Q about soil pathogens and humans

Houston, TX


I was not exactly sure where to post this question: Are there pathogens in soil (or other material) that can seriously affect a persons health? I only ask because I have been HIV since 92'. My health is good (meds doing their job :), but I've heard so much about emerging "diseases" either caused by purposeful application to the environment to control something else (good intentions gone bad), or accidental stuff that just loves it's new home (imported?), or just normal mutation (such as Lagenidium Giganteum - okay that falls under "good intentions gone bad", or certain strains of antibiotic resistant Salmonella, psudomonas...ect.) ??

I am (mostly) concerned with "inhalation", or pesky critters of plants that are mobile. Anybody know if any bite humans? Make them sick? .

I have started an indoor garden (apt. with no "outside" space) and I really have no idea what is in the potting material (the "who, what, when, were, and how...)???, and I don't want to start a petri-dish (spores become airborne??).

I've also heard there is no such thing as steralized soil? Anyone heard this?

I know this is a ridiculously difficult question to answer. If someone could point me in the right direction to look, or have a story to share, I would be very grateful for your imput!

I do love my plants. I do not want to get rid of them. I've decided (for now) to keep plants to a minimum, and employ good sanitation habits (no standing water, ect), and safety (gloves and mask when handling soil). Beyond that? I'm pretty dumb about plant stuff...so if I need to know something....

Thanks for helping a girl get off the dang fence!

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7b)

There is no such thing as a "dumb" question, however else would you find anything out? There are of course pathogens in the soil, but most of them belong there as soil is a living organism too. Your main concern should probably be any molds/fungi that might show up from over watering or too much humidity, and can be fixed by changing watering habits. I would suggest in your case you use a mask if you encounter that problem. Otherwise, you're doing great. Good sanitation is the key..... if you use one of the organic potting soils you'll have fewer problems, the problem is not the good microbes it's the chemicals used in the fertilizers. You can sterilize used soil in the oven or use a microwave, it smells God awful, but it works. Normally people use that method for soil in which they are going to plant seed, to help prevent the growth of fungi that may be present in the soil. You can use a solution of hydrogen peroxide to help with that problem. Check out critterologist's are articles on this subject. Again, given your medical problems, use a mask and you should be able to play with your plants with no problem.

Houston, TX

Thank you doccat5!

That was very helpful! I will check out critterologist's articles. I think if it were 20 years ago I would probably wouldn't care, but things are changing...I just don't trust large commercial soil producer's. It's all about the bottom line.

I worry too much, lol. It's a good thing I only plan to keep a few plants!

Baking soil...what a mess I will make, lol.

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

There as stated are many issues with immunosuppressed people. Cats feces in soil leave behind 'Toxoplama' that may be viable in the soil for a long time. Ticks in some areas are common and carry many things. There are many others and I offer only this. Life is empty without something to enjoy, and the garden is an isolated place of peace and encouragement. Without the presence of many people I feel that your exposures are much less in such an environment. I would use a mask, and wear protective clothing, wash your hands well after and you would minimise your exposure. More importantly you would live longer with the joy of gardening.

Mid-Cape, MA(Zone 7a)

Wisely (and beautifully) said, Soferdig.

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