Hygiene labels are set to be introduced to compost bags thanks to a recent study, which found 14 of 22 well known compost brands contained Legionella bugs in their bags.
Although most of the bacteria do not pose a significant risk to humans, four of the bags did contain Legionella longbeachae, which is linked to Legionnaires’ disease – a severe strain of pneumonia, which can eventually lead to hospitalisation and in rare cases, death.
Health analysts believe the risk to young and healthy people is very low, but older people with health problems are deemed to be at risk. It has been advised that gardeners wear gloves, avoid breathing in the dust and wash their hands immediately afterwards.
A recent outbreak in Scotland caused six people to be hospitalised, with some requiring intensive care. Experts are emphasising that compost is safe, but as with any potential source of infection, precautions should always be taken.