Nitrogen budgets in Japan from 2000 to 2015: Decreasing trend of nitrogen loss to the environment and the challenge to further reduce nitrogen waste

Kentaro Hayashi, Hideaki Shibata, Azusa Oita, Kazuya Nishina, Akihiko Ito, Kiwamu Katagiri, Junko Shindo, Wilfried Winiwarter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The benefits of the artificial fixation of reactive nitrogen (Nr, nitrogen [N] compounds other than dinitrogen), in the form of N fertilizers and materials are huge, while at the same time posing substantial threats to human and ecosystem health by the release of Nr to the environment. To achieve sustainable N use, Nr loss to the environment must be reduced. An N-budget approach at the national level would allow us to fully grasp the whole picture of Nr loss to the environment through the quantification of important N flows in the country. In this study, the N budgets in Japan were estimated from 2000 to 2015 using available statistics, datasets, and literature. The net N inflow to Japanese human sectors in 2010 was 6180 Gg N yr−1 in total. With 420 Gg N yr−1 accumulating in human settlements, 5760 Gg N yr−1 was released from the human sector, of which 1960 Gg N yr−1 was lost to the environment as Nr (64% to air and 36% to waters), and the remainder assumed as dinitrogen. Nr loss decreased in both atmospheric emissions and loss to terrestrial water over time. The distinct reduction in the atmospheric emissions of nitrogen oxides from transportation, at −4.3% yr−1, was attributed to both emission controls and a decrease in energy consumption. Reductions in runoff and leaching from land as well as the discharge of treated water were found, at −1.0% yr−1 for both. The aging of Japan's population coincided with the reductions in the per capita supply and consumption of food and energy. Future challenges for Japan lie in further reducing N waste and adapting its N flows in international trade to adopt more sustainable options considering the reduced demand due to the aging population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117559
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Volume286
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct 1

Keywords

  • Nitrogen balance
  • Nitrogen flow
  • Pollution control
  • Population aging
  • Reactive nitrogen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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