Nitrates and phosphates are essential for life, but increased concentrations in water can encourage excessive growth of algae and reduce the oxygen within the water. Eutrophication can therefore be classified as the over-enrichment of water courses. Its occurrence can lead to damage of ecosystems, increasing mortality of aquatic fauna and flora and to loss of species dependent on low-nutrient environments. Emissions of ammonia, nitrates, nitrogen oxides and phosphorous to air or water all have an impact on eutrophication. Eutrophication potential is based on the work of Heijungs, and is expressed using the reference unit, kg PO4 equivalents.
Direct and indirect impacts of fertilisers are included in the method. The direct impacts are from production of the fertilisers and the indirect ones are calculated using the IPCC method to estimate emissions to water causing Eutrophication.
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