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The benefits of using fertilizers and pesticides to keep crops healthy are the driving force behind the widespread use of these treatments. Curtailing blights, disease, insects and malnourishment, fertilizers and pesticides help maximize the food stocks gain from each acre of field agriculture. However, the use of chemical sprays, powders and gases can bring about unintentional harm to those exposed both directly and indirectly and to the environment surrounding the crop.


Farmer is pouring chemical fertilizer
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Those who use fertilizers and pesticides are at increased risk of direct exposure to harmful chemicals and vapors. Pesticides, in particular, are designed to repel and kill insects, plants, fungi and even rodents. Farmers and workers exposed to pesticides over long periods of time exhibit symptoms of neurological damage, including dizziness, hand tremors and headaches. Pesticide exposure in children can manifest as problems with neurological development and can affect the development of a fetus through maternal contamination. Pesticide exposure is linked to prostate cancer, Parkinson's disease, birth defects and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Water Supply

pesticide treatment
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Many fertilizers and pesticides are made from liquid or powdered chemicals designed to be spread efficiently over the entire area of the targeted crop. However, this efficacy also makes crop treatments easy to disperse with a simple gust of wind or falling rain. Airborne chemicals are easily blown into neighborhoods or schools zones in rural areas, and groundwater supplies can be contaminated by tainted rainwater. Well-water supplies that service entire families can then transport the chemicals into the home and bring about the harmful effects of low-dosage exposure. Contaminated creeks, rivers and lake areas can also increase human chemical exposure.


Fly Fisherman Revives and Releases Brown Trout
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The chemicals and nutrients found in fertilizers, while beneficial for agricultural crops, can be lethal in high doses for fish, birds and other wildlife. Pesticides, designed to kill pests chemically, are also dangerous when leached into soil or groundwater supplies. Heavy amounts of fertilizer chemicals like potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus in natural water systems can actually cause "dead zones" where wildlife cannot survive because of lower oxygen levels and chemical poisoning. Beneficial insects and organisms like honeybees and soil microbes can be killed alongside the pests, eliminating some of the ecosystem beneficial to crop health and sustainability.