Title: Nitrogen as a threat to European water quality
Authors: GRIZZETTI BrunaBOURAOUI FaycalBILLEN GillesVAN GRINSVEN HansCARDOSO AnaTHIEU VINCENTGARNIER JosetteCURTIS ChrisHOWARTH ROBERT W.JOHNES Penny
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication Year: 2011
JRC Publication N°: JRC57851
ISBN: 978-1-107-00612-6
URI: http://www.nine-esf.org/ENA-Book
http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC57851
Type: Articles in books
Abstract: Anthropogenic increase of nitrogen in water poses direct threats to human health and aquatic ecosystems. High nitrogen concentrations in drinking water are dangerous for human health. In aquatic ecosystems the nitrogen enrichment contributes to eutrophication, which is responsible for toxic algal blooms, water anoxia, fish kills and habitat and biodiversity loss. Nitrogen concentrations in European rivers, lakes, aquifers and coastal waters are generally high in many regions. In addition, nitrogen is probably accumulating in groundwaters, reducing the future reliability of the resource. In Europe, nitrogen pressures on water are wide spread, resulting in elevated costs. About 40% of the European population would potentially be exposed to high nitrates values in drinking water if adequate treatment was not in place, and a large proportion of European aquatic ecosystems is eutrophicated or at risk of eutrophication. Even under favourable land use scenarios the nitrogen export to European waters and seas is likely to remain significant in the near future. The effects of climate change on nitrogen export to waters are still unsure. Policy tools are available within the European Union and under international conventions to mitigate against nitrogen pollution in water, but their full implementation has not yet been achieved throughout Europe. In many cases a delay in the water quality response to implementation of management measures have been observed, due to historical nitrogen accumulation in soils, sediments or aquifers or to inadequate design of the mitigation plans. The issue of pollution swapping between environmental compartments has appeared as an important element to be considered by both the scientific and policy prospective. To support the sustainable management of water resources, positive effects could be obtained implementing existing policy tools, improving the integration in sectoral policies and promoting the interactions between science and policy.
JRC Institute:Institute for Environment and Sustainability

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