Sign up to receive email updates, action alerts, health tips, promotions to support our work and more from EWG. You can opt-out at any time. [Privacy]


Factory Farming

Sunday, March 1, 1998

Factory Farming

Toxic Waste and Fertilizer in the United States, 1990-1995

View and Download the report here: Factory Farming

Every year, polluting industries send millions of pounds of waste materials to fertilizer companies, presumably for use as raw materials in fertilizer production. Even though these wastes are often laden with toxic metal and chemical impurities, fertilizer manufacturers use steel mill smokestack ash and air pollution scrubber brine, and other industrial byproducts as the raw materials for a substantial portion of the nation’s fertilizers.

In theory, fertilizers applied to farm fields are subject to the same toxic chemical contamination standards as those applied to waste headed for toxic chemical dump sites. In practice, however, there is almost no monitoring of fertilizer or soil contamination levels, and contamination levels may be much higher than allowed by these loosely enforced standards. Highly contaminated fertilizer can render cropland sterile, harm the health of farmers and their families, and even threaten the food supply.

Key Issues: