Nitrous oxide
Nitrous oxide's canonical forms
Ball-and-stick model with bond lengths
Space-filling model of nitrous oxide
IUPAC name Greenhouse gas trends

Nitrous oxide has significant global warming potential as a greenhouse gas. On a per-molecule basis, considered over a 100-year period, nitrous oxide has 298 times the atmospheric heat-trapping ability of carbon dioxide (CO
);[116][117] however, because of its low concentration (less than 1/1,000 of that of CO
),[98] its contribution to the greenhouse effect is less than one third that of carbon dioxide, and also less than water vapour and methane. On the other hand, since 38% or more of the N
entering the atmosphere is the result of human activity,[103] and its concentration has increased 15% since 1750,[98][118] control of nitrous oxide is considered part of efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.[119]

A 2008 study by Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen suggests that the amount of nitrous oxide release attributable to agricultural nitrate fertilisers has been seriously underestimated, most of which presumably, would come under soil and oceanic release in the Environmental Protection Agency data.[120]

Nitrous oxide is released into the atmosphere through agriculture, when farmers add nitrogen-based fertilizers onto the fields, through the breakdown of animal manure. Approximately 79 percent of all nitrous oxide released in the United States came from nitrogen fertilization. Nitrous oxide is also released as a by-product of burning fossil fuel, though the amount released depends on which fuel was used. It is also emitted through the manufacture of Nitric acid, which is used in the synthesis of nitrogen fertilizers. The production of adipic acid, a precursor to nylon and other synthetic clothing fibres, also releases nitrous oxide. The total amount of nitrous oxide released that is of human origins is about 40 percent.[121]

Ozone layer depletion

In the In the United States, possession of nitrous oxide is legal under federal law and is not subject to DEA purview.[123] It is, however, regulated by the Food and Drug Administration under the Food Drug and Cosmetics Act; prosecution is possible under its "misbranding" clauses, prohibiting the sale or distribution of nitrous oxide for the purpose of human consumption. Many states have laws regulating the possession, sale and distribution of nitrous oxide. Such laws usually ban distribution to minors or limit the amount of nitrous oxide that may be sold without special license.[citation needed] For example, in the state of California, possession for recreational use is prohibited and qualifies as a misdemeanour.[124]

In August 2015, the Council of the London Borough of Lambeth (UK) banned t

In August 2015, the Council of the London Borough of Lambeth (UK) banned the use of the drug for recreational purposes, making offenders liable to an on-the-spot fine of up to £1,000.[125]

In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health has warned that nitrous oxide is a prescription medicine, and its sale or possession without a prescription is an offense under the Medicines Act.[126] This statement would seemingly prohibit all non-medicinal uses of nitrous oxide, although it is implied that only recreational use will be targeted legally.

In India, transfer of nitrous oxide from bulk cylinders to smaller, more transportable E-type, 1,590-litre-capacity tanks[127] is legal when the intended use of the gas is for medical anaesthesia.