If you use a chemical fertilizer or pesticide, chances are that a toxic substance called arsenic may be lurking about in your garden. Though arsenic is a natural element found in the earth’s crust, large quantities of the substance are found in our soil and water and proven to be harmful.
The amount of arsenic found in soil and water has become a major concern for the EPA. The reason for this concern is because large quantities of arsenic can cause a great deal of damage to human health. Known to create molecular havoc in the human body, exposure to arsenic for long periods of time causes weakness and even confusion and paralysis.
Why is there additional arsenic found in our soil and water? Arsenic can creep into the soil through the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, treated wood (arsenic helps preserve it), and chicken litter. Yep, chicken litter.
One form of arsenic is copper arsenate which is used in pesticides. However, the use of this form has become currently prohibited in many countries. Another example is metallic arsenic which is processed in lead or copper alloys to increase hardness. And lastly, arsenic gas plays an important role in microchip production.
Arsenic compounds can casually enter the body through the intake of food that was grown in chemically fertilized food. The arsenic applied through the use of a chemical fertilizer is transferred to the produce and than consumed by the average person who is probably unaware of the potential hazards he or she is consuming.
Arsenic related illness can also be caused by consumption of contaminated drinking water. Prolonged exposure could cause abnormal pigmentation of the skin as well as loss of hair. Even nail growth may stop. Symptoms of acute arsenic poisoning are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cyanosis, cardiac arrhythmia, confusion and hallucinations. Symptoms of chronic arsenic poisoning are less specific. These can include depression, numbness, sleeping disorders and headaches.
If you garden, steer clear of using chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Though there may be traces of arsenic already in the ground, don’t contribute anymore to your soil. Use a natural fertilizer instead. This will allow you to be able to give your fruits and vegetables the nutrients they need but without the worry of adding hazardous chemicals to the land and the produce you consume.
Because arsenic has no color, taste or odor, you’ll need to get a soil sample to determine the levels of arsenic in your soil. You may even want to check into the history of the area just to make sure. And even if you don’t use a chemical fertilizer yourself, you may end up with arsenic contamination from your neighbor’s farm so it won’t hurt to test your soil and water to be on the safe side!