Air Quality

Backyard Burning

The Waste Management (Prohibition of Waste Disposal by Burning) Regulations 2009 came into effect on the 31st of July 2009. It states that disposal of rubbish by burning is illegal and makes one exemption for the disposal of green waste for the agricultural community as a last resort until 2014.

Why is burning waste household waste harmful to the environment?

There are several problems with burning waste no matter where it originated. Burning waste at low temperatures creates thick smoke, dust and particulate matter, all of which create a nuisance for your neighbours. However, the most worrying thing about this practice is that it creates a cloud of toxic smoke and dust that includes dioxins, furans, green house gasses and heavy metals. These gasses and chemicals are a hazard to human health and the environment.

But it's only a fire, how much harm is it really doing?

Together with your neighbour, and their neighbour, and everyone else who is burning waste, you are adding to the 73% of dioxins found in the air that comes from backyard burning. In 2006, the EPA reported an estimated 205,000 tonnes of uncollected household waste in Ireland; did this go up in smoke?

What are Dioxins and Furans?

Dioxins are a group of 210 long - lived chemicals; furans are very similar to dioxins. Once released, dioxins enter our air, soil, water and food, remaining there for many years. Importantly, dioxins are stored in animal fat and so stay in the food chain. The higher an animal is on the food chain. For this reason the European Union classifies them as Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).
Dioxins are known to affect human health in several serious ways including
Affecting the development growth of the foetus and infants
Affecting the development of the nervous system
Altering immune, endocrine and reproductive function

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