Don't Trash Our Air
Burning Trash Causes Pollution and Health Risks
Burning household trash, whether in an open pit, burn barrel or a wood stove, is illegal, unhealthy, unneighborly and unnecessary. It causes:
- serious health concerns and diseases,
- contaminated soil; and
- interference with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property.
What's Wrong with Burn Barrels?
Burn barrels smolder and temperatures rarely exceed 500 degrees Fahrenheit, which causes incomplete combustion and releases greater amounts of harmful chemicals into the air. Permitted incinerators operate at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit to insure complete combustion, and they use efficient filters to reduce harmful emissions.
What's in the Smoke*?
Here are some of the air pollutants emitted by commonly burned materials and their potential health risks:
|If you burn...||it creates...||which may cause...|
Plastics, paper, pesticide containers,
|Dioxins and furans||immune suppressions, hormone system disruption, cancer|
|Plastics, petroleum products, styrofoam||Benzene||leukemia|
|Plastics, petroleum products||Formaldehyde||eye, nose and throat irritation, difficulty in breathing, skin rashes, cancer|
|Leaves||Particulate matter||respiratory problems, cardiac arrhythmia, heart attacks|
|Plastics, pesticide containers,
|Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons||cancer|
|Plastic||Hydrogen chloride||corrosion to the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes, respiratory tract irritation and chronic bronchitis|
|Plastic, synthetic fibers||Hydrogen cyanide||neurological, respiratory, cardiovascular, and thyroid disorders|
|Leaves||Carbon monoxide||reduction in the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood|
|Treated wood||Lead||heart and kidney disease, brain damage, reduced fertility,
|Batteries, treated wood||Cadmium||lung damage, kidney disease|
|Treated wood||Arsenic||gastrointestinal problems, anemia, kidney and liver disease, cancer|
|Batteries, treated wood||Mercury||nervous system and kidney damage|
|Batteries||Chromium||respiratory effects, cancer|
* This is not a complete list of toxins.
Who is at Risk?
Everyone. People, pets, and wildlife who are exposed to smoke, especially those with heart and lung conditions, experience a variety of symptoms, including:
- burning eyes and nose
- asthma attacks
The smoke from fires can also deposit chemicals on lawns, gardens, and soil, which exposes people to those chemicals by eating the fruit and vegetables grown near the trash fire or in garden soil tilled with the toxic ashes. Young children may be at greater risk than adults because of their playing behaviors, small size, and developing bodies.
Visit the Green Living page for tips on how you can make a positive impact on New York's environment.