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Proposals by the previous gov't to phase out peat use by amateurs by 2020 and professionals by 2030 are just that. Proposals. I foresee that with the problems with recycled rubbish being rubbish at growing stuff, then a lot of  amateur gardeners will be using professional products. I already do.


I think a sense of perspective is needed here.  A lot of research is done on a very small scale and often in another country and has no bearing here which is also important to remember.There's constant scaremongering and knee jerk reactions to far too much in our current  'Nanny state' society and too many pointless, not fully investigated research and endless statistics fill our newspapers and tv/radio reports. 24 hour 'news' has a lot to answer for.

Next month we'll get told we can spread it on our toast.

What we should be objecting to is the  poor quality of compost that many of us have bought this year.Overpriced, inconsistent  and in smaller bags. 


Well said FG, people jump off at the deep end whenever another 'scare' story comes along - get a grip people


Journalists love a good scare story, they sell papers. What little information there is can be manipulated to fit the story they want to tell.

But we have to accept that the world is not sterile, in spite of all those killing sprays for home and garden. We have to accept a few dangers or we'd do nothing and die of boredom instead


flowering rose

leigionnaires  is found in showers and taps and in nice moist enviroment thats warm.In the hospital we had to run  the taps and showers for 2mins each week to clear the pipes of this threat among many.With anything it is wise to take procautions by wearing gloves and a mask .I have worked in many situations where the threat was very real (including swine flu)and to be sure good protection is a must .So with anything even gardening you would be silly not to.

It has been known for a while that Legionnaires can be present in compost, but also fungal spores can be inhaled from compost, and can cause Aspergilliosis.

There was an article in the Lancet a while back, by a doctor who treated a gardener in my nearest A & E at Wycombe - unfortunately the patient died.

It's not only The Mail reporting this - see also the link " information: compost.html"

Whilst it's fun to have a laugh on these forums, and the chances of anyone catching one of these diseases is very remote, these dangers exist and are certainly nothing to joke about. 

Think I will go to another thread to cheer myself up -sorry for the lesson everybody!



I know, and I expect eveyone else does, that it's all out there but if I worried about all the things the papers tell me to worry about, 1. I'd stop doing anything and 2. I'd be too busy worrying to see the non-predicted disaster arriving

I am always filled with good intentions.  However, I forget my gloves, drop my compost so plums of dry compost flies in the air, I cut myself on a regular basis.  Sometimes you just have to enjoy your gardening and figure you are not going to live forever.  Not that any of us want to die of stupidity.  I do think however, the butter on my toast will probably get me before the compost. 


It would help if the composts that had L. longbeachia were identified. As it is, all are suspected. It is like saying there is horsemeat in some burgers, and then not identifying which supermarket or product.

Were these made from Peat,bark, coir, or recycled  green waste?

Australian products have warnings on, but have a different composition, they have more sawdust in, which apparently is more likely to harbour the pathogens.

Wouldn't  it be better if any suspect materials were sterilised before packaging?

Bonemeal is usually sterilised before being packaged for garden use, because of the possibility of anthrax being passed on.


Only anthrax, fb, what about mad cow disease?!


I think you have to eat it to get mad cow disease.

Anthrax forms spores which can be inhaled.  There was an outbreak last year amongst heroin users. Something nasty was being used to  cut the neat heroin. They were then injecting it or smoking it. Five people died even though it can be treated with antibiotics if caught early enough.

I thought all composts were sterilised before packaged and sold? they used to be.

I think there is more to it than seems to have been reported, as I recall legionnaires disease is only transmitted by inhalation of infected water droplets which are found in a relatively fine spray mist (my dad was a building services engineer and occasionally had to rush to work at odd times to sort out HVAC systems that had found to be harbouring it), not by inhaling dry soil dust. I'm no biologist (engineer) but I reckon there must have been sprayed water involved (watering in the bought compost?) as well as the compost. I think if you buy dry compost and water it with a can there should be no problem, in fact I doubt if wet compost poses any health risk unless you are doing something to make the water in it turn to spray mist.

Looking at that most reliable of internet sources , wikipedia, it seems there are 2 strains of legionella - the one that causes legionnaires is only found in water, the one that is found in soil leads to pontiac fever - I'm sure it is no less dangerous but it just goes to show that the papers have probably reported the wrong disease, either through poor research or because no-one has heard of pontiac fever.....

However since my research is what I remember my dad telling me several years ago, and wikipedia, I'm in no position to call the papers research sloppy!


Roy Hill

Boater - for more info on Pontiac fever?


I think the hpa may be a more reliable source. According to the hpa "Pontiac fever is a mild flu-like illness caused be legionella bacteria, often affecting previously healthy and young individuals. Symptoms can include fever, headaches and muscle aches but, unlike Legionnaires' disease, Pontiac fever does not cause pneumonia.  The illness will usually clear up without treatment within two to three days."

Sounds to me that Pontiac fever is nowhere near as dangerous/serious as Legionaires' disease.

(The HPA link was thrown up via a quick Google using "Pontiac fever" as a seaqrch phrase. The HPA could be considered more, um, reliable. The HPA article on Pontiac Fever mentions four separate species of Legionella bacteria. Their ;ink for Legionnaires is )


Roy Hill

Out of interest the Beeb reported the  on October 1st - before the Daily Mail.

Pathogens (anything that can cause disease) are everywhere. Gardeners and agriculture use them extensively (a subset of 'biological controls'). Some pathogens are favourable to gardeners/horticulture as they provide 'breaks' in new sports of plants.

Fidgetbones? Peat is  a recycled product, but it is one which takes a long time to get from the original state to something which resembles that which comes in a plastic bag from the garden centre. Extraction exceeds creation. I've walked around some old peat workings and they are not pretty sights (even after remedial action).


A little perspective perhaps?  

Around 350 people get Legionnaires disease each year.  That's roughly 1 per day and we're talking about 5 cases.  That's around 1.4% of all cases of a disease that affects about 0.0005% of the population.  Legionnaires kills around 13% of victims  (although usually it is an underlying condition that kills the patient).  So the disease kills around 0.000065% of the population (or about 1 in 1.5m people).

There were almost 9000 alcohol related deaths in the UK in 2010 (about 1 in 8000 people).


The HPA has more information on the 'aerosolisation' needed to transmit the disease:

It seems that to be small enough to cause infection the mist droplets actually evaporate to a form dry nucleus containing the bacteria, no mention that fine enough particles can be created entirely dry though, looks like there is always water involved.Of course you do need to water compost so I guess that must be the risk time?


Farmer- absolutely. Perspective is what's needed. I'm  more likely to get squished crossing the road. Look how many road deaths there are every year. We're getting to the point where no one will set foot out their back doors. 

And next week it'll be something else...bacon, jam, socks....

whatever happened to bird flu anyway???