Sunday, July 17, 2011

Burning trash

Photo credit Joelk75
I usually love living outside of the city where the houses are spread apart and everyone has a little space to themselves. However, within this little bit of space inhabitants seem to think they are islands; separated from the world around them, immune to the laws of society. So when it comes to waste removal, why not save a few dollars and burn it? "It just disappears into the air, ain't no harm done" (In my best redneck tone). Maybe that was the way of thinking 50 years ago when burn barrels were common and children roasting marshmallows over them didn't bring concerns of brain damage and asbestos and lead paint were just part of everyday living. But this isn't that time. And I have no idea why people think it's still ok to burn their trash in a primitive barrel right in their back yard.
Burn barrels are often a source of conflict between neighbors; which "right" is more important: allowing people to burn household refuse or guaranteeing that everyone can open their windows without noxious smoke and odors getting into their homes?
http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10366_46403_46404-248168--,00.html
Nothing gets me more pissed than when I'm outside enjoying a nice warm evening in the garden and the smell of hot plastic and burning trash lingers through my yard and sticks in my nose. I'm not the kind of neighbor to call the police either; I really try to stay on the good side of my neighbors since I do have to share a street with them for at least a few more years, and I don't need a crazed burning plastic chemical induced episode where one of them kills my dog for barking at 5:30am or some other complaint they have been waiting to spring on me.

What is a girl supposed to do? I have a daughter and I'm pregnant with #2 and do not want to breathe in these noxious chemicals on a weekly basis.
Simply put, burning trash is not a good idea. It allows the release of environmental contaminants such as hydrogen cyanide, benzene, lead, mercury, dioxin and carbon dioxide into the environment.
http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10366_46403_46404-248168--,00.html
I'd like to give my neighbors the benefit of the doubt and assume they are just not educated on the dangers of burning garbage; a tradition that was likely passed down from other generations before them. We really are grateful to have decent neighbors, other than the whole 'releasing deadly carcinogens into the air on a weekly basis' thing. Plan A will be to pass out the following brochure into their mailboxes anonymously (unless they know I have this blog. Not so anonymous now.) I hope after reading the brochure they will understand the dangers not only for themselves and their own families, but also the dangers that it brings to nearby neighbors who have to breathe in their burning trash fumes with little to no choice. Plan B? A super soaker? I'm not sure. Michigan, one of a handful of states that still allows unrestricted burning of trash, was supposed to enact a law as of April 2011 that would restrict this, but for whatever reason it was suspended. So I'm not sure I would even have the law on my side should I consider calling authority.
UPDATE - On 3/21/11 the DEQ suspended this proposed rule package pending further review. This means that the proposed changes will not take effect April 1, 2011. Additional information about pending changes to the open burning rules will be posted at this web site as the DEQ continues to work with stakeholders to address this issue.
http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3310_4148_55793-218708--,00.html
Crazy to think I have no rights when it comes to the quality of air on my own property. I'm not sure what the hold up is either, the DEQ explicitly states: "Open burning pollutes the air and poses a fire hazard. The air pollution created by open burning can irritate eyes and lungs, obscure visibility, soil nearby surfaces, create annoying odors, and is a danger to those with respiratory conditions." Yet no law is in place to prevent this.

Brochure I'm handing out:
http://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/deq-aqd-bhw_273494_7.pdf


Another Brochure from the EPA:
http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/backyard/pubs/residents.pdf


Interesting piece from Michigan.gov about burn barrels:
http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10366_46403_46404-248168--,00.html 


DEQ's stance on open burning:
http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3310_4148_55793---,00.html


What can we do to get this law in place and spread information about the danger's that backyard burn barrels impose? 

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