SAFETY OF OUR CHILDREN AND PETS IS IMPORTANTThe Urban Compost Tumbler (UCT) was designed as a fully enclosed, off the ground unit to provide maximum pest resistance and to help protect children and pets from entry and odors. This is important for several reasons:
Composting yard and kitchen material in open compost piles or unsecured composting bins can present health risks to people and pets (especially younger children). Unsecured compost will attract all sorts of pests ranging from insects, rats, raccoons and similar rodents and animals, some of which can carry unwanted bacteria and viruses into your compost. The composting process itself can at times produce unwanted pathogens. It is important that young children and pets not be allowed access to materials that are composting.
Another benefit of the enclosed unit like the Urban Compost Tumbler is it is near odor free. This is important to avoid attracting pests and producing offensive smells to guests and neighbors.
While it should not prevent you from composting, you should be aware of the possibility of recycling pesticides and herbicides in your compost. This might happen if the materials you are composting have had recent heavy applications of these chemicals. For example, people have spread compost on their garden and then noticed that some of the broad leave plants were not doing as well as expected. Turns out, they had recently put a heavy dose of a broad leaf herbicide on their lawn, mowed the lawn and added the grass to their composter. When they put the compost on the garden, they had unknowingly recycled some of the herbicide into their garden. This is an extreme example but you can see the point. The use of chemicals in our environment should always give us concern and that includes watching what goes into our compost.
There are two potential hazards in working with compost. The first concerns the materials used in composting that could contain disease-causing organisms or pathogens. For example, this is why it is best to avoid meat, dairy products and the other similar materials. While not a wide spread problem, the second concern relates to allergic reactions to airborne spores. Here are some specific points from Cornell University's Guidelines for Prudent Composting:
- Avoid certain inputs to the compost pile such as raw poultry or meat wastes, pet feces, and plate scrapings from people who are ill.
- Consider managing your composting system to ensure that it gets and stays hot long enough to reduce pathogens.
- Practice good personal hygiene when handling compost. Proper personal sanitation is the most effective method for controlling the impact of any pathogens that may be in the compost. Wash hands after handling compost and/or use gloves. If the compost is particularly dusty, watering is an option.
- Persons with weakened immune systems or medical conditions that compromise the body's ability to fight infection should use caution when handling compost.
- If possible, allow composts that are produced in a small-scale setting to age for at least a year before use.
Cornell University is a leading authority on waste management and has an excellent website with just about everything you could want to know about composting. See