Diatomaceous earth - is it safe?


I've got a silverfish and cricket problem in the house. I've read that diatomaceous earth is good for killing insects.
But I saw some sites say that if you breathe DE, then you might have serious lung problems. Then I saw some sites say that there are different types of DE - you want the "food grade" type, which apparently is safe for humans, and is even used in flour and Bisquick. Is that true?
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On Aug 14, 5:45 pm, " snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com"

keep your house clean; as long as it don't look ( and smell) like a pigpen, insect infestation won't be an issue
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wrote:

Not sure how keeping your house "clean" helps with crickets and silverfish. The former eat mostly plants and the latter attack books and natural fiber clothing. I worked in a library with a massive silverfish problem, and there was no food allowed anywhere near the stacks. Now if we're talking roaches or ants, cleanliness is certainly the issue, but not so much for silverfish and crickets. Besides, many cultures view crickets as good luck.
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h wrote:

Then there are "palmetto bugs", which is the euphemism for Florida cockroaches, which are quite sizeable and _very_ different from the pathetic little things that Northerners call "cockroaches". A palmetto bug will eat just about _anything_. I've seen them eat paint, plaster, styrofoam, and the wax on a high voltage transformer (that latter proved fatal for both the bug and the transformer). One could argue that cleanliness was the issue if the kitchen was the only thing they got into, but there were as many of them in the detached garage and the equally detached workshop as in the kitchen. Oh, and they fly, _very_ well--I once hit one with a Cessna at 10,000 feet.
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LOL. I grew up in New Orleans so I understand about palmetto bugs. However, there can be VERY large roaches up North, too. Thirty years ago, fresh out of college, a former dorm-mate invited me to her first apartment in Queens. It was one room, near the El, and not in the greatest neighborhood. She kept it very clean, but it was clear that most of the other apartments had roaches. Whenever they'd spray, you'd see them coming out from under doors and even walls. I was used to palmetto bugs, so the little roaches didn't bother me that much. The garbage chute, however, was a different story. Those roaches were the same size as the ones you see in the Yucatan. You needed a book to squash these things, a newspaper just bounced off. I'm talking dent your shoes big. Need to repaint the whole wall big. When they asked for your garbage, you gave it to them.
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wrote:

The big ones are called water bugs in NY. Both the big and small ones are quite smart. When you step on them, they know how to snap their fingers to make you think they've broken their backs. Then when you lift your foot, they're fine and they run away.
(Actually I lived in Brooklyn for 12 years and only had roaches for 2 to 3 of them. The first year, in my brother's apartment, another apartment, and a sublet on Eastern Parkway, no roaches. Then I got an apartment and they got bad when I wasn't in the room and the lights were off, but they hid when I was in the room, which I thought was thoughtful of them, because it avoided disgusting me.
Then I moved to a 6 room apartment in the same building, and most years there were none, but a new guy bought the building and he didn't have a regular exterminator (as required by NY law) and it got gradually worse, until I decided to bomb the apartment. For this, I got one bomb for the kitchen and one for the rest of the apartment. They are aeorsol cans that once started, keep going until the can is empty and a fog fills the apartment. One has to get everyone out and leave himself as soon as triggering them. IIRC, the wall swtiches have to be taped so you don't accidentally trip one and ignite the vapor, although maybe that was for polyurethaning the floors.
Anyhow, it killed all the bugs and the tenants in landlord-tenant court had forced the landlord to have an exterminator by then, and I didn't have any roaches for the next 5 years until I moved.
Boric acid was very helpful in earlier years. Some people would put it along all the baseboards and their apartments looked like slums to me. I just put it behind the stove where no one could see it but the roaches, and I think it worked just as well.
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You're not supposed to SNORT the stuff!
duh ..........
Steve
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Diatomaceous earth is dirt (actually it's the ground up remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shell algae).
Certain types of DE, when breathed in quantity, can cause silicosis.
There are web sites that will claim disaster for virtually everything on the planet (and beyond).
For your application, best to be safe and use DDT.
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On 8/14/2008 2:45 PM snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com spake thus:

Diatomaceous earth is safe, as in non-toxic, but like a lot of other stuff (including just plain old household dust), it's better not to breathe it. The very reason it's harmful to insects--it has very sharp points that cut the critter's outside covering--makes it undesirable to have in one's lungs.
If I were using it, I'd just take reasonable precautions not to inhale the dust; otherwise, don't sweat it.
No difference between various grades, so far as I know, unless there are other minerals mixed in which might be harmful (like asbestos). If in doubt, use the "food grade".
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On Thu, 14 Aug 2008 14:45:41 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com"

All I know is that there was DE in my chemistry set for kids, 50 years ago. Of course that was when we didn't have no stinkin' safety standards and men were men and even little boys were men by todays rules.
When we didn't have germ killing soap and we got used to killing the germs ourselves.
Oh, and get rid of all your books and plants. We have the Internet now and we don't need no stinkin' books.
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On Thu, 14 Aug 2008 14:45:41 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Read the label and do some research before indiscriminately using pesticides of any type. Each critter can be controlled by the right stuff. Does DE work on crickets and silverfish?
Number One way to start controlling insect pests is to destroy habit.
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You better stop using it on spaghetti as a replacement for cheese.
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Then why do they call it diatomaceous cheese?
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On Aug 14, 5:45 pm, " snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com"

You can also use Boric Acid. It's safe; dissolved in water it's often used as a mild antiseptic for eye irritations and infections. For roaches and silverfish, when it's ingested it damages their metabolism and internal organs. Externally, boric acid crystals damages their exoskeletons. Just sprinkle it behind cabinets, under the sink, etc.
Cheers,
Steve
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On Thu, 14 Aug 2008 22:11:38 -0700 (PDT), Steve in Virginia

Agree. Boric Acid is what I sprinkle around outside entry doors, garages, etc.
DE is microscopic fossils.
The type used for pool filters is heated to a high temperature, thus melting the "jagged" edges. It will not work on the insects.
Food grade DE is not heated/processed in the above manner. The fossils retain the sharp edges, just as they were harvested. As a food additive (food grade) it will help reduce parasites in farm animals --- cattle. You can by this at agricultural supply stores.
The food grade is also suggested for controlling slugs.
YMMV.
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