Why Burning Yard Waste Is Bad

The dangers of backyard fire pits - news and op/ed

Why Burning Yard Waste Is Bad

Postby Wilberforce » Fri Nov 27, 2015 2:16 pm

Out-of-control burning can lead to wildfires.

Why Burning Yard Waste Is Bad
by M.H. Dyer

Burning yard waste such as leaves, grass and twigs is a bad idea for many reasons, as the smoke poses a threat to human health and the environment, and often results in dangerous wildfires. Although many municipalities allow burning in certain conditions, others ban burning of yard waste completely. Composting is a better option, as it returns helpful nutrients to the soil.

Air Pollution
Burning yard waste releases a number of harmful substances that affect human health, including carbon monoxide, dioxins, ozone-forming chemicals, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter. The Washington State Department of Ecology notes that smoke from burning yard waste can be just as harmful as cigarette smoke. Even more chemicals are released when burning yard waste is damp, as the waste burns slowly. Some people experience asthma attacks or other respiratory issues as a result of exposure to the smoke, which is particularly harmful for the elderly, the young, and people with conditions such as emphysema or bronchitis. In some cases, toxins remain in the human body for many years.

Soil and Water Pollution
Smoke rises and rainfall cleanses the air, washing smoke particles onto the ground where they are eventually filtered through the soil and into the water supply. The water enters rivers, lakes and wetlands, where it creates an unhealthy habitat for fish and other aquatic life. Hydrocarbons and other pollutants often foster the growth of green algae, which chokes out other marine life. In areas with porous soil, polluted water may affect the drinking water and the food supply.

Wildfire Danger
Burning yard waste creates a risk of dangerous home and forest fires, as yard fires get out of control quickly and are difficult to contain, especially on a breezy day. Fire danger is increased during late spring, when dead, dry foliage remains on the ground from winter, and in summer when grass and weeds are dry and brittle. The cost of suppressing uncontrolled fires is high for local government, fire districts and homeowners.

Composting is an effective, environmentally safe way to recycle yard waste, and the compost is used to improve lawns, vegetable gardens and flower beds, or it is applied as a mulch around shrubs and trees. Generally, compost consists of not only yard waste, but kitchen waste such as egg shells, coffee grounds and vegetable peelings. Many communities offer composting programs, including convenient curbside collection bins or drop-off programs. Yard waste such as twigs and leaves can be chopped up with a lawnmower and used as mulch on lawn or around shrubs and trees. For larger branches, chippers are available for rent.

References (6)
About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.
Photo Credits

Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/burning-ya ... 53052.html

http://www.pearltrees.com/ofer2/burning ... id15077524
• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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