Diatomaceous earth side effects

Written by beverley burgess bell
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Diatomaceous earth side effects
Diatomocaeous earth is made of fossilised shells. (fossils image by Zoltán Pataki from Fotolia.com)

Diatomaceous earth is an organic substance derived from the remains of fossilised shells. It can be used in the garden, or as a flour or powder in animals and humans for various health reasons. Diatomaceous earth is not usually considered toxic but can cause respiratory problems, if inhaled.

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Garden Use

Diatomaceous earth is often applied in the garden. It can be used to prevent slugs and other soft-bodied creatures from attacking and eating plants by drying out their soft bodies. Touching the powdery mineral does not appear to cause any problems or side effects in humans.

Diatomaceous earth is often used against slugs.
Diatomaceous earth is often used against slugs. (slug image by Chris Parlee from Fotolia.com)

Food Grade

The mineral is often powdered into a flour and used for various health reasons ranging from regulating bowel movements to increasing energy. The flour does not seem to cause any adverse side effects when taken internally.

Possible Hazard

Diatomaceous earth itself poses no problems. It is the silica that it is comprised of that can lead to breathing problems if it is inhaled over a long period of time.

Diatomaceous earth side effects
It could cause breathing problems if inhaled. (thorax x-ray of the lungs image by JoLin from Fotolia.com)

Prolonged Exposure

Prolonged exposure to the silica dust in diatomaceous earth can cause breathing problems like silicosis and pneumoconiosis, which are degenerative respiratory diseases, according to an article in the Journal of Environmental and Occupational Medicine.

Organic Dewormer

The powdered mineral is often used as an organic dewormer for pets without any adverse side effects. It can also be rubbed on to the dog or cat's coat to prevent an investation of lice and ticks. Aside from some dryness, diatomaceous earth appears to cause no problems to the animals.

Diatomaceous earth side effects
It causes no adverse side effects on pets. (Two Dogs image by ziggyhendry from Fotolia.com)

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