Ok I know we’re not supposed to use the “d-word,” but it may be momentarily necessary for the sake of making my point, so my apologies. Anyway, I remember as a child coming home messy after pretending to plant my own garden or playing in mud puddles, and after my grandpa would yell at me, grammy would always say “God made dirt. Dirt don’t hurt.” My mom takes the silliness a little farther when she feels constantly necessary to tell people that she attributes any and all of my successes to the fertilizer in the house plant soil I used to eat handfuls of as a toddler. As I think about this all, and still not knowing an exceptional amount about soil, I begin to wonder if dirt really does hurt, or if my mom and grandma were possibly right…
Obviously most common backyard garden fertilizers are going to be harmful if consumed, but I decided to go on a mission to find out if soil contains any toxins we may not commonly know about. Here is something I found:
According to the Nitrate Elimination Company, Incorporated, the chemical Nitrate (NO3), the most oxidized natural form of nitrogen, contaminates widespread amounts of soil and water supplies world wide. This accumulation stems from run off from overuse of nitrogen fertilizers, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, and poorly treated human waste facilities (gross!). The company states additionally that “nitrate-containing wastes are produced by many idustrial processes including paper and munitions manufacturing. Burning of fossil fuels in power plants and cars, SUVs and all internal combustion engines also results in the production of nitric acid and ammonia as air pollution.”
Now that you know a little bit about Nitrate contamination, think back to that time in your childhood when you inevitably ate something you dropped in the soil (or if you’re anything like me, just ate plain old soil). Nitrate raises potential human health risks, especially for infants. Consumption may result in a condition called Methemoglobinemia, or more commonly known as “blue baby syndrome.” “Nitrate is converted in the gut to nitrite, which then combines with hemoglobin to form methemoglobin, thus decreasing the ability of the blood to carry oxygen.” While the disease more often effects small children, an unintentional overconsumption of Nitrate through soil, foods grown in soil, or water infected by the run off of soil can contaminate anyone.
So although I hope none of us still eat dirt on a daily basis, try to remember some day when you have kids, that dirt actually can hurt.
Oh and GO STEELERS!!!!