General safety considerations regarding fertilizers

Nature of ingredients
  • Mixtures may contain ammonium nitrate or Urea and some or all of the following ingredients: phosphates, potassium salts, inert fillers (such as limestone), coating materials, secondary nutrients. Concentrations of ingredients vary according to fertilizer grades.
Human Health
  • The fertilizers are basically harmless products when handled correctly. However, the following points should be noted.
Skin Contact
  • Prolonged contact may cause some irritation.
Eye Contact
  • May cause irritation following contact.
  • Small quantities are unlikely to cause any toxic effect.
  • Large quantities may give rise to gastro-intestinal disorders and in extreme case (particularly in children) formation of methaemoglobin (‘blue bay’ syndrome) and cyanosis (indicated by blueness around the mouth) may occur.
  • High dust concentrations of air-borne material may cause irritation of the nose and upper respiratory tract with symptoms such as sore throat and coughing.
Long term effects
  • No adverse effects are known
  • As this fertilizer contains nitrate and phosphate, heavy spillage may cause adverse environmental impact such as eutrophication in confined surface waters or nitrate contamination of ground or surface water.
Fire, heating and detonation
  • The fertilizers are not themselves combustible but, they can support combustion even in the absence of air. When strongly heated, they melt and decompose.
  • Heating of fertilizers under strong confinement (e.g. in tubes or drains) may lead to a violent reaction or explosion.
  • On decomposition, water vapour and toxic gases such as nitrogen oxides, ammonia, chlorine and hydrogen chloride may be given off.


Skin Contact
  • Wash the affected area with soap and water
Eye Contact
  • Flush/irrigate eyes with copious amounts of water for at least 10 minutes.
  • Obtain medical attention if eye irritation persists.
  • Do not induce vomiting.
  • Give water or milk to drink
  • Obtain medical attention if more than a small quantity has been swallowed.
  • Remove from source of exposure to dusts.
  • Obtain medical attention if ill effects occur.


Fire and decomposition products
Skin contact
  • Wash areas in contact with molten material copiously with cold water.
  • Obtain medical attention.
  • Remove from the source of exposure to fumes.
  • Keep warm and at rest even though no symptoms may be evident.
  • Give oxygen, especially if there is blueness around the mouth.
  • Artificial respiration should only be applied if breathing fails.
  • Following exposure, the person should be kept under medical review for at least 48 hours as delayed pulmonary oedema may develop.


If fertilizer is not directly involved in the fire;
Use the best means available to extinguish the fire.
If fertilizer is involved in the fire;
  • Call the fire brigade.
  • Avoid breathing the fumes (toxic). Stand up-wind of the fire.
  • Use a self-contained breathing apparatus if fumes are being entered.
  • Use plenty of water.
  • Do not use chemical extinguishers or foams or attempt to smother the fire with steam or sand.
  • Open doors and windows of the store to give maximum ventilation.
  • Do not allow molten fertilizers to run into drains
  • Prevent any contamination of fertilizer by oils or other combustible materials.
  • If water containing fertilizer enters any drains or watercourse, inform the local authorities immediately.
  • If fertilizer stored in bulk is decomposing, use a special self-propelled water lance to penetrate the heap to the seat of decomposition.


  • Any spillage of fertilizer should be cleaned up promptly, swept up and placed in a clean, labeled, open container for safe disposal. Do not allow to mix with sawdust and other combustible or organic substances.
  • Depending on the degree and nature of contamination, dispose of by use as a fertilizer on farm or to an authorized waste facility.
  • Take care to avoid the contamination of watercourses and drains and inform the appropriate authority in case of accidental contamination of watercourses.


  • Avoid excessive generation of dust.
  • Avoid contamination by combustible (e.g. diesel oil, grease, etc.) and incompatible materials.
  • Avoid unnecessary exposure to the atmosphere to prevent moisture pick-up.
  • Wear gloves when handling the product over long periods.


  • Locate away from the sources of heat or fire.
  • Keep away from combustible materials and substances. On farm, ensure that the fertilizer is not stored near hay, straw, grain, diesel oil, etc.
  • Ensure high standard of housekeeping in the storage area.
  • Do not permit smoking and the use of naked lights in the storage areas.
  • Restrict stack size (according to local regulations) and keep at least 1 m distance around the stacks of bagged products.
  • Any building used for the storage should be dry and well ventilated.
  • Where the nature of the bagged product and climatic conditions so require, store under conditions that will avoid product breakdown by thermal cycling (wide variation in temperature).
Personal Protection
  • Wear suitable gloves when handling the product over long periods.
  • Use suitable dust respirator if dust concentration is high.
  • After handling product, wash hands and observe good hygiene practice.
The product is stable under normal conditions of storage, handling and use.
Conditions to avoid
  • Contamination by incompatible materials.
  • Unnecessary exposure to the atmosphere.
  • Closeness to sources of heat or fire.
  • Welding or hot work on equipment or plant which may have contained fertilizer without first washing thoroughly to remove all fertilizer.
Materials to avoid
  • Combustible materials, reducing agents, acids, alkalis, chlorates, chlorides, chromates, nitrites, permanganates, metallic powders and substances containing metals such as copper, nickel, cobalt, zinc and their alloys.
Hazardous reactions/decomposition products
  • When in contact with alkaline material such as lime, may give off ammonia gas.
A complete Material Safety Data Sheet is available on demand for the different types of straight, compound and complex fertilizers that is manufactured by MCFI.