Advice on Legionnaires compost link

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With a number of stories appearing in the media recently linking garden potting compost to Legionnaires disease, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has moved to quell any panic.

While the risk of contracting the disease is "extremely low", the organisation suggested that gardeners with suppressed immune systems take steps to reduce their chances of contracting it even further.

They can do this by wearing gloves while handling soil and other garden materials, not opening bags with their head over them and avoiding potting up in confined spaces.

Other steps include avoiding storing potting compost in greenhouses as this can heat it up to above the 20 degrees C that Legionella needs to multiply.

Similarly, avoid using stored water for irrigation if it is above 20 degrees C as it could have become contaminated.

As always, it is important to wash your hands after gardening - especially when preparing or eating food.

Despite this advice, the RHS explained that the risks remain low and that Legionnaires disease is more commonly associated with standing water than potting compost.

Meanwhile, gardeners affected by Japanese knotweed may be happy to hear that the government has given the go ahead for tiny insects to be released to combat the problem.   - 12 March 2010
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Advice on Legionnaires compost link

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