The growing media industry says Legionnaire’s Disease warnings on bags of compost are still not necessary – despite a tragedy making headlines.

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The growing media industry says Legionnaire’s Disease warnings on bags of compost are still not necessary – despite a tragedy making headlines.

Margaret Murphy’s husband Andrew died in 2014 from leukaemia. His immune system was said to have been weakened after he contracted Legionella longbeachae from compost in 2008.

Since his death, Margaret has been campaigning for stronger warnings to be printed on bags of compost.

The manufacturer of the compost paid her compensation in an out-of-court settlement.

Between 2008 and 2013, 16 people in Scotland contracted Legionnaire’s disease from compost that contained green waste. Two died.

Margaret said: “We have to have warning labels.”

In 2013 a Strathclyde University study into 22 UK compost brands found that 14 contained a variety of Legionella species. Four had Legionella longbeachae.

In 2014, a report by Health Protection Scotland recommended that bags should warn gardeners to wear a mask if the compost is dusty, as infection can occur when spores are inhaled.

The Growing Media Association (GMA) said: “The GMA reassures garden centres and customers that the risk of infection remains extremely low.

“This was confirmed by a recent report by Health Protection Scotland which recorded less than one case per million population between 2008 and 2012.

“Compared with the number of gardeners in Scotland and the volume of growing media used, the HPS report concludes that the risk of severe disease is very low.”

The Scottish Government and Health Protection Scotland said they were against labelling but would encourage anyone using compost to wear gloves, use a mask if dusty and wash their hands thoroughly afterwards.

Horticultural Trades Association chief executive Carol Paris said: “We’d promote that people should wash their hands. In most instances [of Legionnaires issues] people are not well anyway.

“I don’t believe there should be a Legionnaires warning label because I don’t think people understand that.”