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Subject: Cadmium in worm castings

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  • Judy Phillips
    I don t want to appear argumentative, Robert, just curious. I don t quite get the gist of this. If the worms are only digesting organic compost from my own
    Message 1 of 5 , Apr 24, 2002
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      I don't want to appear argumentative, Robert, just curious. I don't quite
      get the gist of this. If the worms are only digesting organic compost from
      my own land--which is as clean as nature can be in this day and age--where
      would the cadmium be coming from? Is this another danger from the sky? I
      have read warnings about mercury pollution from rain water, for example.
      Unfortunately, it seems that we are all swimming in heavy metals and other
      toxins as a result of environmental pollution. Do these toxins become more
      concentrated in the process of producing worm castings?
      More info would be appreciated.
      Judy

      >>>>Judy asked if using worm castings as compost was a good idea. According
      to a professor of agriculture at Lousiana State University in Baton Rouge (I
      can get the name and reference if anybody wants it), using worm castings
      poses the risk of cadmium build-up.He has come to this conclusion after
      testing many worm casting samples (in Louisiana and Mississippi). A "risk"
      does not mean that cadmium will usually be found in worm castings, only that
      it is sometimes found, and when it is, you need to be concerned--cadmium is
      a toxic heavy metal. .
    • Robert Monie
      Reply: Well, Judy, I would feel the same way if someone came in my garden and accused my earthworms of accumulating cadmium or some other heavy metal. I would
      Message 2 of 5 , Apr 25, 2002
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        Reply:
        Well, Judy, I would feel the same way if someone came in my garden and accused my earthworms of accumulating cadmium or some other heavy metal. I would say, "what, are you crazy, not in my garden, thank you; maybe somebody else's worms do not but not my worms, not in my soil." I'm sure the farmers in Louisiana and Mississippi that the LSU prof. broke the bad news to felt the same way.They certainly were not trying to harm anyone. I need to point out quickly that many of the samples composted with worm castings were cadmium-free. Some farmers using worm-castings for compost had the problem and some did not. The conclusion I draw from this is not that using worm-castings is "bad" but that if a risk for cadmium accumulation in worm castings exists, it should be checked out. (And to complete the syllogism, yes, the potential for cadmium accumulation exists everywhere, even in Bob Monie's garden one mile from the fine alluvial soil of the Mississippi River, so Bob Monie should check it out.)
        What exactly is the mechanism of cadmium build up? I am not a professional entomologist, still less an expert on worms, but I would guess it can be explained geometrically. If you have extremely minute cadmium deposits spread randomly throughout your soil (as many soils probably do), and you allow the earthworms to roam freely (naturally) throughout the soil, the concentration of cadmium will probably remain very minute and harmless, because the castings are diffusely spread throughout the soil. But, if you trap earthworms in one small space to "harvest" their castings you need--like a lab scientist--to be especially sure that whatever the the worms are eating is essentially cadmium-free. Testing their output; that is, their castings, for cadmium content would be the most reliable way of determining this.
        If I understand Fukuoka right, he advocates leaving the earthworms in the soil to burrow, mine, digest, and excrete in their own geometrical patterns and their own sweet way rather than pulling them out to collect and concentrate their castings for compost. I conclude that anyone who collects worm castings is deviating a bit from "nature" and should have them tested to make sure they are safe. The more you deviate from nature the more "scientific" you have to be. I've learned this from my forays into hydroponics (a method of growing plants that Fukuoka, for many good reasons, does not care for.)
        Cadmium, of course, is an chemical element and strictly speaking does not "biodegrade." Cadmium compounds found naturally do biodegrade, but the elemental cadmium remains potentially toxic.

        Judy Phillips <newmoon@...> wrote: I don't want to appear argumentative, Robert, just curious. I don't quite
        get the gist of this. If the worms are only digesting organic compost from
        my own land--which is as clean as nature can be in this day and age--where
        would the cadmium be coming from? Is this another danger from the sky? I
        have read warnings about mercury pollution from rain water, for example.
        Unfortunately, it seems that we are all swimming in heavy metals and other
        toxins as a result of environmental pollution. Do these toxins become more
        concentrated in the process of producing worm castings?
        More info would be appreciated.
        Judy

        >>>>Judy asked if using worm castings as compost was a good idea. According
        to a professor of agriculture at Lousiana State University in Baton Rouge (I
        can get the name and reference if anybody wants it), using worm castings
        poses the risk of cadmium build-up.He has come to this conclusion after
        testing many worm casting samples (in Louisiana and Mississippi). A "risk"
        does not mean that cadmium will usually be found in worm castings, only that
        it is sometimes found, and when it is, you need to be concerned--cadmium is
        a toxic heavy metal. .



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      • Carol
        I think that the source of the confusion, for me, was that I was thinking of these worm castings as being produced at one s own farm/garden. If your worms
        Message 3 of 5 , Apr 25, 2002
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          I think that the source of the confusion, for me, was that I was
          thinking of these worm castings as being produced at one's own
          farm/garden. If your worms have cadmium, your plants have cadmium, so
          you've got troubles either way.

          Certainly, everyone should get their soil checked for particularly
          nasty things like cadmium.

          The importance of the original information, to my mind, is in the fact
          that many people get earthworm castings from outside sources, and
          those sources could be very different (high in cadmium, for example)
          from one's own homegrown earthworm castings. So someone adding
          outside castings would be attempting to enrich the soil but could
          actually be bringing in someone else's cadmium. Have I got you right,
          Robert?

          :)
          Carol

          > -----Original Message-----
          > From: Robert Monie [mailto:bobm20001@...]
          > Sent: Thursday, April 25, 2002 6:31 AM
          > To: fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com
          > Subject: Re: [fukuoka_farming] Subject: Cadmium in worm castings
          >
          >
          >
          > Reply:
          > Well, Judy, I would feel the same way if someone came in my
          > garden and accused my earthworms of accumulating cadmium or
          > some other heavy metal. I would say, "what, are you crazy,
          > not in my garden, thank you; maybe somebody else's worms do
          > not but not my worms, not in my soil." I'm sure the
          > farmers in Louisiana and Mississippi that the LSU prof.
          > broke the bad news to felt the same way.They certainly were
          > not trying to harm anyone. I need to point out quickly
          > that many of the samples composted with worm castings were
          > cadmium-free. Some farmers using worm-castings for compost
          > had the problem and some did not. The conclusion I draw
          > from this is not that using worm-castings is "bad" but that
          > if a risk for cadmium accumulation in worm castings exists,
          > it should be checked out. (And to complete the syllogism,
          > yes, the potential for cadmium accumulation exists
          > everywhere, even in Bob Monie's garden one mile from the
          > fine alluvial soil of the Mississippi River, so Bob Monie
          > should check it o
          > ut.)
          > What exactly is the mechanism of cadmium build up? I am
          > not a professional entomologist, still less an expert on
          > worms, but I would guess it can be explained geometrically.
          > If you have extremely minute cadmium deposits spread
          > randomly throughout your soil (as many soils probably do),
          > and you allow the earthworms to roam freely (naturally)
          > throughout the soil, the concentration of cadmium will
          > probably remain very minute and harmless, because the
          > castings are diffusely spread throughout the soil. But, if
          > you trap earthworms in one small space to "harvest" their
          > castings you need--like a lab scientist--to be especially
          > sure that whatever the the worms are eating is essentially
          > cadmium-free. Testing their output; that is, their
          > castings, for cadmium content would be the most reliable
          > way of determining this.
          > If I understand Fukuoka right, he advocates leaving the
          > earthworms in the soil to burrow, mine, digest, and excrete
          > in their own geometrical patterns and their own sweet way
          > rather than pulling them out to collect and concentrate
          > their castings for compost. I conclude that anyone who
          > collects worm castings is deviating a bit from "nature" and
          > should have them tested to make sure they are safe. The
          > more you deviate from nature the more "scientific" you have
          > to be. I've learned this from my forays into hydroponics (a
          > method of growing plants that Fukuoka, for many good
          > reasons, does not care for.)
          > Cadmium, of course, is an chemical element and strictly
          > speaking does not "biodegrade." Cadmium compounds found
          > naturally do biodegrade, but the elemental cadmium remains
          > potentially toxic.
          >
          > Judy Phillips <newmoon@...> wrote: I don't want
          > to appear argumentative, Robert, just curious. I don't quite
          > get the gist of this. If the worms are only digesting
          > organic compost from
          > my own land--which is as clean as nature can be in this day
          > and age--where
          > would the cadmium be coming from? Is this another danger
          > from the sky? I
          > have read warnings about mercury pollution from rain water,
          > for example.
          > Unfortunately, it seems that we are all swimming in heavy
          > metals and other
          > toxins as a result of environmental pollution. Do these
          > toxins become more
          > concentrated in the process of producing worm castings?
          > More info would be appreciated.
          > Judy
          >
          > >>>>Judy asked if using worm castings as compost was a good
          > idea. According
          > to a professor of agriculture at Lousiana State University
          > in Baton Rouge (I
          > can get the name and reference if anybody wants it), using
          > worm castings
          > poses the risk of cadmium build-up.He has come to this
          > conclusion after
          > testing many worm casting samples (in Louisiana and
          > Mississippi). A "risk"
          > does not mean that cadmium will usually be found in worm
          > castings, only that
          > it is sometimes found, and when it is, you need to be
          > concerned--cadmium is
          > a toxic heavy metal. .
          >
          >
          >
          > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
          > fukuoka_farming-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          >
          >
          >
          > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of
          > Service.
          >
          >
          >
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        • burt levy
          --I think part of the reason for the findings of this study, is that it was done in Louisiana and Mississippi. The river runs through our heartland and
          Message 4 of 5 , Apr 25, 2002
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            --I think part of the reason for the findings of this
            study, is that it was done in Louisiana and
            Mississippi. The river runs through our heartland and
            accumulates agricultural runoff and sewage as it goes.
            By the time it hits Louisiana and Miss. the levels of
            pollution have been building up greatly. In Minnesota
            where the river starts, the river is pretty clean. I
            imagine that in Indiana the river is still relatively
            clean. However after its' run through the heartland it
            picked up all of that pollution from the farmlands and
            metro areas. Also Louisiana has the most polluted
            water in the country. The reason is that it has many
            chemical plants on the river and oil refineries. So I
            believe that the worm castings are naturally showing
            the condition of the Louisiana and Miss. environment.
            So if you live in a different region of the country,
            then it is probable that the worm castings won't have
            those high cadmium levels. That of course would depend
            on the conditions of your area. Unfortunately we are
            all exposed to different types of pollution all over
            the country. Perhaps the earth worms are like canaries
            in the coal mine. Robert Monie <bobm20001@...>
            wrote:
            >
            > Reply:
            > Well, Judy, I would feel the same way if someone
            > came in my garden and accused my earthworms of
            > accumulating cadmium or some other heavy metal. I
            > would say, "what, are you crazy, not in my garden,
            > thank you; maybe somebody else's worms do not but
            > not my worms, not in my soil." I'm sure the farmers
            > in Louisiana and Mississippi that the LSU prof.
            > broke the bad news to felt the same way.They
            > certainly were not trying to harm anyone. I need to
            > point out quickly that many of the samples composted
            > with worm castings were cadmium-free. Some farmers
            > using worm-castings for compost had the problem and
            > some did not. The conclusion I draw from this is not
            > that using worm-castings is "bad" but that if a risk
            > for cadmium accumulation in worm castings exists, it
            > should be checked out. (And to complete the
            > syllogism, yes, the potential for cadmium
            > accumulation exists everywhere, even in Bob Monie's
            > garden one mile from the fine alluvial soil of the
            > Mississippi River, so Bob Monie should check it
            > out.)
            > What exactly is the mechanism of cadmium build up?
            > I am not a professional entomologist, still less an
            > expert on worms, but I would guess it can be
            > explained geometrically. If you have extremely
            > minute cadmium deposits spread randomly throughout
            > your soil (as many soils probably do), and you allow
            > the earthworms to roam freely (naturally) throughout
            > the soil, the concentration of cadmium will probably
            > remain very minute and harmless, because the
            > castings are diffusely spread throughout the soil.
            > But, if you trap earthworms in one small space to
            > "harvest" their castings you need--like a lab
            > scientist--to be especially sure that whatever the
            > the worms are eating is essentially cadmium-free.
            > Testing their output; that is, their castings, for
            > cadmium content would be the most reliable way of
            > determining this.
            > If I understand Fukuoka right, he advocates leaving
            > the earthworms in the soil to burrow, mine, digest,
            > and excrete in their own geometrical patterns and
            > their own sweet way rather than pulling them out to
            > collect and concentrate their castings for compost.
            > I conclude that anyone who collects worm castings is
            > deviating a bit from "nature" and should have them
            > tested to make sure they are safe. The more you
            > deviate from nature the more "scientific" you have
            > to be. I've learned this from my forays into
            > hydroponics (a method of growing plants that
            > Fukuoka, for many good reasons, does not care for.)
            >
            > Cadmium, of course, is an chemical element and
            > strictly speaking does not "biodegrade." Cadmium
            > compounds found naturally do biodegrade, but the
            > elemental cadmium remains potentially toxic.
            >
            > Judy Phillips <newmoon@...> wrote: I
            > don't want to appear argumentative, Robert, just
            > curious. I don't quite
            > get the gist of this. If the worms are only
            > digesting organic compost from
            > my own land--which is as clean as nature can be in
            > this day and age--where
            > would the cadmium be coming from? Is this another
            > danger from the sky? I
            > have read warnings about mercury pollution from rain
            > water, for example.
            > Unfortunately, it seems that we are all swimming in
            > heavy metals and other
            > toxins as a result of environmental pollution. Do
            > these toxins become more
            > concentrated in the process of producing worm
            > castings?
            > More info would be appreciated.
            > Judy
            >
            > >>>>Judy asked if using worm castings as compost was
            > a good idea. According
            > to a professor of agriculture at Lousiana State
            > University in Baton Rouge (I
            > can get the name and reference if anybody wants it),
            > using worm castings
            > poses the risk of cadmium build-up.He has come to
            > this conclusion after
            > testing many worm casting samples (in Louisiana and
            > Mississippi). A "risk"
            > does not mean that cadmium will usually be found in
            > worm castings, only that
            > it is sometimes found, and when it is, you need to
            > be concerned--cadmium is
            > a toxic heavy metal. .
            >
            >
            >
            > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
            > fukuoka_farming-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
            >
            >
            >
            > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo!
            > Terms of Service.
            >
            >
            >
            > ---------------------------------
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            > Yahoo! Games - play chess, backgammon, pool and more
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been
            > removed]
            >
            >


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          • Robert Monie
            REPLY: Emilia is right that we shouldn t get paranoid about the earthworms naturally existing in our soil concentrating cadmium. But whoever buys worms by the
            Message 5 of 5 , Apr 25, 2002
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              REPLY:

              Emilia is right that we shouldn't get paranoid about
              the earthworms naturally existing in our soil
              concentrating cadmium. But whoever buys worms by the
              hundreds and dumps them into containers ("worm
              factories" or "worm farms")to produce castings and
              compost had better check to see if those worms are
              "outputting" cadmium before using the castings and
              compost.

              The lower part of the Mississippi River is horribly
              polluted with petrochemicals and other unspeakable
              things, but cadmium by no means appears uniformly in
              the soil or plants near its banks. If the river alone
              were to blame for the cadmium, the LSU prof. would not
              have raised the red flag just for worm castings.
              Worms, as Emilia says, concentrate heavy metals in
              their bodies and in their castings. The farmers
              singled out by the LSU professor were using worm
              castings as their main source of compost. They were
              not just growing produce in naturally worm-rich soil.


              Theoretically, someone adding worm castings to
              seedballs could be adding cadmium without knowing it.
              I don't mean to suggest that this happens often, only
              that it could, and for the sake of safety, we need to
              know that it could.

              Incidentally, the philosopher Bertrand Russell years
              ago said that one of the few times in his life that he
              had felt "real peace" was when he was on the LSU
              Campus in Baton Rouge to lecture and he ambled over to
              the river bank to look at the Mississippi. If only he
              had known, even back then, how polluted that river was
              (is).

              --- Carol <reggiecs@...> wrote:
              > I think that the source of the confusion, for me,
              > was that I was
              > thinking of these worm castings as being produced at
              > one's own
              > farm/garden. If your worms have cadmium, your
              > plants have cadmium, so
              > you've got troubles either way.
              >
              > Certainly, everyone should get their soil checked
              > for particularly
              > nasty things like cadmium.
              >
              > The importance of the original information, to my
              > mind, is in the fact
              > that many people get earthworm castings from outside
              > sources, and
              > those sources could be very different (high in
              > cadmium, for example)
              > from one's own homegrown earthworm castings. So
              > someone adding
              > outside castings would be attempting to enrich the
              > soil but could
              > actually be bringing in someone else's cadmium.
              > Have I got you right,
              > Robert?
              >
              > :)
              > Carol
              >
              > > -----Original Message-----
              > > From: Robert Monie [mailto:bobm20001@...]
              > > Sent: Thursday, April 25, 2002 6:31 AM
              > > To: fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com
              > > Subject: Re: [fukuoka_farming] Subject: Cadmium in
              > worm castings
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > > Reply:
              > > Well, Judy, I would feel the same way if someone
              > came in my
              > > garden and accused my earthworms of accumulating
              > cadmium or
              > > some other heavy metal. I would say, "what, are
              > you crazy,
              > > not in my garden, thank you; maybe somebody else's
              > worms do
              > > not but not my worms, not in my soil." I'm sure
              > the
              > > farmers in Louisiana and Mississippi that the LSU
              > prof.
              > > broke the bad news to felt the same way.They
              > certainly were
              > > not trying to harm anyone. I need to point out
              > quickly
              > > that many of the samples composted with worm
              > castings were
              > > cadmium-free. Some farmers using worm-castings for
              > compost
              > > had the problem and some did not. The conclusion I
              > draw
              > > from this is not that using worm-castings is "bad"
              > but that
              > > if a risk for cadmium accumulation in worm
              > castings exists,
              > > it should be checked out. (And to complete the
              > syllogism,
              > > yes, the potential for cadmium accumulation exists
              > > everywhere, even in Bob Monie's garden one mile
              > from the
              > > fine alluvial soil of the Mississippi River, so
              > Bob Monie
              > > should check it o
              > > ut.)
              > > What exactly is the mechanism of cadmium build up?
              > I am
              > > not a professional entomologist, still less an
              > expert on
              > > worms, but I would guess it can be explained
              > geometrically.
              > > If you have extremely minute cadmium deposits
              > spread
              > > randomly throughout your soil (as many soils
              > probably do),
              > > and you allow the earthworms to roam freely
              > (naturally)
              > > throughout the soil, the concentration of cadmium
              > will
              > > probably remain very minute and harmless, because
              > the
              > > castings are diffusely spread throughout the soil.
              > But, if
              > > you trap earthworms in one small space to
              > "harvest" their
              > > castings you need--like a lab scientist--to be
              > especially
              > > sure that whatever the the worms are eating is
              > essentially
              > > cadmium-free. Testing their output; that is, their
              > > castings, for cadmium content would be the most
              > reliable
              > > way of determining this.
              > > If I understand Fukuoka right, he advocates
              > leaving the
              > > earthworms in the soil to burrow, mine, digest,
              > and excrete
              > > in their own geometrical patterns and their own
              > sweet way
              > > rather than pulling them out to collect and
              > concentrate
              > > their castings for compost. I conclude that
              > anyone who
              > > collects worm castings is deviating a bit from
              > "nature" and
              > > should have them tested to make sure they are
              > safe. The
              > > more you deviate from nature the more "scientific"
              > you have
              > > to be. I've learned this from my forays into
              > hydroponics (a
              > > method of growing plants that Fukuoka, for many
              > good
              > > reasons, does not care for.)
              > > Cadmium, of course, is an chemical element and
              > strictly
              > > speaking does not "biodegrade." Cadmium compounds
              > found
              > > naturally do biodegrade, but the elemental cadmium
              > remains
              > > potentially toxic.
              > >
              > > Judy Phillips <newmoon@...> wrote: I
              > don't want
              > > to appear argumentative, Robert, just curious. I
              > don't quite
              > > get the gist of this. If the worms are only
              > digesting
              > > organic compost from
              > > my own land--which is as clean as nature can be in
              > this day
              > > and age--where
              > > would the cadmium be coming from? Is this another
              > danger
              > > from the sky? I
              > > have read warnings about mercury pollution from
              > rain water,
              > > for example.
              > > Unfortunately, it seems that we are all swimming
              > in heavy
              > > metals and other
              > > toxins as a result of environmental pollution. Do
              > these
              > > toxins become more
              > > concentrated in the process of producing worm
              > castings?
              > > More info would be appreciated.
              > > Judy
              > >
              > > >>>>Judy asked if using worm castings as compost
              > was a good
              > > idea. According
              > > to a professor of agriculture at Lousiana State
              > University
              > > in Baton Rouge (I
              > > can get the name and reference if anybody wants
              > it), using
              > > worm castings
              > > poses the risk of cadmium build-up.He has come to
              > this
              > > conclusion after
              > > testing many worm casting samples (in Louisiana
              > and
              > > Mississippi). A "risk"
              > > does not mean that cadmium will usually be found
              > in worm
              > > castings, only that
              > > it is sometimes found, and when it is, you need to
              > be
              > > concerned--cadmium is
              > > a toxic heavy metal. .
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
              > > fukuoka_farming-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo!
              > Terms of
              > > Service.
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > > ---------------------------------
              > > Do You Yahoo!?
              > > Yahoo! Games - play chess, backgammon, pool and
              > more
              > >
              > > [Non-text portions of this message have been
              > removed]
              >
              === message truncated ===


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