Fertilizer and plant food poisoning head image

Modern agriculture and farming heavily relies on chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers for a better crop yield.

However, both substances have also been constantly under scrutiny for their potential harmful effects to humans, the environment, and even animals.

For instance, complaints in the Paraquat lawsuit have talked about how exposure to a popular herbicide sold under the brand name Paraquat can cause a number of adverse health effects including kidney failure, lung scarring, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

Moreover, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the pesticide can also potentially cause pesticide poisoning in case of exposure.

Similarly, the excessive use of fertilizer, which is another aid in crop production, has also been known to damage plants or crops. But it turns out that its dangers do not only stop at your plants.

This article will focus on plant food poisoning, how it occurs, and what causes it.

What is Plant Food Poisoning?

Plant foods, also known as plant fertilizers, are substances used on plants in gardens or homes to aid in plant growth and to keep them healthy.

But no matter how beneficial they are for plants, their excessive use also come with potential risks. Plant fertilizers can put humans and pets in danger through exposure of skin, accidental ingestion, or inhalation.

In fact, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, in 2014, around 1,500 cases of poisoning from indoor household plant fertilizers were reported. These figures, however, are raised to 5,000 if the incidents caused by outdoor fertilizers are to be included.

The majority of these cases were accidental poisonings in children below 5 years old.

Plant food poisoning can also be referred to as fertiliser poisoning, household plant food poisoning, or plant fertilizer toxicity.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Plant Fertilizer Poisoning?

The symptoms of plant fertilizer poisoning can vary from person to person and can also range from mild to severe.

If your skin was exposed to plant fertilizers, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • itching of skin
  • burning sensation on the skin
  • redness of the skin
  • burning of the mouth, eyes, nose, or throat

On the other hand, plant fertilizer ingestion may cause you to suffer from the following symptoms:

  • bluish discoloration of the lips, palms, or fingernails due to lack of oxygen
  • lack of coordination in movements
  • dizziness
  • stomach pain
  • difficulty breathing
  • fainting
  • vomiting
  • decrease in blood pressure
  • convulsions

A plant fertilizer can also interact with other prescription or over-the-counter medications you might be taking. These interactions may cause some unwanted side effects.

Causes of Plant Fertilizer Toxicity

Poisoning from plant fertilizers can happen through inhalation or accidental ingestion of the chemical. Coming into physical contact with the fertilizer can also skin irritation and burns.

The ingredients which are widely used in chemical fertilizers that can cause poisoning are nitrates and nitrites. Nitrate, a form of nitrogen, is beneficial for plant growth, but high levels of this chemical compound can be harmful for humans, as it affects how blood carries oxygen in our body.

Moreover, as nitrogen can persist in the water for many years, the water may become contaminated with nitrates and nitrites. And when babies are fed with infant formula using nitrate-contaminated water, it can result in a blood disorder called methemoglobinemia, also known as “blue baby syndrome.”

In this condition, an abnormal amount of methemoglobin, a form of hemoglobin, is produced in the body. Infants who suffer from this blood disorder literally turns blue and may eventually experience coma and even succumb to death.

A chemical fertilizer can also cause problems with the heavy metals that it contains. These include Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, and Uranium, which can negatively impact the kidneys, liver, and lungs. These heavy metals are also associated with other adverse effects on human health.

Surviving Plant Food Poisoning

If you believe you have been poisoned by plant fertilizer, the National Poison Control Centers (1-800-222-1222) can be reached from anywhere in the United States.

This national toll-free hotline will get you in touch with experts in poisoning who can give you further instructions.

You should call if you have any questions regarding poisoning or how to prevent it. You should also seek medical attention. Be ready with information including the type of fertilizer and how much of the substance you were able to came into contact with, inhaled, or ingested, and how mucht ime has passed before you sought medical attention.

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