6.A - Ammonia emissions from human sweating and breathing

Short description

NFR-Code Name of category Method AD EF Key Category
6.A Ammonia emissions from human sweating and breathing T1 NS D

In addition to animal-related excretion, nitrogen (N) is also introduced into the environment through human consumption of food and later disposed of. Mainly nitrogen is released into the wastewater system in the form of urine, but physiological processes also release nitrogen as ammonia through sweating and respiration. This emission source describes ammonia emissions produced by humans through sweating and breathing.


The calculation of ammonia emissions in this area is made for the first time and is based on the methodological description of Visschendijk et al. (2022) 1).

For the complete time series, the emissions are calculated as follows:

EM = AD (number of German inhabitants) * EF (kg emission per inhabitant)

Activity data

The number of inhabitants in Germany is derived from the German statistic Agency (DESTATIS) on an annual basis. The number of people living in Germany at the end of June in a specific year is taken as activity data for that year. As of September 30, 2021, 83,2 million people lived in Germany. The following table shows the population figures over time.

Table 1: Population figures in Germany from 1990 onwards

1990 79,753,227
1995 81,307,715
2000 81,456,617
2005 81,336,663
2006 81,173,139
2007 80,992,305
2008 80,763,506
2009 80,482,557
2010 80,284,071
2011 80,274,983
2012 80,523,746
2013 80,767,463
2014 81,197,537
2015 82,175,684
2016 82,521,653
2017 82,792,351
2018 83,019,213
2019 83,166,711
2020 83,155,031
2021 83,237,124

Emission factor

For the calculation of ammonia emissions in this category, the highest of the emission factors given in Sutton et al. (2000)2) are used, resulting in a total emission factor of 0.0826 kg NH3-N per person per year (according to the assumptions sum of 74.88 (sweating) and 7.7 (breathing) grams NH3-N per person per year, respectively). The higher EFs were used to avoid underestimating emissions. The amount was converted to the amount of ammonia using the stoichiometric factor (17/14).

Emission Trend

The average value of the last 10 years is 8.21 kt NH3 emissions per year, so this category is not a major source of regional NH3 emissions. The following figure shows the emission trend.

Figure 1: NFR 6.A, Ammonia emissions from human sweat & breath


As these activities and emissions are reported for the first time, no specific recalculations occur against a previous submission.


The AD from DESTATIS usually have an uncertainty of ± 3%. The uncertainties for the emission factors are estimated to be relatively high, as emission factors vary between different sources and the amount of ammonia volatilized is based on an assumption. Hence the overall uncertainty for the emission estimation of NH3 is qualified estimated by expert judgement to be ± 95%.

Planned Improvement

Currently no improvements are planned.

Visschedijk, A.J.H., J.A.J. Meesters, M.M. Nijkamp, W.W.R. Koch, B.I. Jansen & R. Dröge, 2022. Methods used for the Dutch Emission Inventory. Product usage by consumers, construction and services. RIVM Report 2022-0003. RIVM, Bilthoven., chapter 19 [https://rivm.openrepository.com/bitstream/handle/10029/625730/2022-0003.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y]
Sutton, M.A., U. Dragosits, Y.S. Tang & D. Fowler, 2000. Ammonia emissions from non-agricultural sources in the UK. Atmospheric Environment 34 (2000), 855–869.