Can you get sick from mineralizing soil? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-28-2015, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
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Can you get sick from mineralizing soil?

So because I can't mineralize soil in the garage because of my sisters' dogs, I decided to mineralize it in my room. I soaked the dirt using waste RO/DI water, and am currently in the process of drying it. My dad came in, and made a bit of a deal about it, claiming I'd get histoplasmosis from it. I'm obviously not getting sick anytime soon, but is it possible to get sick from dirt? Honestly, I was more scared of a parasite than a fungus, but what are the chances of me getting sick? I don't think they're very high, since the soil was soaked and "rinsed" for a while, and any fungal/bacterial spores and/or parasite eggs should've died/been rinsed off by now, right?

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-28-2015, 10:03 PM
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I don't see what problem would be unless you started purposely inhaling or ingesting the dirt for some odd reason.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-28-2015, 10:23 PM
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Histoplasmosis is animal transmission from pigeon droppings. Dad is paranoid, but wet dirt in your room? Seriously?
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-28-2015, 10:30 PM
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Quite a few fungi can enter a resting stage when conditions are bad (usually dry) then grow when they get moist.
Alternating wet and dry does not kill them.

Whether this is actually going to be a problem, I do not know. It does not seem to be a problem when people keep house plants indoors. The soil in the pots does not seem to give off enough fungus spores to be a problem.
Perhaps remind your dad about that, and see what he says.

If he insists that you should keep the soil in a container like a house plant, then go for a clay pot without glaze. It will dry out the fastest.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-28-2015, 10:45 PM Thread Starter
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@Turningdoc, technically, it's bird and bat droppings, and since we sometimes have bats in the winter and I got the dirt from outside where birds defecate, I /could/ get it. Dad's also a doctor, so I guess paranoia is valid. Yes, wet dirt in my room. Anywhere else in the house is "socially unacceptable" (at least to those who don't know about aquariums), and the garage is off limits because of my sisters' dogs.
@Diana, honestly, since I'm making the topsoil right now, I doubt that I'm going to be getting any fungi anytime soon. I'm following the directions of Aaron Talbot, so even then it shouldn't be a problem. Just a thought, but would baking the soil do anything to nutrients and kill off any "bad" organisms?

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-29-2015, 01:44 AM
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You can mineralize soil by baking it, if you don't mind the smell, and if the boss of the household isn't going to scream because you used the oven. Mineralizing is changing organic nitrogen compounds to inorganic (nitrates), and that can be done with bacterial activity from soak and dry cycles or with heat. I don't think I would do either method in the house, just because of the smell.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-29-2015, 03:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
You can mineralize soil by baking it, if you don't mind the smell,
Baking won't work. You'd have to use something like a flame thrower to literally burn the dirt to mineralize it.

With that being said, check around your location for any kind of landscaping store.

They often have super cheap top soil that's exactly what you're looking for, and it's been sitting outside exposed to rain/sun over and over again, and will already be completely mineralized.

I learned the hard way after spending weeks (and like $40) mineralizing miracle grow soil. Second time through I spend $1.40 and got triple the mineralized soil, with zero work other than the purchase.

Basically if your oven doesn't reach 700F (380C) you aren't doing anything by baking the soil. You need to combust the organic material (if using the heat method) to see the significant changes.

Let me add a source:

Quote:
Three samples of both soils were heated for 30 min in a muffle furnace at temperatures of 25, 170, 220, 380 and 460C. At each temperature, the following parameters were determined: dry aggregate size distribution, water aggregate stability, total porosity, pore size distribution, water repellency and hydraulic conductivity. Heating the soils at 170 and 220C caused no significant changes in aggregate size distribution or total porosity but increased water aggregate stability and the volume of pores 0.2–30 μm. Also, increased water repellency and strongly decreased the hydraulic conductivity. All parameters underwent much more dramatic changes at 380 and 460C that can be ascribed to the combustion of organic matter. At such temperatures, water repellency was destroyed and the low hydraulic conductivity can be attributed to the aggregate breakdown observed under dry and wet conditions.
http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/WF03068.htm

Last edited by alcimedes; 12-29-2015 at 03:23 PM. Reason: Added a source.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-29-2015, 03:21 PM
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I don't think fungal respiratory infection will be an issue for most immune competent people who only get exposed occasionally.

Now, if you were bathing in the stuff (sorry, I meant exposed frequently because of your occupation eg landscaper, farmer, etc) then we may have real risk to consider.

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-29-2015, 07:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alcimedes View Post
Baking won't work. You'd have to use something like a flame thrower to literally burn the dirt to mineralize it.

..................

Basically if your oven doesn't reach 700F (380C) you aren't doing anything by baking the soil. You need to combust the organic material (if using the heat method) to see the significant changes.

Let me add a source:



CSIRO PUBLISHING - International Journal of Wildland Fire
"Topsoil" is not something you buy in a bag, with the list of ingredients showing it is mostly ground up wood products, possibly with some manure in it. Topsoil is what you dig up outdoors where plants have been grown long enough for the soil to contain humus from decayed plant debris, and where clay isn't the major constituent. That topsoil probably contains organic compounds like urea and/or ammonia. The smell you get from real soil that is damp is largely from those organic compounds. Baking the soil at normal oven temperatures will convert those organic compounds to nitrates.

If you buy a bag of "topsoil", which is mostly ground up bark, partly composted organic debris, etc., baking it at normal oven temperatures won't make it become humus or real topsoil. However, many people have been very satisfied with some bagged "topsoil" as a bottom layer for an aquarium substrate, with as little as zero preparation before putting it into the tank. That is not mineralized topsoil though.

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-02-2016, 03:17 AM
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Some years ago I made a compost pile in my parents house. I was raising worms for a box turtle. I put the worms in a bucket with dirt and enough water to keep it moist then added bread and fruit as they would go bad. Despite all the mold that would grow on these items we had no ill effects to our health except maybe a few extra sneezes (though I never noticed any difference).

Put the dirt in the oven and bake it like it's meat (internal temp above 170 deg f) to sterilize it.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-02-2016, 03:27 AM
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I agree with Virc, I bake my dirt before i use it for a number of reasons - kill of bugs - sterilize, etc. Easy to do, although I recommend a bit higher than 170F.

Oh in terms of possibility of getting sick. Any random thing is possible, you area could for instance have high levels of various molds, etc in the soil naturally. If concerned wear a dust mask, and wash up.


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Last edited by Darkblade48; 01-03-2016 at 03:19 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts
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