Burning Garbage Is Not the Answer

April 9, 1997

By Michael Jessen

There have been numerous reports of persons burning garbage in their backyards to avoid paying user fees for waste disposal.

This is not the way to respond to these fees. It is against the law and, perhaps more importantly, endangers human health.

The BC Waste Management Act specifically prohibits the burning of garbage in a 'burn barrel' in the backyard or in any domestic heating equipment.

Anyone found guilty of this offence is liable to a penalty not exceeding $1,000,000. The severity of this penalty is a reflection of the seriousness of the crime.

Backyard burners should be reported and stopped.

Smoke from backyard burning, whether garbage or wood waste, contains tiny particles (called fine particulates) and gases. These fine particulates are small enough to be breathed into the deepest reaches of your lungs. They are associated with all sorts of health problems -- from a runny nose and coughing, to bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, and even death.

The harmful gases in smoke -- such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, dioxins, furans, benzo-a-pyrene, phenanthrene and acrolein -- can trigger respiratory illnesses, angina, headaches and eye irritation. Some are known to cause cancer.

A 1995 BC Environment study prepared by Dr. Sverre Vedal of the University of BC's Department of Medicine conservatively estimates that each year in our province fine particulate pollution causes 82 deaths, 146 hospitalizations and 354 emergency room visits.

Please, DON'T BURN!

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