Leaf Burning, Smoke Control

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Leaf Burning, Smoke Control

Postby Wilberforce » Tue Apr 03, 2012 9:28 pm

Letter from Mark Mussmann
Monday, 02 April 2012 20:57

To whom it may concern:

My name is Mark Mussmann. I have been a resident of Morrison, IL, since December 2007. Growing up, my family often passed through, camped near, and visited friends in the town of Morrison. I always admired the town's ability to maintain freshness while retaining the historic nature of the area. In fact, that was one of the reasons that my wife and I relocated to the area with our family. We wanted our children to be able to grow up in the school district and enjoy the area attractions and local parks. Since moving here, my family has developed a great appreciation for the area.

One thing that does alarm me is the burning of leaves in my neighborhood and town. I cannot count the number of times that I have wanted to air out my house and open some windows on a spring day or unusually warm fall day, only to have my plans terminated by smoke from nearby leaf-burning. It is not only a nuisance, but it is also an imminent health-risk.

I am concerned about the long-term effects on the residents and our City. Many people do not know or choose to not take into account the potential hazards of leaf burning. I know an individual who is an employee of a waste management agency in a nearby community. As a result of the position they hold, they are an avid campaigner for "greener" methods for disposal of all materials. This person has also done an extensive amount of research on the health risks related to leaf burning, which [was] shared with me. I would like to have the opportunity to share this information with you.

There are several toxic elements in the smoke that is generated by leaf-burning. The most common element is carbon-monoxide. It is an invisible gas formed by the combustion of burning material. Essentially, when inhaled, it causes deficiencies in the body's ability to carry oxygen in red blood cells. Some would say this ingredient is present even in a fire that a person might have in a fire-pit in their backyard. This would be true. However, the forms and levels which are found in leaf smoke are concentrated and much more dangerous.

Many times, a portion of the leaf piles are still damp, causing more smoke and a slower burn. If burning in an area secluded by trees, homes, or buildings, the results can be disorientation, carbon-monoxide poisoning, asphyxia, and death. All these health risks are greatly increased with infants, children, and the elderly. Factor in multiple, large-quantity burns associated with designated burn days, and the effects are amplified even further.

The primary component is particle matter. As leaves burn, they create this matter that, if inhaled, settles into the deepest areas of the lungs. These particles remain there and, over time, drastically reduce lung capacity. The risks associated with this are respiratory infection and breathing issues like asthma, which can be instantly triggered by this particle matter.

The smoke also contains hydrocarbons. This is present in leaf smoke in a solid and gas form. It can contain aldehydes and ketones. Aldehydes and ketones are widely used industrial chemicals. Their primary uses are as solvents and as chemical intermediates (ingredients for other chemicals.) In either form, they can be classified as volatile organic compounds, meaning that their vapors may be easily inhaled or ignited. These elements cause irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. There are also carcinogens like polynuclear aromatic carcinogens.

Benzo(a)pyrene is another harmful component of smoke generated by leaf-burning. Exposure to this chemical has both short-term and long-term effects. The short-term effects include skin rash and eye irritation coupled with redness and/or a burning sensation. If sunlight is present during exposure, it can also cause an enhanced effect. This is something to factor as many people burn on sunny days. The long-term consequences can eventually be fatal. As it is a carcinogen, Benzo[a]pyrene causes skin, lung, and bladder cancer. If it is present on your skin when exposed to ultraviolet rays (similar to those of the sun) the risk of skin cancer increases. Other changes on the skin include pimples, loss of color or red areas, and thickening/darkening of the skin. Bronchitis may also result from repeated exposure to mixtures containing benzo(a)pyrene. http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dph/files/ ... enefaq.pdf

I also urge people to take [this] into consideration...[I]f the cons of leaf-burning are not serious enough to consider, then why are so many cities, counties, and states making it illegal or "against ordinance" to burn leaves? For example, in Wisconsin, they have addressed this as part of the State's air management control policies:

"Open burning IS NOT an environmentally sound way to dispose of leaves and plant clippings at your home. State law currently allows people to burn small amounts of dry leaves and brush on their own property, so long as leaf burning is not prohibited by local ordinances. However, you should try to avoid burning leaves whenever possible.

The smoke generated by a large number of simultaneous leaf fires can cause significant health problems. Leaf smoke can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat of healthy adults. But it can be much more harmful to small children, the elderly, and people with asthma or other lung or heart diseases. This is because the visible smoke from leaf fires is made up almost entirely of tiny particles that can reach deep into lung tissue and cause symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest pain, and shortness of breath--symptoms that might not occur until several days after exposure to large amounts of leaf smoke.
Besides being an irritant, leaf smoke contains many hazardous chemicals, including carbon monoxide and benzo(a)pyrene. Carbon monoxide binds with hemoglobin in the bloodstream and thus reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood and lungs. So carbon monoxide can be very dangerous for young children with immature lungs, smokers, the elderly, and people with chronic heart or lung diseases.

Benzo(a)pyrene is known to cause cancer in animals and is believed to be a major factor in lung cancer caused by cigarette smoke. It is found in cigarette smoke and coal tar, as well as leaf smoke.

According to U. S. Environmental Protection Agency studies, sometimes concentrations of air pollutants resulting from leaf burning can be so high that the air does not meet Federal health standards. In fact, in some areas burning of leaves and brush sometimes causes much higher levels of air pollution than all other forms of air pollution combined (such as factories, vehicles, and lawn and garden equipment.)

Leaf burning can also reduce visibility, create safety hazards, cause a nuisance, soil buildings and other property, and create additional demands on local police and fire protection." http://dnr.wi.gov/air/aq/burning/LEAVES.HTM

In addition to the health risks, leaf burning increases the chances of a neglected fire getting out of hand and spreading to nearby houses, buildings, land, or pastures. I doubt that many people would state that any property loss, or even loss of life, is hardly worth disposing of a pile of leaves. Despite the harmful elements in leaf smoke, the Environmental Protection Agency also mentions the subsequent "health, financial, and environmental costs. These costs include:

(1) higher incidences of health problems and increased health care costs
(2) higher incidences of home and forest fires and associated property loss and need for increased fire protection
(3) the clean-up costs associated with soiling of personal property.

I know that there have been multiple occasions that I have been driving around town and seen unattended piles of burning leaves. http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/burn/leafburn2.html

Many people may argue, "Well…what are we supposed to do with these leaves, then?" Many cities and towns, like ours, have enacted disposal programs to assist residents with disposing of leaves and yard waste. These programs are handy for people who cannot dispose of these materials, because they may be injured, elderly, or disabled. These are also an additional financial concern for residents and the cities. There are also costs related to healthcare and insurance matters, when we look at the risk of health risks and property damaged caused by leaf burning. There are much better, environmentally positive methods of disposing of these leaves.

Residents can mulch this material. I do this in my own yard. It takes just as much time to rake the leaves into burn piles and monitor the burning piles, as it does to mulch them with a rider or push mower. Leaves can be used in a compost pile or bin. Shredding them or mulching them beforehand drastically reduces the amount of volume.

Every year, my church has a Fall and Spring clean-up day. I am proud to say that we do not burn any of these leaves. The leaves are gathered and loaded into a trailer. They are then hauled to a local, privately-owned farm or wooded area. They are then dumped and used for natural "fertilizer."

As you can see, I strongly oppose leaf-burning in our wonderful City. There are better solutions to this matter. They will take a little more time and effort on our part. What we have to ask ourselves is, will it be worth the extra work, in the long run?

Please consider these points during your decision in this matter. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Mark Mussmann
Morrison, IL, Resident

http://thecity1.com/all-current-year-ar ... smann.html


Smoke control bylaw’s intent is to raise awareness,
encourage responsible burning practices

Published: April 03, 2012 2:00 PM
Updated: April 03, 2012 2:30 PM

Basically the Smoke Control Bylaw was written in such a way that it is a bylaw to encourage responsible burning.

The previous board had a workshop and several meetings to develop the wording.

I don’t understand why a municipal or an area director would not want to adopt a smoke control bylaw.

It provides an easy means to encourage efficient burning practices and a means to protect the health of its citizens from wood smoke, especially those who are most vulnerable.

One poor burning wood stove can pollute many blocks where the particulate matter seeps into homes.

It has been known now for over 10 years the serious health impacts from wood smoke. Infants and children are most vulnerable, as is those with pre-existing heart and lung disease. But everyone is affected.

There are a number of tools now to help a resident heating with wood to burn efficiently, which means only a heat wave coming from their chimney. The bylaw can help provide that education to those who are not aware.

It is important that those living higher up from the valley bottom, such as in the Anarchist Mountain area, also be provided the education through this bylaw to burn efficiently, because when they don’t that pollution not only affects their family and neighbors but also affect those living on the valley bottom.

The RDOS Smoke Control Bylaw covers off all types of burning while municipalities in the RDOS region have no bylaws that encourage good burning practices with wood heating, with some municipalities allowing the burning of yard waste which smolders and smokes for days.

Some municipalities and rural areas have open air burning bylaws, with a nuisance clause that the fire department enforces.

It is expensive for a fire department to go out on calls to nuisance smoke related fires.

To save tax dollars and not tie up fire departments, the RDOS Smoke Control Bylaw is enforced by a bylaw officer, and the bylaw officer provides the education.

This bylaw is straight forward and easy to understand and covers off wood heating and open air burning and hopefully helps to eliminate garbage burning.

With every rural area and municipality adopting a smoke control bylaw, everyone benefits from the same level of protection.

The provincial Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation does not cover off back yard burning or wood heating.

The RDOS Smoke Control Bylaw is a great step towards keeping air clean, especially during the winter months when valley communities experience inversion conditions.

Contributed by Janice Johnson


Burning household waste in residential areas

Do you know the dangers from burning household waste in residential areas? Household waste contains plastics, metals, and synthetic

materials that create dangerous chemicals when burned. These chemicals include dioxins, benzene, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), and other compounds too.

People who are exposed to these air pollutants can have eye and nose irritation, breathing difficulties, coughing and headaches. People with heart disease, asthma, emphysema or other respiratory diseases are especially sensitive to air pollutants.

Trash and wood burning release some gases like aldehydes when these are burnt. It can cause strong irritation when it contacts the eyes, nose and throat. Irritation to the eyes due to smoke is only because of aldehyde and other organic gases.

The tiny particles in smoke can make things worse for heart conditions by preventing oxygen from reaching tissues. Difficulties in breathing such as asthma may increase in adults or children, if they breathe too much smoke. Other health problems caused by burning include lung infections such as acute pneumonia and bronchiolitis. Allergies can also be dangerous. Burning trash can cause other long-term health problems too.

The municipality should take some special measures to stop people from doing such things as it is dangerous for the health of people. Campaigns or awareness programmes can contribute a lot to reducing this problem.

Muhammad Anwar, via email

• 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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