Even if you're reading this early in the morning, your life probably has been touched in multiple ways today by the diatomaceous earth.
Your morning juice, your evening beer or wine or the honey you squeezed into your afternoon tea may have been filtered with diatomaceous earth (DE). The matte finish in the paint on your living room wall was created with diatomaceous earth.
Water in the swimming pool you enjoy almost certainly was filtered with diatomaceous earth.
The plastic bag you used at the grocery store for fruits and vegetables probably was manufactured with a dusting of diatomaceous earth that allowed you to overcome its natural stickiness and open it.
Farmers use diatomaceous earth in their fertilizer as an anti-clumping agent. As a bonus, the diatomaceous earth helps the fertilizer hold water once it's applied. Animal feeds, too, use diatomaceous earth as an anti-caking additive. DE is also a natural insecticide that kills bugs by drying out their exoskeletons.
The abundant deposits of diatomaceous earth that EP Minerals mines in central Nevada were created five to 20 million years ago, when Nevada was covered by prehistoric lakes. Diatoms - single-cell aquatic plants that were an important part of the food chain - left tiny silica skeletons behind them when they died. When the lakes dried, the deposits of diatoms were left behind.
Unlike most areas of the world in which deposits of diatoms were eroded away, the large and high-quality deposits in Nevada were protected under a cap of volcanic ash.
"Our products touch most everything on the planet that people use, and they just don't know about it," says Julie Brown, a spokeswoman for EP Minerals.