Impact of Agrochemicals on the environment

This article will give us an idea on the environmental situation with regards to agrochemicals in Pakistan. It tells   the history and the present age of agrochemical usage. The problems of institutional bargain for agrochemical research and progress, and government policies and legislation regarding import, manufacture, registration, sale and distribution of agrochemical are addressed. It also raises incidences of professional and accidental poisoning, and environmental contamination. The sources and chances of agrochemical pollution are identified with suggestions for avoidance of environmental degradation through them.



We all know that fertilizers are used for proper and healthy growth of plants… but are they really healthy? What exactly are fertilizers? Well, a fertilizer is a substance, be it synthetic or organic, which is added to the soil in order to increase the supply of essential nutrients that boost the growth of plants and vegetation in that soil. With the rapid increase in population globally, the demand of food and agricultural yield has been rising tremendously. This is the reason why statistics show that almost 40-60% of agricultural crops are grown with the use of different types of fertilizers. Not only this, more than 50% people feed on crops that are grown as a result of using synthetic fertilizers. On the other hand, there are organic fertilizers that consist of manures and animal wastes.  How fertilizers are affecting the nature and environment around us. Harmful Effects of Fertilizers on  the Nature and Environment.

Mother Nature has always taught us to balance out everything, and still continues to do so! If you eat a lot, your body naturally bloats up and tells you to exercise and come back to shape. When you exercise too much, your body tells you to slow down and relax. If there is rain, you also get the Sun, each and everything works fine till a balance is maintained. And we all know the consequences of imbalance. A classic example for the same would be the rise in global warming due to various reasons, including deforestation! Same is the case with fertilizers. The problem is that humans tend to use too much of fertilizers in the soil because they have to cater to the global demand of food. As mentioned already, more than half of the total yield production is out of synthetic or inorganic fertilizers which contain components like nitrogen, potassium, sulfur, calcium, magnesium, and so on. These chemicals and minerals, although help in boosting the growth of plants, they also have their drastic side effects in the long run. Mentioned below are some key points defining the effects of using fertilizers on the environment? Have a look…

Depletes the quality of soil


Though this may sound ironic to you, the fact is that using too much of fertilizers in the soil can alter the fertility of the soil by increasing the acid levels in the soil. Which is why it is recommended to get a soil test done at least once in every 3 years so that you can keep a track whether or not you are using the right amount of fertilizers? The levels of soil pH vary from 0-14, wherein 0 is considered to be the most acidic and 14 being the most basic. 7 are considered to be neutral. The ideal soil pH varies from plant to plant and can be altered by bringing in some changes. Bottom line for using too much of fertilizers in the soil is that, though it may seem to run. Alters the Biology of Water Bodies.When you use too much of fertilizers in the soil, it leads to eutrophication. Fertilizers contain substances like nitrates and phosphates that are flooded into lakes and oceans through rains and sewage. These substances prove to become toxic for the aquatic life, thereby, increasing the excessive growth of algae in the water bodies and decreasing the levels of oxygen. This leads to a toxic environment and leads to death of fish and other aquatic fauna and flora. Indirectly, it contributes to an imbalance in the food chain as the different kinds of fishes in the water bodies tend to be the main food source of various birds and animals in the environment. You would be surprised to know that more than 50% of the lakes in the United States are eutrophic!work currently, there are high chances that you may not use it for plant yielding in the long.

Affects on Human Health
the nitrogen and other chemicals present in the fertilizers can also affect the ground waters and waters that are used for the purpose of drinking! One of the most common results for this can be the development of blue baby syndrome which occurs in infants whose skin tissues are low in oxygen, which is why their skin appears to be blue or purplish in color. You would also be interested to know that studies reveal that the use of lawn fertilizers and pesticides can cause health risks like cancer and chronic diseases in humans, especially in children.

Impact on human health
–         Contaminated water may contain high levels of nitrates and nitrites, causing hemoglobin disorders.

–         Heavy metals such as Mercury, Lead, Cadmium and Uranium have been found in fertilizers, which can cause disturbances in the kidneys, lungs and liver and cause cancer. Over 29 popular fertilizers tested positive for 22 toxic heavy metals, including Silver, Nickel, Selenium, Thallium and Vanadium, all directly linked to human health hazards.

–        Ammonium Nitrate exposure causes other health problems such as eye and skin irritation, producing a burning sensation. Inhalation exposure can result in irritation of the nose, throat, and lungs. One can also experience nausea, vomiting, flushing of the face and neck, headache, nervousness, uncontrolled muscle movements, faintness and collapse.

–         Potassium Chloride interferes with nerve impulses, and interrupts with virtually all bodily functions and mainly affects heart functioning. It can cause all kinds of gastric and stomach pains, dizziness, bloody diarrhea, convulsions, headaches, mental impairments, redness or itching of the skin or eyes.

–         Cadmium: Ultimately enters the human tissues resulting in diseases such as trachea-bronchitis, pneumonitis, pulmonary edema, renal failure, osteoporosis, and many others. Lettuce (Latuca sativa L.), found in great quantities in countries like Brazil and others in South America, uptake Cd very easily, with an average amount of 870mg Cd/Kg. Yet, human beings, via the gastrointestinal system,only uptake about 5% of the Cd through food. However, those lacking iron can uptake up to 6% more. Hence, this can be harmful to them because Cadmium poisoning, which comes from its excessive intake, can lead to kidney, bone and pulmonary damage. The “Itai-Itai” (it hurts-it hurts, in Japanese) , discovered in Japan in the year of 1912, is caused by Cadmium poisoning, which results in acute pain in the joints and spine

Cancer  Synthetic fertilizers increase over six times the risk of dying of cancer types including brain cancer, lymphoma (non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, NHL), prostate cancer, leukemia and large intestine cancer.



Rao Adeel Ur Rehman, Department of soil and environmental sciences UCA,University  Of Sargodha ,Pakistan

Email id; [email protected]

Co-authors; Muhammad Wasim akram,    Shabana Nazir  , Muhammad  Qaisar Naeem khan.Ali Hassan shah.




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