Fertilizer is commonly used in homes, lawns and gardens. They keep them healthy and encourage them to grow faster. However, the pesticides contained within fertilizers can also be hazardous to people when there is physical contact, inhalation or accidental ingestion. In this article, we will examine how even low-level exposure in food, homes, air, water, soil and sediments can lead to pesticide poisoning when it takes place over a long period of time.
Many homeowners use fertilizer on their fruits and vegetables. While it’s safe to use fertilizers on your non-edible plants, it’s best to be cautious when using them to grow food. When people eat these pesticides, they are at risk for chronic and acute poisoning. The result is an array of symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, dizziness, confusion and anxiety. Even when received in low doses, an individual can experience respiratory problems, skin conditions, miscarriages, cancer and neurological conditions.
Some individuals use fertilizers on their houseplants. When it is accidentally touched, it can act as a poison to both people and pets because it contains nitrates. While plants can easily absorb nitrates, it can lower the ability of your red blood cells to carry and deliver the oxygen you need. This means that the person may notice that parts of their body (such as the lips, fingernails or hands) turn blue from the lack of oxygen. They may faint, experience low blood pressure, have seizures or feel shortness of breath.
Sure, plants can help to remove pollution from the air, but ironically the fertilizer that helps them grow can have a devastating effect on air quality. When grass is heavily fertilized, it causes ammonia to be released into the air. The ammonia then combines with pollutants from vehicles and power plants to create aerosols. These aerosols are what penetrate deep into the lungs and cause heart disease.
What most homeowners don’t realize is that even if the fertilizer is not used near bodies of water, rainfall can eventually wash it into the rivers, lakes and streams. This is a problem because the nutrients in fertilizers can cause a rapid growth of algae. And some species of algae produce toxins that are harmful to humans. Symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and eye, skin or throat irritation.
Soil and Sediments
Fertilizers are full of chemicals that aren’t produced in nature which means they can’t be broken down. As a result, they seep into the ground, mixed with water and then slowly reduce the fertility of the soil. Plants absorb the fertilizer and when they decompose, they cause soil pollution. Chemicals from the fertilizers make their way into the groundwater which end up in drinking water. This can affect the genetic make-up of our bodies and cause congenital illnesses and chronic health problems.
Fertilizers are a great growth agent for plants. However, there is always the possibility of long term low level pesticide poisoning which can lead to health problems that are sometimes irreversible and potentially fatal. Homeowners should exercise caution when using fertilizers or explore other alternatives to plant growth.
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