Ammonia emissions

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Ammonia (NH3) is a colourless gas with a noticeable odour at high concentrations. It can be poisonous if inhaled in great quantities and is irritating to the eyes, nose, and throat. It can also contribute to the nitrification and eutrophication of aquatic systems. In the air, the gas combines with sulphates and nitrates to form secondary fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

Key results

  • In 2015, NH3 emissions were 485 kilotonnes (kt). This is 22% higher than in 1990.
  • Agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer) was the main source of NH3 emissions in 2015. Emissions from this source accounted for more than 90% (455 kt) of total national emissions.

Total ammonia emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2015

Stacked column chart showing ammonia emissions by source. Long description below.
Long description

The stacked column chart shows total ammonia emissions in Canada by source (agriculture [livestock, crop production and fertilizer], manufacturing, other sources and transportation [road, rail, air and marine]) for the years 1990 to 2015. The emissions are reported in kilotonnes.

Data for this chart
Total ammonia emissions by source, Canada, 1990 to 2015
Year Agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer) (emissions in kilotonnes) Manufacturing (emissions in kilotonnes) Other sources (emissions in kilotonnes) Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) (emissions in kilotonnes) Total national emissions (emissions in kilotonnes)
1990 358.2 20.0 14.3 5.5 398.0
1991 355.9 19.1 14.3 5.8 395.1
1992 368.1 19.0 14.2 6.3 407.7
1993 371.1 18.5 15.0 7.3 411.9
1994 383.5 20.0 15.1 8.1 426.6
1995 402.2 19.0 14.8 8.5 444.6
1996 417.6 20.7 14.6 9.1 462.0
1997 424.1 20.9 14.8 9.9 469.6
1998 424.5 20.8 14.9 10.6 470.8
1999 423.4 21.5 14.5 11.3 470.6
2000 434.0 23.2 15.1 11.5 483.7
2001 438.8 19.9 14.4 11.9 484.9
2002 442.8 21.7 21.9 11.5 497.9
2003 449.2 17.7 13.3 11.2 491.4
2004 464.1 17.6 12.4 11.0 505.1
2005 461.4 17.0 13.4 10.6 502.4
2006 453.8 16.1 11.8 10.0 491.8
2007 457.8 16.1 10.9 9.7 494.4
2008 448.6 13.6 12.2 9.1 483.4
2009 435.4 12.6 11.9 8.6 468.5
2010 428.9 11.5 12.7 8.4 461.5
2011 427.6 11.8 12.3 8.0 459.7
2012 444.0 12.0 11.5 7.6 475.0
2013 457.3 11.3 12.5 7.5 488.7
2014 452.2 11.4 12.9 7.1 483.6
2015 454.9 11.7 11.7 6.9 485.2

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator reports air pollutant emissions from human activities only. The category "other sources" includes emissions from incineration and waste, the oil and gas industry, home firewood burning, ore and mineral industries, electric utilities, building heating and energy generation, off-road vehicles and mobile equipment, dust and fires, paints and solvents, and other miscellaneous sources. Consult Table 1 in the Data sources and methods for a complete list of the air pollutant emissions sources included under each category.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2017) Air Pollutant Emission Inventory.

More information

Between 1990 and 2015, agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer) experienced the largest increase (27% or 97 kt) in NH3 emissions. It also remained the key source of NH3 emissions throughout that period. Emissions from manufacturing and other sources each represented 2% (12 kt) of national emissions in 2015. Transportation (road, rail, air and marine) followed representing 1% (7 kt) of national emissions.

The growth in NH3 emissions from agriculture (livestock, crop production and fertilizer) between 1990 and 2015 is mainly due to the increased use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers and, up to 2005, larger livestock populations.

Ammonia emissions by province and territory

Key results

  • In 2015, Alberta and Saskatchewan accounted for half (244 kt) of national NH3 emissions.
  • Between 1990 and 2015, Ontario experienced the largest emissions reduction. Emissions in the province decreased by 22% (23 kt).

Ammonia emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990 and 2015

Column chart showing ammonia emissions by province and territory. Long description below.
Long description

The column chart shows 1990 and 2015 ammonia emissions in Canada by province and territory. The emissions are reported in kilotonnes.

Data for this chart
Ammonia emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990 and 2015
Province or territory 1990 (emissions in kilotonnes) 2015 (emissions in kilotonnes)
Newfoundland and Labrador 1.0 0.8
Prince Edward Island 3.5 2.4
Nova Scotia 5.0 3.5
New Brunswick 4.5 3.3
Quebec 67.6 69.2
Ontario 106.8 83.7
Manitoba 38.9 60.2
Saskatchewan 49.8 102.3
Alberta 97.8 141.6
British Columbia 23.2 18.2
Yukon <0.1 <0.1
Northwest Territories and Nunavut <0.1 <0.1

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 789 B)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator reports air pollutant emissions from human activities only.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2017) Air Pollutant Emission Inventory.

More information

In 2015, Alberta emitted the most NH3 of all the provinces and territories, representing
29% (142 kt) of total national emissions. Saskatchewan contributed the second-largest proportion of NH3, representing 21% (102 kt).

Ontario and Quebec emitted the next highest proportions, with 17% and 14% (84 kt and 69 kt), respectively. For all provinces, livestock farms and the application of fertilizers were the most important sources of NH3 emissions.

Almost all of the increase in emissions between 1990 and 2015 took place in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta.

Ammonia emissions from facilities

Environment and Climate Change Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory provides detailed information on air pollutant emissions from industrial and commercial facilities. The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) program provides access to this information through an online interactive map.

With the CESI interactive map, you can zoom in to local areas and obtain details on NH3 emissions specific to reporting facilities.

Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2016) National Pollutant Release Inventory Data search - facility reported data.

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