Gardeners and farmers around the world have often used peat moss, which is mostly made up of a variety of moss known as sphagnum moss. Peat moss is a further deconstructed and decomposed form of the sphagnum moss and is often added to the name brand potting soils sold worldwide. Because of its low pH and ability to hold both water and air well, peat moss is helpful in growing many different plants and crops. However, there is some debate as to whether peat moss has a potentially negative effect on the environment, along with health concerns.
Contributing to Global Warming
When left in its natural habitat, peat moss acts as a reserve for carbon emissions. The carbon is stored within the peat moss, and it is not until the peat moss is removed and mined for use in gardens and potting soil--and the peat begins to decompose--that those carbon emissions are released into the environment, according to treehugger.com.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that people who have contact with peat moss containing the fungus Sporothrix schenckii have the potential of contracting sporotrichosis. The fungal spores from the moss enter the blood stream through a cut or open would and infect the person. To protect yourself from coming down with sporotrichosis, cover any exposed skin that may come into contact with the peat moss by wearing gloves and a long-sleeved shirt.
Using Up a Natural Resource
Peat moss is collected from peat bogs; the wetlands of these peat bogs only exist in about 3 percent of Earth, mostly in Finland, Canada, Ireland and Sweden. As the peat is collected and then harvested, this slow-growing (about 1 millimeter in depth annually) moss is over time being removed. Natural Life Magazine writer Wendy Priesnitz states that peat moss and peat bogs constitute a delicate balance to the natural habitat of the surrounding areas and the wildlife that reside there.