Mi­cro-or­gan­isms in mulches and com­posts can trig­ger pneu­mo­nia

Irish Independent - Health & Living - - UPDATE -

COM­POST, pot­ting mix, mulches and com­posted green waste can be a source of com­mu­nity-ac­quired pneu­mo­nia.

Gar­den­ers should bear in mind that com­post and other soils can con­tain a large amount of mi­cro-or­gan­isms (bac­te­ria/bugs), ac­cord­ing to Ire­land’s dis­ease watch­dog, the Health Pro­tec­tion Sur­veil­lance Cen­tre.

While the risk of be­com­ing un­well through gar­den­ing ac­tiv­i­ties re­mains low, warm weather may lead to favourable con­di­tions for bac­te­ria growth in pot­ting com­post gen­er­ally used in gar­den­ing.

In­fec­tion can then oc­cur by the in­hala­tion of con­tam­i­nated dust or wa­ter droplets or the in­ges­tion of bac­te­ria via dirty hands. Tips to avoid in­fec­tion in­clude:

Stor­ing the pot­ting com­post in a cool place away from the sun to limit growth of bac­te­ria

Al­ways fol­low the man­u­fac­turer’s safety in­struc­tions on the bag

llUse a dis­pos­able dust mask to avoid breath­ing in dusts (par­tic­u­larly if work­ing in­doors)

Wear gloves and wash your hands im­me­di­ately af­ter work­ing with com­post/pot­ting mix

Wear eye pro­tec­tion such as good qual­ity sun­glasses or gog­gles/safety glasses

Open bags at arm’s length, us­ing a safety blade or sharp knife, in a well ven­ti­lated area/ ideally out­doors

Don’t shake or stir the bag be­fore open­ing it as this will pro­duce dust par­ti­cles which may be in­haled. Dampen con­tents of the bag care­fully be­fore use by spray­ing wa­ter into the bag — do this by mak­ing a small hole in the bag and in­sert­ing a gar­den hose to dampen pot­ting mix/com­post to avoid cre­at­ing dust

Keep doors open in green­houses or sheds when pot­ting plants or fill­ing hang­ing bas­kets or do the work out­side Clean up com­post by sweep­ing while damp to re­duce dust.

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