What Are Fertilizers?
To better understand the Harmful Effects of Fertilizers on Human Health, it is important to understand what fertilizers are. Fertilizers are chemical substances which are added to the soil to make it more fertile and thus, produce more food products like fruits and vegetables from the plants. It is basically a composition of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium which when added to the soil makes it more fertile than it already may be.
The Harmful Effects of Fertilizers on both the environment and the overall health of people is something, which has not been too actively debated due to the lack of appropriate knowledge as to what fertilizers and pesticides can do to the overall health of people and the environment as a whole. One of the biggest risks of fertilizers is the contamination of ground water, which may lead to many diseases, but to what extent it impacts out lives negatively is something which very few people understand and hence we see even today increased use of fertilizers and pesticides to increase production in farming sector.
What Are The Harmful Effects Of Fertilizers on Human Health?
The biggest harmful effect that fertilizers have is contamination of ground water. The nitrogen present in the fertilizers breaks down into nitrates and seeps through the soil and mixes with the ground water. Since nitrogen is easily soluble in water, it can remain mixed with groundwater for decades at a time and as more and more fertilizer is added to the soil the content of nitrogen in the water increases, which further increases the harmful effects of a contaminated groundwater when it is drunk by common people.
A study conducted showed that when fertilizers are mixed with pesticide the effects are compounded. The studies showed that consumption of such foods or drinking the contaminated water increased the chances of fetal abnormalities along with abnormalities in the neurological and endocrine systems of the baby. It also showed that the child may have altered ability to learn and may be over aggressive due to the Harmful Effects of Fertilizers.
The use of urea which is extremely popular and financially feasible for farmers to use is a fertilizer, which contributes to acid rain, groundwater contamination, and depletion of ozone layer in the atmosphere due to release of nitrous oxide gas. Since the use of urea has been increasing, the Harmful Effects of urea is bound to increase in the coming decades. Groundwater contamination due to urea is known to contribute to disease like gastric cancer, goiter, birth abnormalities, hypertension; testicular cancer, and stomach cancer.
Another Harmful Effect of Fertilizers is the excessive use of nitrogen may lead to respiratory problems, cardiac disease, and several types of cancers. They also contribute to increased pollen production which is a known allergen. It also contributes to various diseases like West Nile virus, malaria, and cholera
One of the most catastrophic effects of Fertilizers is the development of a medical condition known as methemoglobinemia. This condition is found in children is known by the name of Blue Baby Syndrome. This disease develops when formula foods mixed with water which has been contaminated by fertilizers is given to the child. It causes a decrease in oxygen levels in the blood giving a blue color to the skin of the baby. It also causes lethargy, irritability and may even cause coma and in some cases death.
Excess amounts of nitrogen in groundwater, which contributes to aquatic deaths of fishes as the increase in nitrogen causes more plants to grow, which eats up the oxygen present in the water, thus starving the fishes present in it. This not only affects the aquatic ecosystem, but also affects the people whose basic food is seafood like fish and are dependent on it.
Another Harmful Effects of Fertilizers is the use of raw and untreated human waste to the crops, which is being practiced in many countries. Practicing such type of activity increases the risks of diseases by leaps and bounds and the human wastes have not been recycled and applied as such to the plants and soil.