphat hoch belasteten subalpinen Sees in Norditalien sowie experimentelle Studien an gefährdeten Süßwassersystemen mit geringer Pufferkapazität in de Niederlanden diskutiert. In diesen Fällen ist die durch biochemische Umwandlung des Ammoniumions, besonders durch Oxidation, verursachte Azidifizierung erheblich, mit pH-Werten ≤4.

Die Wichtigkeit des Ammoniaks und Ammoniumions als Azidifizierung verursachende Verbindungen wurde in den Niederlanden erkannt, und eine Verringerung der Emissionen ist geplant. Es wird ausdrücklich darauf hingewiesen, daß diese atmosphärischen Schadstoffe auch für die Alpenregion eine Bedrohung darstellen.

Résumé

L'ammonium gazeux cédé a l'atmosphère par l'engrais animal, par les fertilisants et par les procédés industriels neutralise les produits acides de l'oxydation du soufre et les oxydes de l'azote dans les précipitations. Cela provoque une augmentation remarquable de la valeur pH des précipitations. Une fois déposés sur le terrain ou dans les eaux les composés de l'ammonium peuvent être transformés en acide nitrique, et les ions d'hydrogène, neutralisés dans l'atmosphère, sont liberés.

Cet article considère la chimie des précipitations sèches et humides cumulées («bulk») dans une série de localités, en Italie du Nord et en Hollande, qui représentent des aires avec un impact industriel et agricole différent selon les régions choisies. Soît en Hollande soît dans le régions subalpines de l'Italie et dans la vallée du Po la déposition atmosphérique d'ammonium est élevée. On discute le rôle des charges externes d'ammonium dans l'acidification des eaux douces en considerant le cas d'un lac subalpin de l'Italie du Nord pollué par le sulfate d'ammonium et les recherches experimentales sur des systèmes d'eaux très douces particulièrement sensibles, en Hollande. Dans tous ces cas l'effet de l'acidification due aux transformations biochimiques de l'ammonium, et en particulier à l'oxydation de l'ammonium, e été mis bien en évidence par l'abaissement du pH jusqu'à des valeurs inférieures à 4.

L'importance de l'ammoniaque et de l'ammonium dans les procès d'acidification a été reconnue en Hollande, où un programme de réduction des émissions a déjà été mis à point. On souligne que ces polluants atmosphériques constituent une menace aussi pour les Alpines.

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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. A. A. R. Schuurkes
    • 1
  • R. Mosello
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Aquatic EcologyCatholic UniversityNijmegenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.C. N. R. Istituto Italiano di IdrobiologiaPallanzaItaly

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