An element found in the air and in all plant and animal tissues. For many crops, nitrogen fertilizer is essential for economic yields. However, nitrogen can also be a pollutant when nitrogen compounds are mobilized in the environment (e.g., leach from fertilized or manured fields), are discharged from septic tanks or feedlots, volatilize to the air, or are emitted from combustion engines. As pollutants, nitrogen compounds can have adverse health effects (see nitrate and air pollution) and contribute to degradation of waters (see eutrophication).
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