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Open burning dangerous for health

was delighted to see the front-page story written by Alyssa Schnugg in the Friday, Oct. 16 issue of the Oxford EAGLE.

Fire Chief Cary Sallis, and Mayor Pat Patterson, after receiving complaints from residents about the burning going on by contractors, have removed all city burn permits. I am in complete agreement with their decision, and what a difference that decision is going to make to the air quality.

What I do not understand is why massive burning by developers was ever allowed in the city in the first place, and why it is still allowed in the county. Why should one person be allowed to burn mountains of cut trees, as well as other building materials just so they can save some money? In doing so they are affecting the lives of everyone in the area. Even healthy people with normal lungs are not able to breathe or go outside when this burning is taking place, and for days afterwards as the smoke just settles over the area. In the Twelve Oaks subdivision burning has been going on for years.

This irresponsible burning poses a considerable health risk to anyone with asthma, emphysema or heart disease, but the exposure to this kind of smoke is not good for anyone. Then there is the matter of air pollution and air quality. Are there no agencies overseeing the air quality in Lafayette County?

On the Environmental Protection agency’s website leaders state the following information about backyard burning. Multiply this by about 100 times for the type of large scale burning the developers are engaging in.

“Most people who burn their waste do not realize how harmful this practice is to their health and to the environment. Current research indicates that backyard burning is far more harmful to our health than previously thought. It can increase the risk of heart disease; aggravate respiratory ailments such as asthma and emphysema, and cause rashes, nausea or headaches. Backyard burning also produces harmful quantities of dioxins, a group of highly toxic chemicals that settle on crops and in our waterways where they eventually wind up in our food and affect our health. Typically, dioxins do not exist in materials before they are incinerated, but are produced when waste is burned. Backyard burning is also particularly dangerous because it releases pollutants at ground level where they are more readily inhaled or incorporated into the food chain.”

This type of mass burning by contractors and developers should not be allowed anywhere, not in the city and not in the county.  People should not have to endure this kind of pollution.

Joanne Wilkinson

Oxford