Gardening Safety

Legionnaire’s Disease

Find out more about the naturally occurring organism “Legionellosis”, and look at some simple steps that all gardeners can take to reduce the risks of Legionnaire’s Disease while enjoying their garden.

Gardening is one of New Zealand’s most popular leisure activities. Gardening not only lets us enjoy nature, it also provides real health benefits, from eating our own fresh home grown produce and through exercise from gardening activities. Plus of course, increased well-being derived from the pleasure of nurturing our plants and watching things grow in our own garden environment.

However, there are some health risks involved in gardening. These include unwelcome organisms such as Tetanus and Legionellosis, poisonous plants, the risk of insect stings and bites, sunburn, misuse of chemicals and injury caused by garden tools. So some precautions should be taken to remain safe and healthy when gardening.

Of particular relevance to users of Daltons products is the rare but possible risk of contracting Legionellosis (or Legionnaires’ disease). There is no known method of eliminating Legionellosis from mulch, compost or potting mix during manufacture. As Legionellosis is a naturally occurring organism, it is not particular to any one brand or type of mulch, compost or potting mix. It can be present in home composting bins, all common brands sold in retail outlets or bulk supplies sold through landscape yards.

While it is extremely rare and healthy gardeners can acquire immunity, caution needs to be taken by older gardeners, those with low immunity or chronic illness and smokers. By following these simple guidelines below the risk can be minimised and the full benefits of gardening enjoyed.

  1. Minimise the amount of dust when working in the garden.
  2. Water your garden and indoor plants using a gentle spray.
  3. Read all warnings on bags of mulch, compost and potting mix.
  4. Wear gloves when handling mulch, compost and potting mix.
  5. If concerned, wear a dust mask when opening bags or using mulch, compost or potting mix, to avoid inhaling dust.
  6. Open bags of mulch, compost and potting mix slowly and away from the face.
  7. Dampen mulch, compost and potting mixes before use.
  8. Make sure the working area (glasshouse, potting shed) is well ventilated.

See your doctor immediately if you develop a flu-like illness that is worsening. Antibiotics are effective against Legionellosis if given early.

More Information:

Safer and Healthier Gardening

Legionellosis - What You Should Know If You Work With Soils, Compost And Potting Mix

Go Gardening - Safer Gardening and Legionnaire’s Disease

This guide provides some simple and natural steps that all gardeners can take to reduce risk while continuing to enjoy their garden.