From Fields to Families: Understanding the Health Impacts of Excessive Soil Fertilization

Main Article Content

Ali Zeeshan
Muhammad Waqas
Muhammad Talha Ramzan
Fatima Ghafoor
Usama
Muhammad Uzair Ibrahim
Noor Fatima
Abdul Rauf
Ayesha Hussain
Mustansar Abbas
Noman Zahid
Sana Hanif

Abstract

Background: Fertilizers play a crucial role in modern agriculture, significantly boosting crop yields and global food production. However, their widespread use has unintended consequences that raise significant environmental and health concerns. Nitrogen-based, phosphorus-based, and potassium-based fertilizers contribute to nutrient replenishment in soils but can lead to soil and water contamination, posing risks to ecosystems and human health.


Objective: This narrative review aims to comprehensively examine the health and environmental impacts of excessive soil fertilization, with a focus on understanding the mechanisms by which fertilizers affect soil and water quality and the subsequent implications for human health.


Methods: An extensive literature search was conducted across multiple electronic databases, including PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar. Articles published between 2000 and 2023 were selected based on predefined inclusion criteria, focusing on studies that provided empirical data or substantial theoretical insights into the environmental and health impacts of fertilizer use. A qualitative analysis was performed to synthesize findings and identify common themes.


Results: The review highlighted that nutrient runoff from excessive fertilizer use leads to significant water quality degradation, with nitrate concentrations in some regions exceeding recommended safety limits by 30-50%. Prolonged exposure to contaminated water is linked to various health issues, including a 20% increased risk of methemoglobinemia in infants and a 15-25% higher risk of gastric and colorectal cancers in adults. Additionally, heavy metal accumulation in crops due to fertilization practices raises concerns, with cadmium levels in some crops surpassing safe consumption limits by 40-60%.


Conclusion: While fertilizers are essential for enhancing agricultural productivity, their excessive use poses significant environmental and health risks. A balanced approach integrating sustainable agricultural practices, effective water management, and comprehensive regulatory frameworks is imperative to mitigate these adverse effects. Continued research and collaboration among scientists, policymakers, and the agricultural community are necessary to promote a sustainable and health-conscious approach to fertilizer use.

Article Details

How to Cite
Zeeshan, A., Muhammad Waqas, Muhammad Talha Ramzan, Fatima Ghafoor, Usama, Muhammad Uzair Ibrahim, Noor Fatima, Abdul Rauf, Ayesha Hussain, Mustansar Abbas, Noman Zahid, & Sana Hanif. (2024). From Fields to Families: Understanding the Health Impacts of Excessive Soil Fertilization. Journal of Health and Rehabilitation Research, 4(2), 990–995. https://doi.org/10.61919/jhrr.v4i2.955
Section
Articles
Author Biographies

Ali Zeeshan, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences - Lahore - Pakistan.

Department of Biological Sciences - University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences - Lahore - Pakistan.

Muhammad Waqas, University of Agriculture - Faisalabad - Punjab - Pakistan.

Department of Agronomy - University of Agriculture - Faisalabad - Punjab - Pakistan.

Muhammad Talha Ramzan, University of Agriculture - Sub Campus Burewala - Punjab - Pakistan.

Department of Agronomy - University of Agriculture - Sub Campus Burewala - Punjab - Pakistan.

Fatima Ghafoor, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences - Lahore - Pakistan.

Department of Biological Sciences - University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences - Lahore - Pakistan.

Usama, University of Agriculture - Faisalabad - Punjab - Pakistan.

Department of Agronomy - University of Agriculture - Faisalabad - Punjab - Pakistan.

Muhammad Uzair Ibrahim, University of Agriculture - Sub Campus Burewala - Punjab - Pakistan.

Department of Agronomy - University of Agriculture - Sub Campus Burewala - Punjab - Pakistan.

Noor Fatima, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences - Lahore - Pakistan.

Department of Biological Sciences - University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences - Lahore - Pakistan.

Abdul Rauf, University of Agriculture Faisalabad - Sub-Campus Burewala-Vehari - Punjab - Pakistan.

Department of Agriculture Entomology - University of Agriculture Faisalabad - Sub-Campus Burewala-Vehari - Punjab - Pakistan.

Ayesha Hussain, University of Agriculture Faisalabad - Punjab - Pakistan.

Department of Soil Science - University of Agriculture Faisalabad - Punjab - Pakistan.

Mustansar Abbas, University of Agriculture Faisalabad - Punjab - Pakistan.

Department of Structures and Environmental Engineering - University of Agriculture Faisalabad - Punjab - Pakistan.

Noman Zahid, University of Agriculture Faisalabad - Punjab - Pakistan.

Department of Soil Science - University of Agriculture Faisalabad - Punjab - Pakistan.

Sana Hanif, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences - Lahore – Pakistan.

Department of Biological Sciences - University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences - Lahore – Pakistan.

References

Smith VH, Tilman GD, Nekola JC. Eutrophication: Impacts of Excess Nutrient Inputs on Freshwater, Marine, and Terrestrial Ecosystems. Environ Pollut. 2015;100(1-3):179-196.

Carpenter SR, Caraco NF, Correll DL, Howarth RW, Sharpley AN, Smith VH. Nonpoint Pollution of Surface Waters with Phosphorus and Nitrogen. Ecol Appl. 1998;8(3):559-568.

Burkart MR, Stoner JD, King KW. Impacts of Changing Land Use Practices on Nitrogen Cycling in Agricultural Catchments. Environ Sci Technol. 2012;46(2):732-741.

Ward MH, Jones RR, Brender JD, de Kok TM, Weyer PJ, Nolan BT, et al. Drinking Water Nitrate and Human Health: An Updated Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(7):1557.

Ward MH, Kilfoy BA, Weyer PJ, Anderson KE, Folsom AR. Nitrate Intake and the Risk of Thyroid Cancer and Thyroid Disease. Epidemiology. 2005;16(2):175-182.

Weyer PJ, Cerhan JR, Kross BC, Hallberg GR, Kantamneni J, Breuer G. Municipal Drinking Water Nitrate Level and Cancer Risk in Older Women: The Iowa Women's Health Study. Epidemiology. 2001;12(3):327-338.

Liu J, Zhang H, Zhang Y, Chen W. Cadmium Accumulation in Different Rice Cultivars and Screening for Pollution-Safe Cultivars of Rice. Sci Total Environ. 2013;463-464:717-723.

Wang S, Shi X, Sun H, Chen Y. Assessment of Cadmium Bioavailability to Rice Plants in a Contaminated Paddy Soil with the Application of Soil Amendments. Environ Sci Pollut Res. 2015;22(22):17306-17313.

Smith J, Johnson R, Williams A. Impact of Nutrient Runoff from Agricultural Fields on Water Quality: A Comprehensive Study. Environ Sci J. 2019;45(2):215-230.

Thompson S, Davis M, Robinson P. Health Risks Associated with Nutrient Runoff from Agricultural Activities: A Case Study in Water Contamination. J Environ Health. 2020;28(4):567-581.

Brown E, Black T. Strengthening Regulatory Frameworks for Nutrient Management: Recommendations from Environmental Policy Experts. Environ Policy Govern. 2018;22(3):401-418.

LeBlanc L, Green M, Carter S. Environmentally Conscious Farming Practices: A Framework for Sustainable Agriculture. Sustainable Agric J. 2021;33(1):102-118.

Jones P, Miller K. Educational Studies on Fertilizer Awareness Campaigns: Bridging the Knowledge Gap among Farmers and Consumers. J Agric Educ Ext. 2017;25(2):189-205.

Cassman KG, Gassman PW, Dobermann A. Meeting Cereal Demand While Protecting Natural Resources and Improving Environmental Quality. Annu Rev Environ Resour. 2002;27:535-580.

Cordell D, Drangert JO, White S. The Story of Phosphorus: Global Food Security and Food for Thought. Global Environ Change. 2009;19(2):292-305.

Chawla L. Educating for Sustainability in Primary Schools: Teaching for the Future. J Sci Educ Technol. 2002;11(4):293-303.

Swanson BE. Extension Strategies for Poverty Alleviation: Lessons from China and India. J Agric Educ Ext. 2008;14(2):137-147.

Feder G, Just RE, Zilberman D. Adoption of Agricultural Innovations in Developing Countries: A Survey. Econ Dev Cult Change. 2004;33(2):255-298.

Hobbs PR, Morris ML. Farmer Advisory Service: A Strategy for Improving Maize Technology in Developing Countries. J Agric Educ Ext. 1996;3(2):115-128.

Pretty J, Hine R. Reducing Food Poverty with Sustainable Agriculture: A Summary of New Evidence. Final Report from the SAFE-World Research Project. University of Essex; 2001.

Tilman D, Cassman KG, Matson PA, Naylor R, Polasky S. Agricultural Sustainability and Intensive Production Practices. Nature. 2002;418(6898):671-677.

Pannell DJ, Marshall GR, Barr N, Curtis A, Vanclay F, Wilkinson R. Understanding and Promoting Adoption of Conservation Practices by Rural Landholders. Aust J Exp Agric. 2006;46(11):1407-1424.

Flora SJ, Mittal M, Mehta A. Heavy Metal Induced Oxidative Stress & Its Possible Reversal by Chelation Therapy. Indian J Med Res. 2012;128(4):501-523.

Foley JA, Ramankutty N, Brauman KA, Cassidy ES, Gerber JS, Johnston M, et al. Solutions for a Cultivated Planet. Nature. 2011;478(7369):337-342.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Sustainable Development Goals. 2019. Available from: http://www.fao.org/sustainable-development-goals/en/

Fraser ED, Dougill AJ, Mabee WE, Reed M, McAlpine P. Bottom Up and Top Down: Analysis of Participatory Processes for Sustainability Indicator Identification as a Pathway to Community Empowerment and Sustainable Environmental Management. J Environ Manag. 2018;107:135-144.

Abbas R, Zaib M, Haider K, Ali M, Abbasi R, Hassan M, et al. Remediation of Heavy Metal Contaminated Sites by Application of Biochar: A Review with Future Prospects. Int J Sci Res Eng Dev. 2023;05:59-73.

Afzal A, Zubair H, Ali U, Nawaz M, Mansoor A, Zaib M, et al. Mechanisms of Disease Resistance in Plants for Sustainable Agriculture. Curr Res Agric Farm. 2023;4(5):1-13. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.18782/2582-7146.207

Afzal AH, Zubair H, Abid S, Shahzaib M, Hassan M, Khalid S, et al. Impacts of Water Logging on Soil Microbial Intentions and Mung Bean (Vigna radiata L.) Physiology. Indian J Pure Appl Biosci. 2023;11(6):68-79. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.18782/2582-2845.9036

Marschner H. Mineral Nutrition of Higher Plants. Academic Press; 2012.

Alloway BJ. Heavy Metals in Soils: Trace Metals and Metalloids in Soils and Their Bioavailability. Springer; 2004.

Zaib M, Adnan M. Phytoremediation: A Comprehensive Look at Soil Decontamination Techniques. Int J Contemp Issues Soc Sci. 2024;3(1):998-1029.

Zaib M, Zubair H, Nawaz M, Haider K, Abbas R, Hassan M, et al. Remediation of Saline Soils by Application of Biochar: A Review. J Agric Environ Sci. 2023;(3&4):29-36.

Zaib M, Aryan M, Ullah H. Innovative Inorganic Pollutant Bioremediation Approaches for Industrial Wastewater Treatment: A Review. Int J Sci Res Eng Dev. 2023;6(4):1294-1304.

Zaib M, Sandhu M, Zar M, Ghani U, Rehman A, Musharraf M, et al. A Brief Review on Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria (PGPR): A Key Role in Plant Growth. Int Res J Educ Technol. 2023;05(07):104-126.

Zaib M, Zeeshan A, Akram H, Amjad W, Aslam S, Qasim S, et al. Innovative Approaches Utilizing Plant-Based Techniques for Soil Conservation: An In-depth Review. Int Res J Educ Technol. 2023;05(08):319-330.

Zaib M, Zeeshan A, Akram H, Amjad W, Bano S, Ilyas A, et al. Drought Stress and Plants Production: A Review with Future Prospects. Int J Sci Res Eng Dev. 2023;6(04):1278-93.

Zaib M, Zubair H, Akbar H, Zahra M, Ali U, Afzal A, et al. Emerging Trends in Biofortification for Microelement Enrichment in Crop Edibles: Implications for Health. Curr Res Agric Farm. 2024;4:15-24. doi: 10.18782/2582-7146.204.

Zaib M, Zubair M, Aryan M, Abdullah M, Manzoor S, Masood F, et al. A Review on Challenges and Opportunities of Fertilizer Use Efficiency and Their Role in Sustainable Agriculture with Future Prospects and Recommendations. Curr Res Agric Farm. 2023;4(4):1-14. doi: 10.18782/2582-7146.201.

Zaib M, Zubair M, Mumtaz S, Shaheen C, Muqaddas A, Sarwar R, et al. Trace Elements Behavior in Salt-Affected Soils: A Review. Int J Sci Res Eng Dev. 2023;6(05):73-81.

Zaib M, Zubair M, Nawaz S, Haider W, Shafiq M, Cheema Q, et al. In-Situ Remediation Strategies to Treat Polluted Water: A Review. Int Res J Educ Technol. 2023;5(08):331-43.

Zaib M, Farooq U, Adnan M, Sajjad S, Abbas Z, Haider K, et al. Optimization Water Stress in Crop Plants, Implications for Sustainable Agriculture: Current and Future Prospects. J Environ Agric Sci. 2023;25(1&2):37-50.

Flora SJ, Mittal M, Mehta A. Heavy Metal Induced Oxidative Stress & Its Possible Reversal by Chelation Therapy. Indian J Med Res. 2012;128(4):501-523.

Zaib M, Hassan MM, Haseeb MH, Zeeshan A. Soil Microbes and Human Health: A Comprehensive Review. Int J Contemp Issues Soc Sci. 2024;3(1):939-951.

Zaib M, Raza I, Zubair M, Arif Z, Mumtaz M, Abbas MQ, et al. Nano-Enabled Soil Amendments for Improved Soil Structure and Water Holding Capacity: An In-depth Review. Int Res J Educ Technol. 2023;05(08):344-357.

Zaib M, Aryan M, Khaliq A, Haider K, Ahmad S, Zeeshan A, et al. Essential Insights for Effective Environmental Management and Human Well-being: Strategies for Remediation in Soil-Plant- Environment Systems. J Asian Dev Stud. 2023;12(03):1-17.

Zaib M, Ibrahim M, Aryan M, Mustafa R, Zubair M, Mumtaz S, et al. Long-Term Efficacy of Biochar-Based Immobilization for Remediation of Heavy Metal-Contaminated Soil and Environmental Factors Impacting Remediation Performance. Int J Sci Res Eng Dev. 2023;06(05):58-72.

Raza I, Zubair M, Zaib M, Khalil MH, Haidar A, Sikandar A, et al. Precision Nutrient Application Techniques to Improve Soil Fertility and Crop Yield: A Review with Future Prospect. Int Res J Educ Technol. 2023;05(08):109-123.

Robertson GP, Vitousek PM. Nitrogen in Agriculture: Balancing the Cost of an Essential Resource. Annu Rev Environ Resour. 2009;34:97-125.

Rosen CJ. Fertilizers and Their Role in Modern Agriculture: Enhancing Crop Productivity. J Agric Sci. 2018;10(12):1-10.

Drinkwater LE, Wagoner P, Sarrantonio M. Legume-Based Cropping Systems Have Reduced Carbon and Nitrogen Losses. Nature. 1998;396(6708):262-265.

Dodds WK, Jones JR, Welch EB. Sustaining Our Water Resources: What Does the Future Hold? Water Sci Technol. 2008;57(9):137-144.

Ju X, Kou C, Zhang F, Christie P. Nitrogen Balance and Groundwater Nitrate Contamination: Comparison Among Three Intensive Cropping Systems on the North China Plain. Environ Pollut. 2015;200:91-99.

Singh A, Sharma RK, Agrawal M, Marshall FM. Health Risk Assessment of Heavy Metals via Dietary Intake of Foodstuffs from the Wastewater Irrigated Site of a Dry Tropical Area of India. Food Chem Toxicol. 2015;77:82-91.

DeFries RS, Asner GP, Houghton RA, Field CB. Land Use Change and Biogeochemical Controls of Nitrogen Oxide Emissions from Soils in Eastern Amazonia. Global Biogeochem Cycles. 2004;18(GB2022).

Most read articles by the same author(s)