Copyright © 1997 The Seattle Times Company
Friday, July 4, 1997

Two approaches to toxins in fertilizer

Canada and the United States have taken very different approaches to regulating fertilizers. U.S. rules reflect an approach that the practice of recycling hazardous wastes into fertilizers is OK until proved unsafe, while Canada's position is to be cautious until the practice is proved safe. Most European nations have taken an approach similar to Canada's.

Canada

U.S.

Legislation: Regulated nationally by the Federal Fertilizers Act. No national regulation; state-by-state laws that vary greatly.
Limits: Specific limits for lead, arsenic, cadmium and five other toxic chemicals.

No specific
limits.

Testing: Requires tests every six months for nutrients and nine toxic chemicals in recycled and micronutrient fertilizers. Tests for all ingredients when product is registered to sell, but never again tests for toxic materials.
Sources: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, American Association of Plant Food Control Officials, The Fertilizer Institute, World Health Organization

Let us know what you think. E-mail Duff Wilson at dwil-new@seatimes.com

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  • Examples throughout the country
  • Tag-along toxics
  • From factories to fields
  • Chart: heavy metals in fertilizers
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  • Experts: How to reduce risk
  • Resources on the World Wide Web
  • Here are some officials to call or write