Nitrogen footprints: past, present and future

Research Paper
Author:Galloway, James, Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of Virginia ORCID icon

The human alteration of the nitrogen cycle has evolved from minimal in the mid-19th century to extensive in the present time. The consequences to human and environmental health are significant. While much attention has been given to the extent and impacts of the alteration, little attention has been given to those entities (i.e., consumers, institutions) that use the resources that result in extensive reactive nitrogen (Nr) creation. One strategy for assessment is the use of nitrogen footprint tools. A nitrogen footprint is generally defined as the total amount of Nr released to the environment as a result of an entity’s consumption patterns. This paper reviews a number of nitrogen footprint tools (N-Calculator, N-Institution, N-Label, N-Neutrality, N-Indicator) that are designed to provide that attention. It reviews N-footprint tools for consumers as a function of the country that they live in (N-Calculator, N-Indicator) and the products they buy (N-Label), for the institutions that people work in and are educated in (N-Institution), and for events and decision-making regarding offsets (N-Neutrality). N footprint tools provide a framework for people to make decisions about their resource use and show them how offsets can be coupled with behavior change to decrease consumer/institution contributions to N-related problems.

University of Virginia
Published Date:
July 06, 2017
Sponsoring Agency:
University of Virginia Open Access Fund