PHC Bacteria Safety
Many PHC products contain our standard, six-species bacteria package. This includes the following species:
- Bacillus licheniformis
- Bacillus megaterium
- Bacillus polymyxa
- Bacillus pumilus
- Bacillus subtilis
- Paenibacillus azotofixans
These bacteria are all BioSafety Level I bacteria, which is the safest level. Bacteria in this level are not typically associated with diseases. Also, these bacteria tend to be quite common in rich soil environments, such as forest soil, and they are have many beneficial effects on soil fertility.
Why Choose BioSafety Level I?
When producing bacterial products, it is important to use safe, harmless bacteria, so to avoid danger to people who handle and apply the products. Also, it is important to protect the environment where the products will be used. Soils are already loaded with bacteria of all kinds, including some potentially harmful bacteria. That is why gardeners wear gloves, and take care to treat any cuts they might get while gardening, to avoid infection. Diseases such as tetanus and staph infections can be acquired through infections from harmful bacteria commonly occurring in dirt. That is why gardeners use good hygiene practices when working in the soil, such as wearing gloves, washing hands when finished, and treating cuts.
What About People with Severely Weakened Immune Systems?
People who have severe immunity problems, such as advanced AIDS, or persons undergoing chemotherapy, can theoretically react differently to otherwise harmless bacteria. So we recommend that such people should consult with their doctors before handling microbial products of any kind.
What About Animals?
Animals tend to be even more resistant than people to bacteria, since they live in the natural environment without the benefit of human hygienic practices. So BioSafety Level I is as safe for animals as for people.
Can You Eat These Bacteria?
While we do not recommend that our landscape products be eaten, we would not expect serious problems to arise from incidental ingestion of these bacteria. These bacteria are not adapted to live in the highly acidic environment of the human digestive system, and would not be expected to survive there. Animals, including dogs, have eaten significant amounts of PHC organic fertilizers containing these bacteria, particularly Healthy Start 3-4-3, and have had no ill effects, although a few have reported temporary diarrhea believed to be caused by bowel irritation from some of the fertilizer ingredients in the product. Many dogs have suffered no effects at all, and none have been harmed. So we have good reason to be confident that our microbial package is quite safe for animals.
Normal Hygiene Practices Recommended
By selecting only BioSafety Level I organisms for commercial use, we are avoiding hazards associated with bacterial diseases. Still, we recommend that when handling any microbial product, we should follow the same standard hygiene practices for working in the garden, as noted above, such as wearing gloves, washing hands when finished, and treating cuts.