Fertilizers and household plant foods


Plant fertilizers are mildly toxic (usually vomiting and diarrhea) in small doses, though larger doses can be harmful to children and skin exposure may cause severe burns.

Poisonous Ingredient 

  • nitrates  
  • nitrites

Where Found 

  • various fertilizers


  • skin       o redness       o itching       o burning  
  • gastrointestinal       o stomach upset       o stomach pain

Home Treatment 
Call the Poison Control center for guidance. DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING UNLESS INSTRUCTED TO DO SO! Give milk or water to dilute the poison. Wash from the skin or eyes.

Before Calling Emergency 
Determine the following information:

  • the patient’s age, weight, and condition  
  • the name of the product (ingredients and strengths if known)  
  • the time it was swallowed  
  • the amount swallowed

Poison Control, or a local emergency number 
They will instruct you if it is necessary to take the patient to the hospital. See Poison Control centers for telephone numbers and addresses. Take the container with you to the emergency room.

What to expect at the emergency room 
Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:

  • Dilute with fluids.  
  • Treat the symptoms.

Expectations (prognosis) 
The ultimate outcome depends on how much was ingested, how soon it was diluted, and how soon proper medical care was administered. Fertilizers are unlikely to cause serious harm unless burns or an allergic reaction occur.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 7, 2012
by Mamikon Bozoyan, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.