The fertiliser that blew up Beirut
A little-known chemical that changed the world.
Following the Beirut explosion, we’re exploring the chemical that caused the blast - ammonium nitrate. It’s something many of us will have come across before, it’s in some of our antibiotics and used to feed yeast but it’s most commonly sold as a fertiliser. Graihagh Jackson examines how this substance has changed the world - feeding millions on the one hand, and fuelling warfare, pollution and biodiversity loss on the other.
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(Picture: Ammonium nitrate on petri dish. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)