Regarding fertilizers, a little known loophole in state and federal regulations has been skillfully manipulated for profit at your expense. Actually, at your health's expense. Environmentally polluting companies have deceptively declared they are recycling in order to divert millions of pounds of toxic industrial waste from expensive EPA disposal facilities to plant food production facilities.
It is another loophole (plant food labeling regulations) and soft money contributions that enable these companies to profit while they poison hundreds of thousands of people and saddle them with serious health problems. Labeling is inadequate, because federal labeling laws only require beneficial nutrients like Zinc or Phosphate to be listed. Fertilizers are sold directly to the public without warnings or information that would inform consumers about the presence or quantity of toxic heavy metals.
It was the mayor of a small Washington state town, Patty Martin, who initially uncovered the disturbing truth. Her book "Fatal Harvest" details the story and sparked an investigative report by the "Seattle Times" which has brought the entire matter to a head. The Times documented nationwide use of plant food and lawn fertilizers containing cadmium, lead, arsenic, dioxins, radio-nuclides and other hazardous waste.
Between 1990 and 1995, 600 companies from 44 states sent 270 million pounds of toxic waste to food production facilities and plant food companies across the country. Tests by the State of Washington found that some of the material contained levels of dioxin 100 times greater than the level allowed for treated Superfund sites in the state.
Besides the obvious immediate health concerns, one must consider the long term environmental damage done to millions of acres of farmland. Fruit and grain crops have been proven to uptake lead, and wheat crops and lettuce will uptake Cadmium. These companies are producing fertilizers from toxic wastes that farming facilities are spreading over millions of acres of food crop producing land in this country.
These products contain 9 metals, like Arsenic and Lead, that are known to cause cancer. 10 of the metals found, such as Mercury, are linked to birth and developmental defects. At least three metals- Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury, are toxins which persist for very long periods of time and can accumulate in the tissues of humans and wildlife over time to become a toxic condition even at lower levels.
Another group, the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG), conducted a study that illuminated just how serious and widespread the problem really is. They tested 29 products from 12 states for 22 toxic metals. ALL of the 29 samples were shown to contain ALL 22 toxic metals. In 20 of the samples, the levels were higher than levels for concern.
If you thought the tobacco company lawsuits were big, well this great injustice is exactly on par with it. However, despite the fact that the risks to public health are real and severe, you will likely hear very little of this scandal. Too many politicians and big business have too great a financial stake in it. Not only are people saving themselves the costly expense of EPA hazardous waste disposal, but they are profiting from its sale. The very nature of these profits leave them open to any number of dirty back-door money deals.
In conclusion, when I first learned of this it scared the hell out of me. The Washington State Department of Agriculture has just recently set up a division to have every fertilizer in their state tested and the results published on the internet. I suggest you do as I did, and go to the WSDA website immediately to check every product you use (don't forget to check your lawn care products!). Otherwise, stick with me here at Jason's Indoor Guide. I guarantee that every product and method I recommend, I also use myself (and has satisfied my very thorough safety check).