Emission factors for agriculture

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The text on this page is taken from an equivalent page of the IEHIAS-project.

As part of the EU-funded INTARESE project, which contributed to the development of this Toolbox, a case study was carried out to assess health impacts of agricultural land use change in Greece and England.

Emissions from crop production and animal husbandry include those from pesticides as well as biological, microbial and inorganic particulates. This page summarises the data sources and emissions factors for Greece and Great Britain, for the baseline year 2000. Information is available for endotoxins, particulates, pesticides and pollen.


Endotoxin emissions can be estimated by multiplying the endotoxin emission 393factors by the number of animals. For these estimates, housing periods and lengths of production cycles as well as periods when the animal house is empty for cleaning can be taken into account according to local conditions.

Available emission factors for inhalable and respirable endotoxins are summarised in the attached PDF Endotoxin emission factors. The emission factors are expressed per LU or per animal.


Agriculture PM emissions originate from animal husbandry with poultry and pig production being the major polluters. Main sources are animal feed and bedding materials like straw, but also animal plumage and skin. PM emission from arable agriculture mainly stem from harvest operations. Additionally, depending on soil moisture content, soil cultivation can also contribute to PM emissions.

Emission factors for atmospheric particulates have been compiled from a range of sources, including IIASA's GAINS online database. PM emission factors for Greece and Great Britain are available in the attached PDF PM emission factors. Data for additional countries can be downloaded from the links below.


Emission factors for pesticides were derived from information available for the Netherlands (Linden van der et al., 2008). In this report, the emission factor for each pesticide was calculated as the ratio between the total emission of the active substance to the atmosphere and the amount used in the Netherlands (private communication J. Duyzer TNO).

Not all active substances in the case study areas were represented within the Dutch report. Data gaps for emission factors were filled by interpolating on the basis of vapour pressure of other similar active ingredients.


Pollen is a fine to coarse powder consisting of distinct grains. Pollen grains are produced by the male parts of the flowers and are the reproductive bodies of plants and, for the purpose of fertilisation, they are transported by wind to female flowers. Most pollen species are associated with some level of allergenicity, but some are particularly notorious for symptoms of hay fever.

A large amount of pollen, originating from various plants and orchards, is produced each year, usually during spring and summer. Information on release rates is sparse, and actual rates of pollen formation and release vary greatly depending on local conditions (vegetation structure and composition, soil, meteorology).

The methodology used here provides emission factors for agricultural crops. Pollen emission factor (EF) for a specific crop can be estimated using the following simple equation:

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EF: emission factor (pollen grains/km2)

a: percentage (%) of pollen production that is shed

Y: pollen yield (pollen grains/plant)

N: number of plants per km2

Example for maize pollen

Maize (Zea mays) is a cereal grain and belongs to the Poaceae family. The number of plants per square kilometre ranges from 65 *105 to 70*105 (oral comm. Jan 2008). Maize pollen grains are spheroidal to ovoidal and quite large in size, 93-107 μm in diameter. According to literature, an average-sized plant can produce 25 million pollen grains per year [average estimated from data in Paterniani et al. 1974 and Emberlin et al. 1999). Using those data as input to the above equation and making the assumption that 50% of maize pollen production is shed, an EF of 8.1*1013</<up> pollen grains per km2 is calculated. For maize, the period of pollen shedding is considered to be one month - in July, for Southern Europe (oral comm. Jan 2010).

A map of emissions modelled for Thessaly and C. Macedonia is shown here.



  • Braun-Fahrlander, C., Riedler, J., Herz, U., Eder, W., Waser, M., Grize, L., Maisch, S., Carr, D., Florian, G., Bufe, A., Lauener, R.P., Schierl, R., Renz, H., Nowak, D. and von Mutius, E. 2002 Environmental exposure to endotoxin and its relation to asthma in school-age children, The New England Journal of Medicine 347(12), 869-877.
  • Downs, S.H., Marks, G.B., Mitakakis, T.Z., Leuppi, J.D., Car, N.G. and Peat ,J.K. 2001 Having lived on a farm and protection against allergic diseases in Australia, Clinical and Experimental Allergy 31, 570-575.
  • Rennie, D.C., Lawson, J.A., Kirychuk, S.P., Paterson, C., Willson, P.J., Senthilselvan, A. and Cockcroft, D.W. 2008 Assessment of endotoxin levels in the home and current asthma and wheeze in school-age children. Indoor Air 18(6), 447-453.
  • Seedorf, J. 2004 An emission inventory of livestock-related bioaerosols for Lower Saxony, Germany. Atmospheric Environment 38, 6565–6581.



  • Linden van der, A.M.A, Luttik, R., Groenwold, J.G., Kruijne, R. and Merkelbach, RC.M. 2008 Dutch environmental indicator for plant protection products, Version 2. Input, calculation and aggregation procedures, RIVM report 607600002/2008.


  • Emberlin J., Adams-Groom, B., and Tidmarsh, J. 1999 A report on the dispersal of maize pollen. National Pollen Research Institute
  • EUROPE: Polleninfo.org
  • Oral Communication of S. Nikolaki with pollen expert, January 2008
  • Oral Communication of S. Nikolaki with pollen expert, January 2010
  • Paterniani, E. and Short, A.C. (1974) Effective maize pollen dispersal in the field. Euphytica. 23, 129-134.

See also

Integrated Environmental Health Impact Assessment System
IEHIAS is a website developed by two large EU-funded projects Intarese and Heimtsa. The content from the original website was moved to Opasnet.
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