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Susan J.
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 117
Hi Brandi, can you please post links education or science sources which state that silica in the form found specifically in DE is the same molecular structure of silica which is hazardous to breath and can cause respiratory ailments? I'm finding reports that state the form of silica in DE is not the same as hazardous silica. DE may kill good bugs, which I agree is good reason not to use it, however, I have not come across any university reports on using DE for chicken and yard health that warn it's dangerous to humans or chickens breathing it. Also, the FDA is so cautious about health dangers, that if DE was hazardous, they not only would NOT be selling it as "food grade", but in addition to this, I would think that there would be the usual health warnings and using respirators, but there aren't such warnings on the labels and articles I've seen. I'd like to see research lab based reports because I'm still interested in possibly using DE to combat possible parasites and parasite-worms in the yard. Maybe..

I did a quick Google search on "dangers of DE to health" and found this article by State of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, which states there are different forms of silica.

The article says that the type of DE contains in majority is "amorphous silica", and only minute amounts of cristobalite silica which "can be harmful in LARGE amounts", however it goes on to say that the amounts of cristobalite is no more hazardous (because it's so minimal) than breathing regular dust, which we all do 24/7.

State of Oregon source:
(2) Is diatomaceous earth hazardous to my health? DE in its natural state is composed largely of amorphous silica and there is no evidence that this form of silica is particularly toxic to humans. There is also no evidence to associate any form of natural DE with cancer in either experimental animals or humans. It does contain small amounts of crystalline silica, mainly cristobalite, which is the form of silica that can pose a health hazard. However, the amount of crystalline silica in natural DE is too small to pose a health hazard."

Another article says the same thing, and explains further that there are numerous forms of silica (meaning some is bad, some is harmless), and also that DE is in MANY products that we use every day, including toothpaste, per this article from the National Pesticide organization .edu, this is not a random blog making these statements.­

"Silica is very common in nature and makes up 26% of the earth's crust by weight. Various forms of silica include sand, emerald, quartz, feldspar, mica, clay, asbestos, and glass. Silica does not exist naturally in its pure form. It usually reacts with oxygen and water to form silicon dioxide. Silicon dioxide has two naturally occurring forms: crystalline and amorphous. Most diatomaceous earth is made of amorphous silicon dioxide. "

Everything we have in our homes, and the items we've used to build our chicken coops have warning labels on them. Paint, paint thinner, linseed oil, water sealant, paint stripper.

I'm not promoting DE, I just think that it makes our decision process confusing when we post things as fact without backing these statements up with verified sources and links to legit studies. From what I'm reading, from national sites, state studies and university studies, it is not accurate to lump all silica into the same category. In one form it's an emerald, and clay, and sand at the beach. In another form it's asbestos.

Those are very different things. I'm torn on DE. Am I missing something? If so, please clarify with sources that show that the amount of amorous silica, said to be no more harmful than every day dust, is higher than reported and also detrimental. Or that the amount of cristobalite silica (the harmful type) is actually much higher than these studies by University of Kentucky, State of Oregon and National Pesticide education studies are reporting. I am not the type to be gullible and trust a source just because it's a huge university. Meaning, I'm totally open to other reports. ! I'm not trying to argue, I'm trying to be unconfused and learn what is factual.
Susan J.
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 118
If anyone wants to do very thorough research on pest management from national science sources and agencies, here is a great source for links:­ I am the type who likes to go directly to the source, including calling government agencies and actual labs, if and when I have the energy to tackle such a project! Which I don't have time at the moment, however I have found these great sources (phone numbers and agencies): How do we combat roundworm, gapeworm, ringworm, fleas, ticks, mites, bacteria that causes other ailments? While not killing "good bugs"? This website addresses many questions and gives many other source links:

National Pesticide Information Center, discussing "Integrated Pest Management" (IPM) in the home and yard:

"IPM is a combination of common sense and scientific principles. It's a way of thinking about pest management that values:
~ Using knowledge about the pest's habits, life cycle, needs and dislikes
~ Using the least toxic methods first, up to and including pesticides
~ Monitoring the pest's activity and adjusting methods over time
~ Tolerating harmless pests, and
~ Setting a threshold to decide when it's time to act

These actions are important parts of any IPM endeavor:
~ Identify the pest in the most specific terms possible
~ Learn about the pest's biology (habits, life cycle, needs and dislikes)
~ Take steps to exclude the pest from the area, if possible (i.e. Wet food)
~ Try to remove the pest's food, water and shelter
~ Determine the pest's travel patterns and find their home-base (ie pests can infect yards from wild birds, fleas)
~ Identify all of your control options (the "tools in the toolbox") before acting

If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (7:30am-3:30pm PST), or email us at

Additional Resources: (see page for actual links)
Integrated Pest Management -
Bio-Integral Resource Center (BIRC)
IPM Institute of North America
Our Water - Our World - Bay Area Storm-water Management Agencies Association
National Roadmap for Integrated Pest Management - U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Biological Control Information Center - Department of Entomology, North Carolina State University
What "Integrated Pest Management" Means - Environmental Protection Agency
About Integrated Pest Management - U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Integrated Pest Management in Buildings - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
PestWise - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Choosing a Pest Control Company - IPM is the Key - Oregon State University Extension Service
Brandi G
user 48566262
Pasadena, CA
Post #: 280
The problem is that DE, food grade DE, does come with warnings. Even the Wikipedia page clearly states that prolonged exposure requires a respirator. I'm specifically referring to food grade DE and the hazards associated with breathing it. If you introduce DE into your soil, chickens a have a way of constantly stirring up dust. I just would never use something in an area that dust is stirred up on animals with delicate respiratory systems. Every heavy metal, mineral, etc has a maximum tolerance level at which human exposure is safe. DE is thrown around as if it is safe and no limits are set aside on the packaging. I just would never advocate using a product known to cause irritation at a certain level without knowing what that level is. Just because it doesn't say don't use it for chickens, doesn't mean it isn't safe or not safe.

I'm just trying to bring awareness to the fact that people tout DE as a cure all for all pests around the yard and it's widely accepted that at a certain level (no one knows what the exact amount is) the material is considered an irritant. That's good enough for me to not risk it. I have asthma, so I'm very conscious of this sort of thing. It's just not worth finding out the hard way, in my opinion.

Here's a link explaining exactly what I'm talking about. Every person (or chicken) has a different threshold for irritation to their lungs. Why risk it? That's the point I'm trying to make.

Susan J.
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 119
I think caution is good, smart. However, I'm still torn on what is accurate or not since the articles I've read from science sources do not mention that it causes lung problems, and explain the different forms of silica which are harmful, forms that are not in DE. I do have concerns because of what you're telling us and so I haven't purchased it yet, and I may not. My birds are healthy and I only was considering DE to ward off bad worms.. If I ever choose to use it, I will be cautious, thanks to your urging on this, and I'll use a mask when dusting it around. I do appreciate people who make the effort to watch out for others, and that's the point of these blogs, to figure out best options and help each other, so thank you :)

For further discussion on what may or may not be factual, the link you list above is written by an " contributor". If she does have a PhD, it's not mentioned, so a contributor may just be a blog writer. Also, she backs up her claim stating her source is the Center of Disease Control, so I Googled "Center of Disease Control Diatomaceous" and found this CDC article which states DE is "not toxic to humans" and that the only irritant it causes is to the eyes, and that amorphous silica, the non-toxic silica in DE, is not in "pure form", and that pure from "is rare". And if we were exposed to this rare form, it would have to be "prolonged and over exposure", exposure in abundance.­

About Wikipedia, "Anyone with Internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles", per Wikipedia. I've personally written in additional information about a Los Angeles venue that no longer exists, and the info I typed was immediately uploaded. I found this surprising, and actually dismaying. It's also not an accepted source for even college papers. Info on Wikipedia is not verified before it's posted to the public. http://en.wikipedia.o...­

I did find these articles which support your stance that precautions should be taken: http://vetmedicine.ab...­ "It is messy and may irritate eyes and throat. Use caution and wear a face mask when applying"

I also found this article by the CDC which lists info on amorphous silica, however it seems to be contradictory, since it mentions the amorphous silica in its pure form, if I'm reading it correctly, yet goes on to say that its "trade name" is DE, however DE does not contain the "pure form of amorphous silica" per their own previous article, so this may be where some of the contradictory information is stemming from:­

If I ever choose to use DE (which would be to combat roundworm, gapeworm, ringworm, fleas, and other parasites), what I will do is call the Center of Disease Control and point out these discrepancies in their two articles listed above (If DE does not contain "rare form pure amorous silica", then why are they saying DE is a "trade name" for the pure form?) or maybe I'm missing something in that 2nd article. Depending on what happens when I call the CDC, I'll press to get accurate answers there, and if the person can't give me clear answers, I'll ask for a name to direct an email to. Either way, I'll request information sent to me in writing. When I decide to take on a project I'm very thorough, however I haven't taken on this project yet (to call the CDC), but if I ever have a worm or parasite problem, I will call the CDC before I use DE. (I am curious now though, and a bit irked to find this potentially contradictory information by a national agency, so I may just call them for the hell of it!).

Bottom line, I'm torn, as you said, why risk it. But aren't worms and mites a bad risk too? and other remedies? At least DE is labeled as a non-chemical. Is DE more of a risk than other ailments that it helps eradicate, and other med alternatives? I'm getting lost with all the ailments and differing info out there.

Karen C.
user 83873082
Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA
Post #: 71
Susan...If you decide to use it, I wouldn't throw it all around your garden. I'd only put it in the coop under your bedding material.
Brandi G
user 48566262
Pasadena, CA
Post #: 282
I agree with you. The Internet is unreliable.

I actually based my decision on Cal OSHA regulations that my friend told me about. I'll try to look up their regulations because in my experience, if there is an MSDS, there is a reason for having it and Cal OSHA will have regulations for using the material in the work place. It's not toxic to EAT. Breathing isn't necessarily what they regulate for, Cal OSHA regs will likely cover this. It's usually used in food prep, brewing, etc. they aren't really labeling for the unintentional use by chicken owners and using it to kill pests around a yard.

I think Karen's advice is sound, by the way.
Brandi G
user 48566262
Pasadena, CA
Post #: 283
Here is what Cal OSHA has to say:

I'll look up more when I have time. Cal OSHA regulates workplace safety, so if the use of DE is a non recommended use, they will not have warning specific to that use on the packaging. That is, if someone uses a food product on their skin, it may not be rated for that. It is known of as a food product, not a skin product, etc. I think that is the issue with DE and its current labeling, it's a food safety product, not a yard product.
Susan J.
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 136
Hi Brandi and everyone, I just came across some info on "Nematodes", are you guys familiar with it? I had never heard of it. You sprinkle it in your yard and apparently it wards off all types of pests and various worms, and safe to humans and pets. I wonder if it would work for warding off bad worms, fleas and p parasites?!

"Beneficial Nematodes (Steinernema Feltiae) are microscopic warriors that kill soil borne pests such as flea larvae, spidermites, fungus gnat, weevils, grubs, rootworms, cutworms, and many more. These Nematodes search, find, and kill pests living in the soil. They are extremely effective, and will reproduce and spread to provide you with long lasting organic pest control.

Safe for plants, pets, and people. May be applied in a mulch, with garden sprayer or watering can. One pint contains 5 million active units and will treat approximately 350 sq. ft. unlike other beneficial nematodes, the Steinernema Feltiae only needs to be applied every 12 - 18 months. Will over winter in garden zones 2 and above. Organic pest control for control of over 200 pests. MFG Model # : 361. MFG Part # : 361"­
Brandi G
user 48566262
Pasadena, CA
Post #: 289
I've used beneficial nematodes. They control cutworms, Japanese beetle larvae, June bug larvae, moth larvae,etc. they are useful to protect plants or grass. I've not heard of controlling mites, fleas or ticks with them. I'll look at the package I have in my fridge to see if it mentions it. They are kind of a pain to apply, you just have to plan ahead- it must be done at night. Daylight kills them. They feed on soil microbes and pass through the soil and infect the bad bugs essentially. You can tell that they are working when you see larvae that turn red- they will not live to be the adult pests and it stops the life cycle. I also dig the grubs up and feed them to the chickens, so they don't appreciate me using beneficial nematodes ;)
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