Examination of Different Approaches to Estimating Ammonia Emissions from Poultry Operations

John Sherwell1, Anand Yegnan2, Surya Ramaswamy2 and Mark Garrison2

Anthropogenic emissions of ammonia (NH3) have the potential to contribute to nutrient loading in sensitive estuaries and coastal waters such as the Chesapeake Bay, both directly and indirectly since NH3 can combine in the atmosphere with nitrates (NO3) that are formed from the emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from power plant and other combustion sources to form particulate nitrate. Particulate nitrate, in turn, makes up a significant part of the airborne nitrogen load to the Bay through deposition processes. NH3 can also combine (preferentially) with sulfates to form ammonium sulfate (NH4)2SO4. The aerosols formed in this manner can play a significant role in ambient concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5). This paper provides a critical look at different emissions estimation techniques for NH3 from poultry operations, particularly in the area surrounding the Chesapeake Bay, and at the range of emissions predicted by different techniques. Estimates that are not representative of actual non-point source NH3 emissions could significantly affect our understanding of these atmospheric transformations, and significantly affect our ability to estimate atmospheric contribution to nitrogen loading and PM2.5 concentrations. The paper summarizes the findings and points to the need to better understand emissions from these types of sources.

1 Maryland Power Plant Research Program (PPRP), 580 Taylor Ave., Tawes State Office Building, Annapolis, MD 21401, Telephone:(410) 260-8667, Email:
2 ERM, 350 Eagleview Blvd, Exton, PA 19341