Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online

Health risks in the garden!

August 2016

At this time of year, many of us spend lots of time in the garden. It is one of the joys of the warmer months here in the UK. But few of us are aware of the risks that hover just outside our back door!

Obviously there are physical dangers, such as tripping over a hose or perhaps stepping on a rake; but it seems there is also a host of other problems lurking out there waiting to get us if we are not careful.
Some of the dangers lurking in the garden include:

Legionnaires Disease.  Older people with reduced immune systems are more vulnerable to this disease.  Legionella pneumonophila which leads to legionnaires disease occurs naturally at low levels in watercourses but can increase in still and standing water especially when the temperature is above 20 degrees C. It's usually caught by breathing in small droplets of contaminated water. So in the summer months water buts, troughs, and even standing watering cans that haven’t been used for a while, can all be homes to legionella pneumonophila.

Composting. Many keen gardens compost, so it is good to be aware of Bioaerosois,  an airborne micro-organism which includes spores, bacteria and fungi. This occurs naturally in decomposing material and multiplies in warmer weather, when it becomes more of a risk.  These can lead to asthma or bronchitis.

Tetanus.  Most of us think that tetanus is caught from perhaps a rusty nail or being bitten by a dog or some other animal. However, tetanus bacteria can also be found in normal soil in the garden. This means that even a simple cut or scratch while you are gardening can put you at risk and this risk increases with age.

Well’s disease can cause flu like symptoms and can have serious complications and is spread through contact with soil or water contaminated with the urine of some wild animals including dogs and rats. It is rare, but wet vegetation in the garden could be contaminated with rat urine, so the risk is there.

Plants themselves can also cause problems. Chrysanthemums, Leyland cypress and Peruvian lilies for instance can cause severe allergic reactions in some. Other plants such as cuckoo plant, euphorbia and oleander can produce a fluid which can cause a burning sensation and blistering, and also irritate the eyes. It can be severe enough to produce a rash or red weals which need to be treated with an anti-inflammatory cream. Even geraniums, tomatoes, roses and poinsettias have potential ot cause skin irritation.

Obviously there are ways to make your garden safer...wearing gloves and appropriate protective clothing for the work you are doing is obvious. Avoid potting in confined spaces, and of course always wash your hands after gardening, especially before handling food. Keeping your tetanus injections up to date is also important.

If you have grandchildren or pets, it is also important to know which plants are poisonous and to teach young visitors to your garden not to play with growing plants and certainly not eat anything before checking with adults.


The Royal Horticultural Society has a good advice page which includes a full list of plants that can cause problems.

 

Back to LaterLife Interest Index


Bookmark This Share on Facebook Receive more like this

Latest Articles:

Health food of the month - Mascarpone

mascarpone

Mascarpone is an Italian cheese made with the addition of certain acidic substances including lemon juice or vinegar. It is thought to originate from an area southwest of Milan over 300 years ago.

AXA Health: Top 10 exercises for a healthy back

family walking

Modern life doesn't lend itself to having a healthy back. Long hours sitting all day at a desk or on the road can take its toll. Add to this a whole host of other sedentary behaviours like TV viewing, sitting at a computer, and game console use – and it's no wonder that our bodies start feeling the strain.

Give your feet some TLC!

happy feet

Feet are often underestimated yet they are just so important. These tiny platforms at the bottom of our legs carry our whole weight as we stand or move along.

New understanding on how cancer starts

lab tests

The latest news is from researchers at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute  who say for the first time ever, scientists have manage to work out the number of mutations needed for cancers to develop.

Back to LaterLife Health Section

Visit our Pre-retirement Courses section here on laterlife or our dedicated Retirement Courses site

Bookmark


Advertise on laterlife.com



LaterLife Travel Insurance in Association with Avanti