Week 6 - Blog

No Burning Waste

No Burning Waste Toxic fumes can damage our health

Burning waste is not only an environmental nuisance to your neighbours, but it can also have a serious negative health impact. Burning certain types of waste can release toxic fumes into the air, and these chemicals, when they cool, will settle once again on the land in your community, effecting the crops we eat and the air we breathe. Check out our latest blog post to find out what the health dangers of burning waste are.

This can include various forms of cancer, as well as interfering with our children’s growth and development, and damaging our immune system.

Burning some kinds of waste is more damaging to our health than others. For example, burning untreated timber won’t have the same effect as burning timber that has been treated with paint, varnish or other wood preservatives.

In Sligo we have a problem with people who burn not only waste like this, but who also add to the problem by throwing dangerous, toxic, highly flammable items on illegal bonfires. Why people feel that it’s ok not only to put at risk the health of anyone in the immediate vicinity of a bonfire like this is anyone’s guess, not to mention the longer term harm it can have on your neighbours and the environment you live in.

The toxic chemicals used to treat many items that are illegally burnt like treated timbers, tyres and plastics are known as dioxins. These are released into the air during the burning process, but as they cool, they once again return to the ground. In rural areas, this can mean that cattle and sheep that graze in fields near a burn site can ingest these chemicals, which, in turn, will end up back in the human food chain.

Many people in communities around Sligo and further afield are continually frustrated by people – usually a small percentage – who continue to ignore the health of the common good by acting in this way. In the past few weeks as we filmed a short viral video on this topic, we were approached by several people who voiced their concerns about the burning that goes on in their estates and communities, often by people who don’t even reside in these areas.

We need to stop this practice – if you see an illegal fire, or if you witness thick black smoke bellowing from a householders chimney, you should contact the emergency services, and if you see evidence of a burn site, contact the environmental team at Sligo County Council. Details on how to do this, as well as a wealth of information on the dangers of burning, and on the limited exceptions where burning of waste like foliage and untreated timber is allowed, are available on our website www.sligococo.ie/greenaware.