I wouldn't use it because it contains Guano!
A few bits of info about Bat Guano
The caves of Jamaica, like other caves around the world, face threats to their physical structure, their biodiversity, and the paleoclimatic and fossil records that they preserve. The damage being done to these ancient, underground systems has one source and that is us. The ways that humans cause damage to caves may be broadly grouped into two categories: external and internal.
External factors are activities such as removal of forest cover on, and upstream of, the caves. Deforestation on the land immediately above the system affects the temperature and humidity of the cave below. Deforestation upstream of hydrologically active systems results in the filling up of the cave with silt. A good example of this latter occurence is Clifton Cave in Dolphin Head. Within a generation, it has gone from being a beautiful, biologically rich underground world, to a mud-filled crawl less than a metre high... that which remains of it. This was caused by the complete removal of the trees that once slowed, and held, the seasonal run-off of rain.
Internal factors in the destruction of Jamaican caves are excessive human visitation for the purposes of tourism, and more importantly in Jamaica, mining for bat guano. It is unfortunately little known that the caves of the island are habitats for much more than bats. In caves that have rich deposits of guano, there live many fascinating invertebrates.
Much of the biodiversity of the Jamaican caves is dependent on bat guano as the food resource. The wholesale removal of the bat guano results in the elimination of not only the bats that made it, through repeated disturbance of a creature that lives on the metabolic edge and is easily driven over that edge, but also results in the elimination of almost every species that lived on it. The cave is effectively sterilized and although the bats might eventually return the invertebrates that were lost are gone forever. I invite any wholesalers, retailers, or buyers of Jamaican Bat Guano to join me in a visit to Bristol Cave if you doubt this. Where there was once a colony of tens of thousands of bats, where there was once a myriad of inverterbrate species, now there is nothing thanks to guano mining.
As well as supplying a habitat for living creatures, old guano deposits contain a record of the climatalogical conditions of the island that extends back over thousands of years. They also contain the fossilized remains of ancient creatures that once called these caves home.
Physical damage that can be done to formations, and bone breccia , will be unavoidable during the mining process.
There is more to be found in the caves, and the guano, than just a fertilizer that will likely be used for the production of recreational drugs; remove the guano and you remove tens of thousand of years of Jamaica's history and much of the life that still exists there. This damage will be irreversible.
The current biological status of the source caves for the commercially available Jamaican Bat Guano found at hydroponic and gardening stores across North America is unknown, but prudence suggests a careful survey to ensure that the cave systems remain healthy.
Caves, as well as being beautiful, are wonderful biological islands capable of creating their own endemic species, archives of our planet, and are in great need of our protection.
Before purchasing any bat guano fertilizer, one must consider the true need, and the consequences, of using such a product.
and it may also be harmfull to your health
ARE YOU EXPOSING YOURSELF TO
Originally published in 1994 "Australian Caver" No. 136, Pages 6-8, Revised for the 1997 ASF conference Quorn S.A.
Written by Garry K. Smith ©
Around the world, hundreds of thousands of people each year are affected by a fungal infection called Histoplasmosis. In many areas of South America, Asia, Europe, Africa and East Central United States, the disease has been found in the droppings of domestic birds, such as fowls as well as starlings and other birds which often nest around houses. To humans this microscopic fungus is potentially fatal if the infection is not treated.
At this stage you are probably saying to yourself, "what has this to do with caving".?
Evidence exists that the fungus Histoplasma capulatum grows in guano, (bat droppings) and that it may be spread by bats flying from one roost cave to another. The fungus can survive in the intestinal contents of bats as well as transmitted to other locations by wind. To date the fungus has been detected in some caves inhabited by the Bent Wing Bat (Miniopterus schreibersii blepotis) however there is no conclusive evidence that it is confined to guano of this bat species.
Other names for this disease include:- "Histo", "cave disease", "cave fever", "Darling's disease", "Ohio Valley disease, "Tingo Maria fever", "reticuloendotheliosis" and "reticuloendothelial cytomycosis".
Habitat of the Fungus.
Histoplasma capulatum is an organism which grows in soil containing a high nitrogen content, generally associated with guano of birds and bats.
The fungus reproduces by releasing spore of 2 to 5 micron in size, to the air. Ideal conditions for this to occur is in caves with high humidity (ie 67% to 87% or more), temperatures of around 20 to 29 degrees C and the presence of dry guano. Many overseas reports have recorded high concentrations of the fungus in guano around poultry sheds. In "open" environments the occurrence of the fungus is generally restricted to between latitudes 45 degrees N and 45 degrees S. Outside of this tropical zone, concentrations of the fungus is restricted to appropriate environmental conditions which can occur in "closed" environments such as caves. This is due to the stable conditions which exist inside caves, where as the surrounding countryside may be too dry or cold for sustained proliferation.
Effect on the Human Body
Histoplasmosis is a fungal infection which can affect the whole body and is caused by inhalation of an aerosol of soil, dust or guano which contains fungal spore. When the airborne spore is breathed in by cavers it may infect the lungs. The degree of infection in humans varies widely, depending on the individual's immune status and degree of exposure to the fungal spores.
In most cases the spore are introduced in such a quantity as to produce a mild form of the disease and thus builds up the bodies immunity to the fungus. This form of infection is referred to as Asymptomatic and the infected person experiences no noticeable symptoms.
When a person is subjected to high exposure, some spore reach the alveoli and begin to germinate. Conversion to an invasive yeast phase takes place, and multiplication occurs by binary fission.
The second form of infection is Acute Pulmonary Histoplasmosis. Symptoms may occur two to three weeks after infection and include a general feeling of being unwell as if suffering a mild influenza with a raised temperature, malaise or tiredness and pleuritic chest pain. In most cases the person with a mild infection quickly recovers with no treatment.
The more severe third form of infection is called Chronic Pulmonary Histoplasmosis. The condition of persons with high exposure and/or low immunity to the fungus, may quickly deteriorate to include fever, night sweating, headaches, shortness of breath, lack of energy, muscular aching, weight loss, dry coughing and severe pain around the lungs. If untreated, the lungs continue to be slowly destroyed and death can occur months or years later from bacterial pneumonia or heart failure.
The most severe form of infection is called Acute Disseminated Histoplasmosis and the yeasts are spread throughout the body via the blood stream.
Overseas statistics show that in a small percentage of cases the disease may disseminate and infect the lymph glands, liver, spleen and other vital organs, resulting in fever and weight loss. Chronic respiratory infections resemble chronic pulmonary tuberculosis. The disease progresses over a period of months to years, possibly with periods of remission. This form is more common in males over 40 and often results in death. Symptoms at the chronic stage may vary, depending on the organs involved. Unexplained fever, anaemia, heart inflammation, meningitis, pneumonia and mucosal ulceration of the mouth, bowel or stomach may be seen. The infection is not transmitted from person to person and there is no immunization presently available.
It may be of interest that Histoplasmosis is not only confined to humans, as other animals such as dogs, cats, rats and foxes are also susceptible to infection.http://wasg.iinet.net.au/histo.html