Erich quoted in BDN article on World Naked Gardening Day

Susan Erich, a professor of plant, soil, and environmental sciences at the University of Maine, spoke with the Bangor Daily News for the article, “Celebrating World Naked Gardening Day could be good for your health.” Exposure to dirt — and all the bacteria, germs and other microscopic life within it — can be beneficial to humans, according to Erich. “The human immune system is stronger when it gets exposed to different critters,” said Erich. “We’re learning more and more about the microbial life that’s living within us. Our digestive tract has a whole suite of microorganisms. They’re really an important part of human health. We’re just starting to learn about that.” Humans evolved in close proximity to animals and to dirt, and so our more modern approach to cleanliness may actually be harmful to people’s health, the article states. “We have more allergy problems, more asthma problems in our children, possibly because we’re too clean,” Erich said. “The idea is that there’s a lot of microbial life in the soil, that we evolved in pretty close contact with it and don’t necessarily have to obliterate that life. It’s great to play in the soil.” Erich, who directs the Maine Soil Testing Service on campus, suggests doing some homework first to make sure your patch of dirt is safe to get naked in on May 5. “Make sure the soil you’re naked in isn’t contaminated with lead or anything else,” she said. “And then have a great time.”