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Fertilizers Long-Term Threat to Drinking Water
Even if farmers stopped using nitrogen fertilizers today, levels of dangerous nitrates in rivers and lakes would remain high for decades, researchers report.

Canadian scientists analyzed more than 2,000 soil samples from the Mississippi River Basin and found an accumulation of nitrogen. This buildup was not evident in the upper "plow" layer, but instead was found 2 inches to 8 inches beneath the soil surface.

Nitrogen fertilizers have been contaminating rivers and lakes and getting into drinking water wells for more than 80 years, the researchers said. Nitrates in drinking water pose a number of health risks, they added.

Their findings suggest that this nitrogen could still find its way into waterways decades after being applied to the fields.


 
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