Want to Start VC

lrn2groOctober 30, 2012

So I'm a college student living with 4 other people in a fairly large house. I had brought up the idea of VC to one of my housemates because I felt weird not composting my veg/fruit scraps after doing it all the time outside over the summer at home. The moment I suggested it he made me sound insane. He was concerned about it being a breeding ground for germs and molds and believes that I will be putting his well-being at risk. Has anyone had any trouble with getting sick from indoor composting? I've done my research and it appears no, but my housemate won't have it.

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Aindra(8, BC)

The VC process is not without risks. It does have mold, bacteria, fungi spores. Only times it poses the threat is if you're allergic to them. Even so, the threat is not specific to the worm bin; it also applies to the outdoor compost and damp areas outside, well, pretty much everywhere.

You'd be surprised how many molds you have hidden inside your house, no matter how clean you are. I recall the time when I was a lazy teenager and didn't change my pillowcase for a few months. When I did and there were black molds on my pillow! Just imagine sleeping on it every night. I still have nightmares about it sometimes. I'm still here and doing just fine. (I threw said pillow away if you're wondering.)

If your housemate has no known allergies but still nervous with the worm bin, you can place your bin in something like a garage, basement, balcony or some place away from your other housemates and tend to it by yourself.

In short: If you're healthy, it's safe. If it's that dangerous, this vermicomposting forum doesn't exist and we're all ghosts. OOoOooOooOo

Worm Bin Mold Allergies

Health Risk of Composting

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 4:14PM
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Thanks for the info! I realize mold and such is everywhere which was one of the reasons as to why I was upset at my roommate for being so critical of the bin specifically. I will probably start one in the spring and put it in our unattached garage so as to keep everyone happy, but I am worried about when winter comes around again. Since the garage is not heated I would not want to keep them in there.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 6:26PM
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Hm. What's your housemate majoring in?

I actually did a bit of research on this topic for a paper on thermo-composting. I won't post my paper 'cuz it's full of bafflegab but..

There are a few known risks with composting. A person who is not severely allergic, asthmatic or immune-compromised is really in less danger from a worm bin than she is from the family cat/dog. (Don't google zoonosis or toxoplasmosis if you are a hypochondriac*g*)

All of the studies I found were done on workers in large scale thermophilic composting facilities that also process city waste, so they really aren't totally applicable to small scale indoor worm bins. (I am sure nobody is composting pesticides, hazardous waste, etc) My favourite study showed a *decrease* in dermatitis and eczema in compost facility workers!

The big baddies are volatile organic compounds (VOC), endotoxins (your friendly neighbourhood gram negative bacteria produce these), bioaerosols (bacteria/fungi in dust particles that get blown around)and parasites.

All the above are present in a household garbage can- I bet you don't bleach your garbage containers. (I don't) The above poster made a good point about mould, the stuff is seriously everywhere.

Anything in a worm bin will stay in the bin and is unlikely to spread out and take over your house like a bad horror movie, unless you are doing something very odd. :)

I agree that if you put the bin somewhere non-obvious there should be absolutely no problems.

Personal anecdata: I'm moderately to severely asthmatic, and have a lot of allergies, including aspergillus/aflatoxin. I've never had a problem with outdoor composting. I've been worm composting for.. wow, 6 months now and have not had any increase in symptoms or decrease in lung function. I test 2ce daily to adjust medication. I also don't stick my face in the bin and take deep breaths. *g* I wore a dust mask while harvesting, but no gloves. I did wash my hands before and after. I do object to the rotting vegetation smell from my bin when I take the lid off. I've read and am told by the experienced folks on here that this is a management issue. Still trying to fix that.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 6:56PM
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Aindra(8, BC)

To: lrn2gro
Some people here and my mom keeps their bins in their unheated garage year-round or during winter. I don't know how cold it gets in your climate though.

To: GreenIvy
Thank you for that info about the garbage can. I'm no fortuneteller but I do have a feeling that shortly in my future, there is possiblity of being armed with the bleach and something involving with the garbage cans.

Yes, feeding the worms is a tough task (for willpower). I hardly notice the smell when I open my bin. Only times I can notice the odour is if I put my nose right on surface and I have no desire to do that.

It's incredibly frustating to know you have this much food and yet the worms can't eat them all so you have to hold back. For me, the problem is the fruit flies attacking my face when I open my bin. With my efforts, I now hardly see any flies though I still have a lot larva wiggling in my bin. Working on it.

That reminds me...

To: lrn2gro
Your housemates may also object to the flying insects around your bin if you're not succeeding to keep them away. Just something to keep in mind and take preventive steps.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 10:12PM
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I would be much more concerned with air freshners, Frebreeze, plug in scented oils, scented candles, hand sanitizers, Pinesol and Lysol outgassing putting residents well-being at risk. I would pass on the vermicomposting until you can get back with life giving people. Presently a single fruit fly would cause havoc.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 5:14PM
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buckstarchaser(5 MI)

Your roommate wants to keep things germ free but is apparently unaware that he is covered with germs, both inside and out. You can't touch anything without touching huge quantities of germs no matter how hard you try. A germicidal soap that kills 99.9% of germs still leaves many thousands of them unharmed and thousands more toughened against the poison. The human mouth contains over 100 strains of bacteria and viruses, human lungs have 150 strains. The human face is generally considered the most germ-covered part of their body. A typical human expels 2 pounds of germs and their own dead body cells per day in their poo. The reason bread gets moldy, even if you don't open it, is because it's swarming with mold and bacteria before you even bought it. When you go outside, the soil is made of dead plants and animals, as well as insect, worm, and animal poo. Every breath of air anywhere, on the space station or in an operating room, is filled with bacteria, fungus, virus, spores, and reproductive cells of various species. The dust that accumulates in houses located in typical non-dusty climates is mostly dead skin cells. Every soil contains anthrax, e coli, staph, and salmonella colonies. Your body has Staphylococcus cells on it but you're likely to only get a staph infection in a hospital. Because of overuse of antibacterials causing resistance in the germs, the antibacterials kill off the living shield of microbes you brought with you on your skin while the hardened hospital staph strain took hold. A typical toothbrush has more living e coli (a bacteria that lives in your colon) than a typical toilet seat.

...some ramblings of an ex-germaphobe to help you pelt your roommate with logic.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 9:55AM
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The stat I love, there are 10 times more bacteria cells living on and in your body, than there are your actual human cells (due to size differences).


    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 3:58PM
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raubuch(Zone 8)

If done properly, your roommate shouldn't have any concerns. I have been composting indoors for years, and it is virtually odorless. Once in a while you can catch a whiff of a slight earthy scent.

Just remember not to overfeed them or keep their environment too moist. The golden rule of a damp sponge must apply.

If you're new to this, I would suggest a fabricated worm bin with a drain spigot to get you started. You can place it in a corner of your dorm/house and it will soon build up to a large number of worms that can handle quite a bit of food. Go easy at first though.

Good Luck. This is one of my favorite worm bins.

Here is a link that might be useful: Worm Factory 360

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 3:15PM
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