The Human Impacts Database

A collection of useful numbers for quantifying the impacts of the human presence on Earth.

Total watershed Nitrogen input from sewer systems

Atmospheric & Biogeochemical CyclesNitrogen

This quantity is a single measurement of the quantity at a given point in time (2015).


This is equivalent to...

≈ 4 Tg N / yr

HuID: 13501
Relevant Year(s): 2015
Summary: The sum total Nitrogen (N) input into global watersheds from human sewage via sewer input (with partial treatment). The primary determinant of the amount of nitrogen coming from human waste is given from protein consumption.
Method: These data correspond to estimated values of N input given a population-based model predicated on data from human population and protein consumption in the year 2015. These data are not directly measured but rather inferred given data from the FAO and the GHS-Pop spatial data set. They make some estimates for the fraction of N removed from sewage treatment is ≈55%. Amount of N effluent from human wastewater comes from estimates of protein consumption per capita. These data are mostly from the FAO but not all localities were reported, requiring some data interpolation. Finally, these data consider only effects of N input within 1 km of surface waters and coastlines.
Source: Tuholske, Cascade; Halpern, Benjamin S.; Blasco, Gordon; Carlos Villasenor, Juan; Frazier, Melanie; Caylor, Kelly Mapping global inputs and impacts from of human sewage in coastal ecosystems. PLoS ONE (2021)
Dataset: Global N input by wastewater type (Tuholske2021_TableS5_N_input_global.csv)
global resolution
Original Data License: CC-BY 4.0
Added By: gchure