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Concerned about diatomaceous earth safety  RSS feed

 
Jan Cooper
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I'm concerned about DE and lung damage. We have used diatomaceous earth to put down in stalls then put bedding over it. That helps to deter flies. I'm starting to wonder since we're not supposed to breath it, is how smart is this?
I've been told I can also use it for fleas, but one shake from an animal, it can becomes air-borne. I have a DE full bag. Wondering if anyone has an research on the safety?

Also, Please ask Justin, So ingesting it, what does it do the cell lining of one's intestines?
 
Carol Peek
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I haven't heard of any dangers from DE use unless it is airborne and inhaled. I guess I hadn't really considered the fact of an animal shaking, etc to cause it to become airborne (mostly cautious about opening/closing container or wind blowing it during application). Looking forward to some discussion and experience here and I would be interested in hearing if there are any other health related concerns.
 
Justin Wood
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Another great question:

I just want to be clear that we are talking about "food grade" diatomaceous earth.

I will give you the short answer and then point you to a very long answer:

Short answer: Diatomaceous Earth (DE) powder is simply rock dust. So treat it like basically any other dust. If you are in a closed space or if you are allergic to dust, then wear a mask. My wife says that DE is like water = natural, but you don't want to go breathing it for long periods of time

So the only real concern about DE is that it is a rock dust so it will be a finer dust.

The effects on your intestines will be amazing! Think of it like steel wool on your gut. It does clear out a lot of negative things in the human body. If we were not so toxic, then maybe it would not be so amazing. But we are and it is.

I am going to give you the longer answer by linking to our website where we have done lots of research:
http://myabundantliving.com/diatomaceous-earth/

Blessings!
 
Mary Juelke
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I have used diatomaceous earth for years. I have known many people who ingest it also. I use it as a pesticide and dewormer for my alpacas. It not only gets rid of the flies, but also acts as a dewormer saving me thousands on medication and labor. It is not recommended to have children in close proximity while dusting. Since adults ingest it. I think the warning is more geared towards children and those with sensitive lungs.
 
John Wolfram
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Diatomaceous earth is a natural silicon based product that is mined out of the ground and is generally made up of particles less than 3 micrometers in length...unfortunately, that description of DE also applies to asbestos. In a 1993 study increased rates of lung cancer were seen among DE mine workers who were in dusty DE mines of the 1950s. Since DE's pesticide properties are based on a mechanical action, it does not seem unreasonable to believe that, like asbestos, the carcinogenic properties of DE would also be due to a mechanical action that irritates the cells in the lungs.

One positive note about that 1993 study is that it states that once the dust level was brought down there was not a statistically significant increase in cancer among the workers.
 
Justin Wood
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John Wolfram wrote:Diatomaceous earth is a natural silicon based product that is mined out of the ground and is generally made up of particles less than 3 micrometers in length...unfortunately, that description of DE also applies to asbestos. In a 1993 study increased rates of lung cancer were seen among DE mine workers who were in dusty DE mines of the 1950s. Since DE's pesticide properties are based on a mechanical action, it does not seem unreasonable to believe that, like asbestos, the carcinogenic properties of DE would also be due to a mechanical action that irritates the cells in the lungs.

One positive note about that 1993 study is that it states that once the dust level was brought down there was not a statistically significant increase in cancer among the workers.



John,

Thanks for your comment. Before deciding to promote the use of Diatomaceous Earth and Calcium Bentonite, my wife and I did quite a bit of research. We never want to encourage anyone to do anything that will be less than beneficial to them.

I ran across a similar article linking workers in DE processing facilities with increased cancer rates several decades ago. Here is a link to an interesting youtube video about a mine in 1962. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=389q8LJreM8 Several things to note are the lack of masks worn by workers, the mix of asbestos and DE (which one worker then wipes under his nose!), and the extended time of exposure these workers were around DE dust.

After digging deeper (no pun intended), we found the following three conditions were linked with the increase in cancer rates among the workers.

#1) Breathing in rock dust is bad for your lungs. My wife tells people that water is safe and good for the human body, but not when inhaled into the lungs! We recommend using a mask when applying DE to enclosed areas and/or in windy areas.

#2) Part of the toxicity that the workers were exposed to was in the processing of the DE. Non-food grade DE is processed in high heat which changes the structure of the DE, making it toxic to both humans and animals. (Hence we always warn people to make sure they are purchasing food grade DE.)

#3) Exposure rates were quite extensive for these workers. Most people using DE on their homesteads will be exposed to airborne DE for less than a few hours a year. These workers were exposed for over 2000 hours each year. As we know, the sun can increase vitamin D in our bodies when exposed for a little bit each day. 2000 hours a year of sun exposure would be a recipe for cancer, too.

I hope this helps to clarify what on the surface could look scary. I feel badly for the workers who got sick in the past, but it certainly doesn't stop me from using DE to increase the health of myself, my family, or my homestead today.

Blessings.

 
John Wolfram
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Justin Wood wrote: Several things to note are the lack of masks worn by workers, the mix of asbestos and DE (which one worker then wipes under his nose!), and the extended time of exposure these workers were around DE dust.

I did notice that others must have brought up the asbestos in the mine since in 1996 the authors of the article of the original article came out with this report exploring the possible link, but dismissing it.
 
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