Local News

Read The Fine Print: Expert Issues Warning About Pesticide-Laced Potting Soil

Posted January 22, 2003

— A new potting soil on the market contains a pesticide that could be dangerous. The concern is that the warning label on the bag is hard to find.

Al Cooke, the horticulture extension speciaist in Chatham County, is concerned about the pre-mixed insecticide and potting soil blend.

"It's an image question, largely. It is a potting soil, but it is also a pesticide and it doesn't look like a pesticide," Cooke said.

The product in question is Bayer's Advanced Gardening 3-In-1 Multi-Purpose Potting Mix.

Cooke warned the pesticide-laced potting soil

must

be treated as a pesticide. That means caution should be used in its storage, its handling and what is grown in it.

"The label specifically prohibits the use in vegetable crops. I think [it should be prohibited in] any edible crops," Cooke said. "So that's something that we need to pay attention too. We're used to being able to use a potting soil to grow anything."

Cooke said it is important to use wear rubber gloves when handling the soil -- something most consumers might overlook.

"With any pesticide you are putting some responsibility on that consumer to read that label," Cooke said.

That means reading the fine print on the the bag, which few homeowners do.

Some people worry that something as common as a bag of dirt may not get the attention it really requires.

A Bayer spokesperson said there is only a tiny amount of the pesticide in the potting soil and it presents a minimal risk.

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