10 Harmful Effects of Household Chemicals on Plant Growth

Household chemical is the type of chemical that simplifies house general activity. This activity excludes any food-related chemicals like food additives and coloring. The most common household chemicals used exist in list of harmful chemicals in toiletries, laundry stuff, and insect repellent. They usually contain a smaller percentage of active agent but still can cause fatal effects if accidentally ingested.

Generally, household chemical is either flammable, irritate or corrosive. (Also read: Examples of Corrosive Household Chemicals)

Chemicals that fall under household chemical are:

There are many studies that suggest household chemical effects to the environment, this is due to the constant daily use in a long time. A small amount of chemical that potentially hazardous can be accumulated and cause the unwanted outcomes.

For example, the used laundry agents and toiletries are commonly disposed of by pouring them down the drains which will allow it to seep into the soil and later to the water supply that needed for plants.

Effects of Household Chemicals on Plant Growth

Plants are producers in the food chain and the rest of components are highly dependent on its existence. Problems that occur to plants will eventually affect the whole ecosystem.

Here are some problem caused by household chemicals to plants :

1. Unbalancing the soil pH

Even if ammonia naturally presents in soil and plays an important role to plant growth, diluted ammonia that comes from household chemical can trigger alkaline condition in the soil. Over time, which can be as soon as several days, it’s converted to nitrate, making the soil more acid, which isn’t best for all plants and might create an environment in which plants have difficulty getting the nutrients they need.

Moreover, there is a huge difference of natural ammonia and ammonia that come from the residual household chemical. There are many vague chemicals component with uncertain effects added to it. Thus, that may be many harmful effects of household chemicals on plant growth.

2. Depriving water absorption

Water is a polar molecule, which means it forms hydrogen bonds between the positively charged hydrogen atoms and the negatively charged oxygen atoms. Detergent chemicals prevent the roots from taking up the nutrients they need. This is because of detergent’s properties that a bipolar molecule, both polar and nonpolar. When detergent exists or added into plants water supply, it destroys the surface tension of the water.

This action will weaken the hydrogen bonds of the water molecule and later will make it separate and evaporate. If this condition happens continuously, the plants will be suffocated and die within days.

Antifreeze agent will also do similar effects on plants. antifreeze is made from a substance called ethylene glycol. Ethylene glycol is actually metabolized in plants. Plants have a hormone called ethylene. It is a very important and very strange due to its gaseous state.

Inside plant cells, it is turned into ethylene glycol where it is broken down again. People believe it cannot harm a plant because it is already present in its cell, but that is false. Ethylene glycol dissolves into the water. This changes the solute concentration to a much thicker solute. This makes it harder for the plants to get water for transporting nutrients. 

3. Algae overgrowth

Phosphates were once a popular water-softening material used in laundry detergents and other cleaners. When phosphates enter waterways, it will spawn overgrowth of algae.the overabundance of aquatic plant life will later deplete the water’s oxygen supply, killing off fish and other organisms.

4. Plant cells destruction

Plant cells have two boundaries around the cell; a cell membrane on the inside and a cell wall on the outside of the cell membrane. The cell wall functions to provide a ‘skeleton’ structure to help support the plant cell’s shape and is porous to allow nutrients to flow in and out of the cell.

The cell wall is made of many different types of molecules such as cellulose, cross-linking glycans, gel-like polysaccharides, and lipids. Lipids are usually two layers of molecules which have a similar structure to detergent molecules; a hydrophilic head, and hydrophobic tails.

These molecules share similar characteristics to oils and grease due to their long hydrophobic tails and so are expected to be disrupted, and perhaps broken down by the introduction of detergents to the surrounding water supply of the plant.

If the amount of detergent added to the plants’ water supply is increased, then the mass of the plant will decrease and the color of the plant will become less healthy because the detergent will break down the lipids in the plant cells and destroy some of the plant cells.

5. Reproductive cycle obstruction

Antifreeze is used as a maintenance product for motor vehicles. Motorists can dump antifreeze on the ground or fail to clean up spills. There are some antifreeze on driveways or streets that washes down the gutters and enters the water table. Any antifreeze on driveways or streets eventually washes down the gutters and enters the water table.

Antifreeze in the soil, in the water table, or from a public water tap is then absorbed by plants. Antifreeze first stunts the growth of plants, slows down or halts their reproductive cycle and finally kills them. Plants come into contact through antifreeze in various ways. 

6. Seedling germination and growth interruption

Volatile fatty acids, particularly acetic acid, can accumulate in soil containing plant residues and there is potential for these toxins to inhibit the germination and growth of seedlings. The acids concentration produced in the soil varies depending partly on the distribution of the decaying residues and therefore it is likely to vary along the root systems of seedlings. (Lynch, Gunn and Panting, 1980)

Acetic acid is a colorless liquid organic compound that is the main component of vinegar. This chemical used as a descaling agent to remove limescale from metal surfaces in contact with hot water, such as in boilers, water heaters, and kettles.

7. Herbicidal effect

DEET is the active substance in most mosquito repellent. It has the power to burn the foliage of most any plant. Also, if you spray it in high dose can complete dry out even large plants, then growers would spray milkweed with mosquito repellent with DEET and it would automatically burn the plants down to its ground.

It has limited translocation in the plant so any of the growing points not injured by the spray will develop branches and regrowth will occur.

Meanwhile, there might be some harmful effects of household chemicals on plant growth. As there are some Harmful Effects Of Using Chemical Fertilizers and Pesticides. Thus, people still us List of Banned Agricultural Chemicals that is so danger for both health and environment.