Bad smell from a fire? Bad for you too!
[Letter to the editor]
Rustenburg – How often do we shake our heads and wonder how a seemingly healthy and energetic person became ill with cancer? One of the causes of cancer is from the air we breathe. When we make an open-air fire in a waste pit to burn domestic waste, we also burn plastic. Incineration of plastic waste in open areas is a major source of air pollution, which is harmful to human and animal health, as well as to vegetation.
Domestic low-temperature fires release toxic gasses like dioxins, furans, mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (better known as BCPs) into the air which are cancer-causing. Besides aerosol contamination, dioxins settle on crops and in our waterways where they eventually enter our food and get ingested into our bodies. These dioxins are potentially lethal persistent organic pollutants that can cause cancer and disrupt endocrine and respiratory systems.
Plastic chemical emissions are associated with a myriad of other health problems – they can aggravate respiratory ailments such as asthma and emphysema and cause rashes, nausea or headaches and allergies. They can also increase the risk of heart disease and impact the nervous system and even fertility.
In countries where domestic waste is incinerated to produce energy, it is done at very high temperatures and the smoke that is released is done so through chimneys that have scrubbers on them to capture the carcinogens.
Burning plastic also releases black carbon (soot), which contributes to climate change and air pollution, but studies have shown as much as 40% of the world’s garbage is burnt.
The open fires bylaw amended October 2017 by the Rustenburg Local Municipality council, as well as the Rustenburg Local Municipality air pollution bylaw, all indicates that burning domestic waste is illegal. For the sake of your health please bring this danger to the attention of people who still make use of open-air burns.
Concerned community member
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