Is ammonium chloride biodegradable?

The article will explain the biodegradability of ammonium chloride. Other covered topics would include:

  • What decides the biodegradability of ammonium chloride?
  • What is the relationship between ammonium chloride and the environment?
  • How to store ammonium chloride?
  • How to dispose of ammonium chloride?
  • What are the greener alternatives?

Is ammonium chloride biodegradable?

Ammonium chloride is not biodegradable since it is synthetic, inorganic and toxic in many ways. However, various researchers have been able to achieve biodegradation of ammonium chloride under controlled environments. 

Ammonium chloride plays an active role in altering the biology and chemistry of water bodies and therefore, people are cautioned to avoid the use or disposal of ammonium chloride in water bodies as the effects in there will be reciprocated at various levels of food chains. 

The article will also discuss various ways through which ammonium chloride can be stored and disposed of safely because the right storage and disposal will eventually mean that less risk is subjected to the environment. 

Lastly, greener alternatives to ammonium chloride will be discussed that include biofertilizers and compost. Their positive impacts will also be shed light upon. 

What decides the biodegradability of ammonium chloride?

There are three factors that will determine the biodegradability status of anything including ammonium chloride. These include:

  • How broadly and readily it is degraded by microbes 
  • What is the environmental impact of a material 
  • How natural and organic that material or compound is 

Now, if we assess our case of ammonium chloride against these factors, we will note that:

  • ammonium chloride is made in the labs by the combination of ammonia with hydrogen chloride 
  • ammonium chloride is inorganic 
  • ammonium chloride has detrimental impacts on plants, aquatic life and humans 
  • ammonium chloride may also exhibit antimicrobial properties 

Therefore, based on these points, it can be argued that the credibility of ammonium chloride as a biodegradable material can not be well-established. However, various contemporary pieces of research have indicated otherwise. 

As per a number of recent researches, scientists have been able to achieve good biodegradation rates brought about by the microbes on ammonium chloride. 

Therefore, to conclude and wrap things up, it can be said that ammonium chloride is not biodegradable since it is synthetic, inorganic and toxic in many ways. However, various researchers have been able to achieve biodegradation of ammonium chloride under controlled environments. 

What is the relationship between ammonium chloride and the environment?

How does ammonium chloride affect aquatic life?

As stanced, there are a number of detrimental impacts of ammonium chloride on the environment. As per studies, there is a blunt relationship between ammonium chloride and aquatic life. Hence, care should be taken in not disposing of ammonium chloride in water bodies. 

When ammonium chloride is disposed of in water bodies, the fishes are unable to eliminate ammonia from their bodies due to the presence of high amounts of ammonia in the water bodies (from ammonium chloride). 

This leads to detrimental impacts on the fish such as:

  • Damage to the gills
  • Stress
  • Internal damage 
  • Death 
  • Effect on the food chains 

Therefore, ammonium chloride plays an active role in altering the biology and chemistry of water bodies and therefore, people are cautioned to avoid the use or disposal of ammonium chloride in water bodies as the effects there will be reciprocated at various levels of food chains. 

How does ammonium chloride affect plants?

When it comes to the relationship between ammonium chloride and the plants, it is stanced that there is a positive relation (if dealt with care). 

Ammonium chloride is a good source of two major elements that include:

  • Nitrogen 
  • Chlorine 

Both these elements play a pivotal role in the basic metabolic functions of the plants and therefore, are deemed necessary for the plants. 

However, if for any reason, these elements are not present in the right quantities, there could be negative effects in terms of decreased growth or altered biology. Owing to this, ammonium chloride may be used as a fertiliser to achieve the following advantages:

  • Increased growth 
  • Disease prevention 
  • Better crop yield 
  • Increased water retention 

However, while there are positive effects of ammonium chloride on the environment and plants, it is advised to not use ammonium chloride in excessive quantities as this can result in unfavourable conditions in terms of plants’ growth and overall well-being. 

How to store ammonium chloride? (7 ways) 

The correct storage of ammonium chloride is one good way to ensure that the environment is saved from the harmful and detrimental impacts of ammonium chloride. Also, it will imply the correct use and reuse of ammonium chloride.  For safe storage options, consider the following points:

  • Store ammonium chloride in a cool place 
  • Store ammonium chloride in a dry place
  • Store ammonium chloride in an airtight container 
  • Store ammonium chloride away from sunlight 
  • Store ammonium chloride distant from sources of intense heat 
  • Store ammonium chloride in tightly closed jars or containers 
  • Store ammonium chloride away from reactive materials 

How to safely dispose of ammonium chloride?

As it has been stanced that ammonium chloride is hazardous to humans and aquatic life, it is important to ensure that ammonium chloride is stored and disposed of properly. 

For this, it is essential to store and dispose of in airtight containers (made from good materials) so that there is no exposure of ammonium chloride into the environment. 

For the disposal of ammonium chloride, consider the following points:

  • Ammonium chloride and be used and reused for a good amount of time, hence keep the disposal as a last resort
  • You must never dispose of ammonium chloride in waterways as the said material is hygroscopic 
  • You may dispose of ammonium chloride by using it as a fertiliser
  • You must dispose of ammonium chloride in air-sealed jars so that there is good segregation between ammonium chloride and the environment 
  • You should not throw ammonium chloride in open dumps or regular trash cans
  • You must never throw ammonium chloride in water bodies 
  • You should never dump ammonium chloride down the drain 

Can ammonium chloride be recycled?

Yes, it may sound a bit off the chart but recent works have been able to recycle ammonium chloride. However, you need to be careful as not all recycling facilities will accept to recycle ammonium chloride. 

Therefore, you will need to personally check and ensure if ammonium chloride can be recycled in your area. If not, you may want to go for the disposal of ammonium chloride as discussed in the previous section. 

Can you substitute ammonium chloride with a greener alternative?

Yes, there can be greener alternatives to ammonium chloride. One of the major uses of ammonium chloride is to be used as a fertiliser. However, we do know that there are green fertilisers available too that will not cause that much damage to the environment. These include:

  • Biofertilisers 
  • Compost 

Biofertilisers include living microbes that can be used to improve the soil and plants’ conditions. Biofertilisers may offer the following advantages:

  • Nutrient provision 
  • Increased root biomass 
  • Promotion of growth 
  • Increase in nutrient uptake 
  • Better water retention 

If biofertiliser is not the thing, you may also prefer compost which may act as a natural fertiliser and is actually a good way to utilise organic and biodegradable waste. 

The good thing is that there are absolutely no health hazards associated with these options as it is in the case of ammonium chloride. 

These are some eco-friendly alternatives that you can depend on as a way to replace ammonium chloride which is inorganic and hazardous to health and aquatic ecosystems. 

Conclusion 

It is concluded that ammonium chloride is not biodegradable since it is synthetic, inorganic and toxic in many ways. However, various researchers have been able to achieve biodegradation of ammonium chloride under controlled environments. 

Ammonium chloride plays an active role in altering the biology and chemistry of water bodies and therefore, people are cautioned to avoid the use or disposal of ammonium chloride in water bodies as the effects in there will be reciprocated at various levels of food chains. 

The article also discussed various ways through which ammonium chloride can be stored and disposed of safely because the right storage and disposal will eventually mean that less risk is subjected to the environment. 

Lastly, greener alternatives to ammonium chloride were discussed that included biofertilizers and compost. Their positive impacts were also shed light upon. 

Reference

  • Felista Rani, E., Elumalai, M. & Balasubramanian, M.P. Toxic and Sublethal Effects of Ammonium Chloride on a Freshwater Fish Oreochromis mossambicus. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution 104, 1–8 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1004941825193
  • Dasgupta, D., Kumar, K., Miglani, R., Mishra, R., Panda, A. K., & Bisht, S. S. (2021). Microbial biofertilizers: Recent trends and future outlook. Recent Advancement in Microbial Biotechnology, 1-26.

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