The nitrates and nitrites in plant fertilizer, also called plant food, are dangerous to people, especially infants and young children. The toxicity of the dose is determined by how much plant fertilizer an infant or child ingests. In some cases, ingesting plant fertilizer can be fatal, because the chemicals in fertilizers limit the amount of oxygen received by the brain. Call 911 or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 if you know or suspect a baby has ingested plant fertilizer.
Ingesting plant fertilizer causes burning of the skin, throat, nose and eyes, as well as dizziness, fainting and seizures. Babies and other victims may also experience shortness of breath, blue fingernails or lips, stomach pain, upset stomach or low blood pressure. Getting plant fertilizer on your skin or eyes may cause skin redness, skin itchiness or a burning sensation.
Call 911 or the National Poison Control Center if a baby has swallowed plant fertilizer. Read the label to figure out what is in the fertilizer, and try to determine how much was swallowed. Flush away any fertilizer on the skin or eyes with cold water. Move the baby to fresh air, if necessary. Don't make the victim throw up unless you have been instructed to do so. If the victim can swallow, give her water or milk. However, don't give liquids to victims who may not be able to swallow because of convulsions, vomiting or other symptoms.
Tests and Treatment
Doctors measure a poisoned baby's vital signs, such as his pulse and blood pressure, and treat symptoms depending on the severity of the poisoning. For example, doctors may administer an antidote, give fluids intravenously, and provide breathing support through a breathing tube.
Storing plant fertilizer safely decreases the risk of accidental ingestion. Keep fertilizers and other chemicals, such as pesticides, in a locked cupboard, closet or room that children can't reach. Write the date of purchase on the fertilizer and keep it tightly closed after opening. Don't buy more fertilizer than you can use in a year. Rinse empty containers before throwing them away, and don't let children play with containers that contain chemicals or have held chemicals.