Why are crop fields a concern?
An estimated 88,000 U.S. farmers each year produce $100 billion worth of crops, including corn, soybeans, hay, wheat, and cotton. Successful crop production may use or produce materials that can have harmful environmental and health effects.
Plant nutrients are essential for crop production and come from fertilizers, manure, and sometimes sewage sludge. If these materials are improperly applied to crop fields, they can wash off the fields with rain or melted snow. This agricultural runoff can cause water quality problems both locally and downstream. Overuse of fertilizers can contaminate groundwater, lakes, rivers, and streams. Excess nutrients in lakes, rivers, or other bodies of water can cause harmful algae blooms.
If pesticides are used on crop fields, farm workers can be exposed to them. Pesticides can leach into the soil and contaminate groundwater, lakes, rivers, and streams.
Other concerns with crop fields include particulate matter, which is emitted into the air from tilled fields. Propane is sometimes used for weed control in corn, soybeans, cotton, tobacco, and strawberries.
Safety concerns on crop fields include tractor, vehicle, and machinery accidents.
This description is based on the information found in the Web links listed with this topic.
Web Links from MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine)
Farm Health and Safety
Crop Production (Environmental Protection Agency)
Droughts and Health (National Library of Medicine)
Food Safety Begins on the Farm (Cornell University) (PDF — 5.51 MB)
Harvest Safety (University of Maine Cooperative Extension)
Nutrient Management and Fertilizer (Environmental Protection Agency)
Chemicals in Crop Fields
Are these chemicals in MY community?
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Last Updated: November 19, 2013