Ammonia is a common naturally occurring substance in small amount in the atmosphere. In its pure state and under usual environmental conditions, ammonia exists as a colourless, pungent-smelling gas. Under high pressure, ammonia can be stored as a liquid. It is highly soluble in water and it reacts with acids to form ammonium salts.
Common name: Ammonia gas, aqueous ammonia, NH3 or ammonium hydroxide.
Ammonia is commonly used as fertiliser, but also for bleaching and cleaning. It is used in many industrial processes including the production of fertilisers, plastics, pharmaceuticals, explosives and rubber.
Releases to the environment
The majority of ammonia released to the atmosphere comes from animal husbandry and the animal excreta. Smaller man-made sources of release of ammonia include the use of fertiliser and decomposition of vegetation and waste, as well as some industrial processes.
Impacts on the environment and human health
High concentrations of ammonia in the atmosphere can harm sensitive types of nature. Ammonia is very toxic to aquatic organisms. Other local air impacts are likely to be restricted to odour issues and at high concentrations ammonia is an irritant to eyes, nose and throat when there is direct contact.
Ammonia is controlled by the Gothenburg Protocol under the Geneva Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution and the EU NEC (National Emission Ceiling) directive especially on sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and ammonia. Furthermore ammonia is on the EU-Commissions EPER list and listed in the PRTR Protocol under the Århus Convention.
CAS NO: 7664-41-7.