Smoke from residential burning is an uncontrolled source of air pollution. Smoke generated at ground level can affect those conducting the burn, their families and neighbors. Not only can smoke be a nuisance, it can affect your health.
Burning illegal materials exposes people to unhealthy air. Immediate health effects my include burning and itching eyes, shortness of breath and asthma attacks. Long-term effects may include respiratory disease, lung damage, cancer and premature death.
In 1997 an U.S. EPA study characterized emissions from burn barrels. Based on this study consider the following statistics:
- The average person in California generates 900 pounds of waste material each year.
- There are approximately 523,000 people in the Mountain Counties Air Basin.
- 1/4 of the people in this area burn their waste material.
- 15 pounds of particulate matter would be emitted per person equaling 980 tons per year in the Mountain Counties Air Basin.
- 0.0034 pounds of volatile organic compounds would be emitted per person equaling 444 pounds per year in the Mountain Counties Air Basin. This includes toxic compounds such as benzene, styrene and toluene.
- 4.5 pounds of semi-volatile organic compounds would be emitted per person equaling 294 tons per year in the Mountain Counties Air Basin. This includes compounds such as phenol and naphthalene.
- Other pollutants emitted include chlorobenzenes, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, aldehydes and ketones, dioxins and furans, PCBs and metals.