Compost – Can be a Danger to Your Health!
On the 30th May, the Daily Telegraph reported that the contents of a back-yard compost bin had burst into flames which quickly spread to the back of the house, doing considerable damage. Grass cuttings had caused the compost to over-heat and self-combust in the hot weather. Eight fire engines and support vehicles were in attendance – expensive!
Gardeners were urged to turn heaps, move bins into the shade and to make sure they are sited away from buildings. I reckon that regular damping-down would help, too.
Gardeners have also been warned to wash their hands after using compost to avoid a rare strain of legionnaires’ disease. In New Zealand and Australia, bags of compost carry warnings that gloves should be worn when handling. We are also advised that if the compost has dried out and is dusty, it should be damped down and a mask should be worn to prevent the inhalation of dust and any toxic agents that may be present.
Personally, I do none of these things, except maybe wearing gardening gloves from time to time. I guess, though, it doesn’t hurt to err on the side of caution!