Excessive use of nitrogenous fertilizers: an unawareness causing serious threats to environment and human health

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2017 Dec;24(35):26983-26987. doi: 10.1007/s11356-017-0589-7. Epub 2017 Nov 14.


Farmers occasionally need to add nitrogen fertilizer to their farms and gardens to make available just the precise nutrients for their plants' growth. The applications of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers to various crops have been continuously increasing since last many decades globally. Although nitrogen fertilizer contributes substantially to yield enhancement, but excessive use of this manure has posed serious threats to environment and human health. Rate of nitrogen fertilizers application has a close relationship with nitrate accumulation in surrounding environment, groundwater, as well as leafy and root vegetables. Consumption of diets having high nitrate contents has contributed to endogenous nitrosation, which could lead to thyroid condition, various kinds of human cancers, neural tube defects (during fetus development), and diabetes. In this short review, the authors have tried to create awareness among general public, farming community, health practitioners, and agricultural scientists for the risk involved with excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers to human health. Carcinogenic activity and other adverse effects of N-nitroso compounds might be prevented by consuming vitamin C and antioxidants containing fruits and vegetables.

Keywords: Cancer; Environment; Inorganic fertilizer; N-nitroso compounds; Nitrate toxicity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / methods*
  • Crops, Agricultural / chemistry
  • Crops, Agricultural / growth & development*
  • Fertilizers / analysis*
  • Groundwater / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Manure / analysis
  • Nitrates / analysis
  • Nitrogen / analysis*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Soil / chemistry


  • Fertilizers
  • Manure
  • Nitrates
  • Soil
  • Nitrogen