Fertilizers can be bad in a number of ways. They very frequently contain nitrogen as this is a key element for plant growth, however these extra nitrates can leach into groundwater. Nitrate levels above 10 mg/L (10 ppm) can cause what is known as baby blue syndrome, which can lead to hypoxia and eventually death of the plant. “The use of ammonium nitrate in inorganic fertilizers is particularly damaging, as plants absorb ammonium ions preferentially over nitrate ions, while excess nitrate ions which are not absorbed dissolve (by rain or irrigation) into groundwater. Nitrogen-containing inorganic fertilizers in the form of nitrate and ammonium also cause soil acidification.” This nitrogen also affects the plants, namely algae, that it essentially feeds when it reaches lakes. This can disrupt natural plant and animal life, often the overgrowth of algae will contaminate the water killing the fish. “Uranium is another example of a contaminant often found in phosphate fertilizers. radioactive Polonium-210 contained in phosphate fertilizers is absorbed by the roots of plants and stored in its tissues. Tobacco derived from plants fertilzed by rock phosphates contains Polonium-210 which emits alpha radiation estimated to cause about 11,700 lung cancer deaths each year worldwide.” Fertilizers can also be toxic, they get their toxicity as they are made from recycled industrial waste; “Between 1990-1995, 600 companies from 44 different states sent 270 million pounds of toxic waste to farms and fertilizer companies across the country.”
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