Caution: Inhaling Diatomaceous Earth hazards

by Anonymous

People need to be very careful that they and their pets don't inhale it.

I would not recommend it for a dust bath or in the litter box because the chance of it getting in their lungs is great.

It can really harm the lungs if inhaled. Otherwise great stuff.

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Feb 15, 2013
How To Use Diatomaceous Earth Safely
by: Pauly

Thank you Anonymous,

Yes Diatomaceous Earth food grade is a very fine dust like that of baking flour only much harder in a crystal form.

If inhaled too much or for long periods of time the tiny crystals can become lodged within the walls of the lungs causing irritation and also a restriction of oxygen to the body.

This was also deemed a disease known as...wait for it...wait for it

Whew! But you can just call it "silicosis" for short.

This is why I have recommended (on my DE pages) that you use caution when applying the Diatomaceous Earth powder to plants, animals, insects, and you.

Our anonymous visitor brings up a great point that I would like to reemphasize. Like anything in life, you must know your limitation and what is safe or not safe for you.

I personally do not have a problem with the dust and have used it for years, but some do have sensitive lungs and therefore would warrant some kind of mask or other approach for applying it.

If you have any doubt then please use a 3M mask or painters mask and do not apply on a windy day.

You can also apply it in a wet application to your plants, such as in a sprayer. When it drys it will leave the DE residue behind for it to do its work.

Thanks again anonymous for the great tip,

P.S. As for the pets, It's always best to err on the side of caution and if anyone has any great tips on the way they use it please join in.

Aug 29, 2018
Danger to lungs after wet application?
by: Dirtnut

Can the DE be stirred up after a wet application dries and become a breathing hazard to kids or pets?

Feb 16, 2020
DE Wet Application Cautions
by: Pauly

The short answer is yes, but this really depends on how much is being used.

If you were to spray it in large quantities (which generally is not advised as you need little to be effective) after DE dries, the wind can pick it up, causing it to become airborne.

If little is used, it has better advantage of sticking to the intended target and not become airborne.

Diatomaceous Earth should be treated like any other finely ground mineral, such as, Agricultural lime, calcium, eggshells , etc.

If applying DE in your home, vacuum it or sweep it after it's use has become effective.


Jun 05, 2020
Please be careful when using
by: Wytchwood

I have food-grade DE and accidentally inhaled some when applying it behind my outside car mirrors to repel wasps that were getting in there and building nests.

Wind whipped some of it in my face. On top of that, first time I applied it I got stung. But it worked.

So 4 days later I applied some again and that's when a breeze was blowing. I have had a horrible sinus condition on the left side of my face, with a sac of fluid below my left eye.

Pain on that side of my face was excruciating starting 4 days after that second application of DE when I think I inhaled some.

Even my upper teeth hurt on that side, couldn't bite down. I'm finally on antibiotics and wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.

Pain is better but this sac of fluid looks horrible. So hoping the antibiotics will do the trick.

Have had no sore throat, ear ache, no coughing up stuff except once a small amount that was blood tinged. No chest congestion. Just had the horrible pressure and pain of the worst sinus infection, which I don't usually get.

That's why I suspect the DE. I'm sorry this is gross but please be careful when using.

Jul 01, 2021
Please be careful when using Diatomaceous Earth
by: Pauly

Hello Wytchwood,

I always tell people to Please be careful when using Diatomaceous Earth.

Use downwind but preferably when there's no wind. However that's not always possible.

DE is not any different than other ground minerals. It's a dust, and contrary to misinformation it is NOT shards of glass or even like it.

I'm going to say something that no one else says (or even knows) Diatomaceous Earth is a mineral that comes from plants.

The Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth is mined in it's natural state. Other types of DE have been processed and used as filters.

Food Grade DE has been approved by the FDA to be used in the foods we eat.

I have so much information on Diatomaceous Earth it could be, yet another book, but I do recommend using safety measures and I have a page on that as well.

Diatomaceous Earth Info

I'm very glad you're okay, Wytchwood. Keep using it as it's effective. There are over 1,000 uses and more for DE. Practice safety when using.

DE Safety

Thanks for your story and get well soon,

I also talk about it in my latest books.

My Books

Sep 07, 2022
Cant stop coughing
by: Teaa

I was "exposed" similar to Wytchy but I've been coughing so frequently and lung wracking that it's like whooping cough. Is there a way to home medicate or should I be ER bound? Seriously

Jul 25, 2023
I lost a cat to Dimaceous Earth
by: Mary

I was trying to minimize flea activity naturally, I have seven cats. One of them, a female with slight asthma (she did not require medical assistance, just above normal care ie; I was very proactive against dust in the home, groomed her and the others after being outside, etc. I had a friend that told me about D earth, I also looked at video from YouTube on how to use it on your pets. All of the cats except this one female had no reaction. The female, after being dusted, sneezed and later had some nose drainage. She preferred to stay outside, and was content to lay on a chair. A few days later, she stopped eating, then stopped drinking and seemed to be panting. I bathed her, trying to remove any remaining dust, and took her to the Emergency Vet Hospital. After reviewing the x-rays of her lungs, it was obvious to understand her respiratory distress. She was given steroids, and a bronchial treatment to try to lessen the inflammation so she could breathe. I took her home. Within two days, she plummeted again. I raced her back to the hospital, but she passed in my arms in the car. I attempted cpr during the ride, but she just couldn’t get air. I will never use this in relation to animals again. A word to the wise.

Jul 26, 2023
How to Using Diatomaceous Earth Safely
by: Pauly

Hello Mary,

I am deeply sorry for your loss. I have lost several animals to natural events (predators mostly) but never from Diatomaceous Earth.

Many years ago I wrote an article on how to use Diatomaceous Earth safely and also posted it in this thread as well. And linked to it. It's also in my books.

I would never recommend people or animals use it that have sensitive lungs. If they do, they should proceed with caution and take a different approach with the application.

If they feel it's too risky, it's just not worth the it.

Diatomaceous Earth is much like ground agricultural lime, Azomite, ground eggshell and oysters shells, or any type of ground grains, i.e.. wheat, corn, etc.

It's a fine dust that must be taken with great caution for those that have sensitive lungs.

I hope people stumble upon your post in this thread and take you words to heart and not use if they or their animals have asthma. At least decide other ways of applying, such as a light wet application.

Please! to everyone, read the article in this thread on Using Diatomaceous Earth Safely.

I hope in the future this doesn't prevent you from using this form of plant mineral. There's a lot of terrible information out there (mis, dis, il, and mal).

Thanks Mary,
Publisher of this Site.

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