Deadly dirt

Thursday, 23 June, 2005

Following growing concerns around the potential danger of certain potting mixes on the market, SAI Global has issued a warning to green thumbs across the country.

The warning comes following the recent deaths of three people in Victoria from bacterium Legionella longbeachae.

The general manager of product certification at SAI Global, Mario Battaglia, said: "Lately a spate of potting mixes, consisting of all kind of ingredients, have entered the market. They might look the same, smell the same, but they are not the same."

In some cases the use of these potting mixes has been associated with respiratory illnesses and even death caused by the Legionella bacteria," said Battaglia.

"To help guard against this killer, it is important for potting mixes and their production processes to be rigorously tested and assessed against the Australian Standard. One of the best ways to tell if your potting mix has been put through its paces is to look for the Australian StandardsMark, which demonstrates compliance to the standard. By having their product certified by SAI Global, a manufacturer can show that it has taken steps to lessen the risk of exposure to disease such as Legionella, and has alerted consumers to the potential danger."

According to the health and safety senior auditor at SAI Global, Mark Hazeldine: "Legionella bacteria can cause a rare form of pneumonia and early symptoms include fever, chills, headaches, shortness of breath, dry cough and muscle aches and pain."

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