Empty Your Compost!  
from New Scientist/Between the Issues
reprinted UPdate Fall 2001

Empty your inside compost containers frequently. Researchers in the Netherlands found that compost bins containing all organic waste (banana skins, vegetable peels, meat scraps etc) release far higher numbers of potentially harmful bacteria and moulds than those containing mixed garbage.  Among the organisms identified were ones known to aggravate common respiratory ailments such as asthma.  
In houses where organic bins regularly remained unemptied for a week or more, levels of bacterial cell fragments known as endotoxins were three times higher than in homes with unseparated compost.  In homes which also had carpeted floors, the concentrations of microbial agents rose to levels 25 to 840 times higher than in homes with neither risk factor. 
But the GOOD news is, researchers found that this risk can easily be minimized by emptying compost containers into outside bins every day or two, keeping the inside compost bin clean and, especially in homes with carpets, vacuuming frequently. 


Ed. Note: Lining the bin with a paper bag or piece of newspaper makes cleaning easier.  A two litre ice cream container with a tight fitting lid makes a good compost container. It's sealed when not in use, and can be discarded when it gets grungy.