“Burners” Are At Greater Health Risk When They Use Their Own Burn Barrel

University of Wisconsin Extension Center for Environment and Energy has an informative publication on burn barrels. From the number of  barrels still in use throughout the county, it’s time again to revisit the effect illegal burning has on human health and the environment.

One paragraph from the publication is especially important for those who use a burn barrel to read: “Health risks from burning trash include emphysema, asthma, birth defects and cancer. These risks are highest for people closest to the fire – the people who burn trash and their families. And, once these chemicals find their way into our fields and streams, they can also find their way into our food supply.”

To save a few dollars in garbage pickup, “burners” seem willing to pay a higher price by risking their own health and the health of their children.

The entire publication is provided at this link: www4.uwm.edu//shwec/publications/cabinet/pdf/burnbarrelprint.pdf



Filed under General Information

5 responses to ““Burners” Are At Greater Health Risk When They Use Their Own Burn Barrel

  1. Meg

    The Wall Street Journal reported a few weeks back that trash burning is the #1 source for dioxins ending up in our food chain. If you think that trash burning doesn’t really affect Kewaunee and its residents–think again. Our landfill is currently a failing enterprise. Why? Because all of its revenue is going up in smoke! County board members are finally engaging in dialogue about this issue and the serious implications it could have on Kewaunee County and its citizens.


  2. Mike

    I think the dangers of open burning are exaggerated by the politicians and the solid waste companies that give them campaign dollars. It’s a convenient lie.

    Blame the farm burn barrel, not the big coal plant, pumping billions of tons of toxic substances into the air. A coal plant burns massive amounts of toxic coal, a burn barrel burns a tiny amount of plastic and paper garbage.

    And yes, we do burn here. But we have land and no neighbors nearby. Everybody on my street burns. And there has bee no harm what so ever.


    • Your neighbors

      The EPA using verifiable research from non profits who are not aligned with politicians or big monied corporations clearly identify burn barrels used by millions of people in the U.S. to be the single biggest source of dioxin in our food, water, soil and air. Coal burning utilities do burn coal which does contain mercury and sulfides but not dioxins, and this is being addressed by the EPA in the near future. Systems are available that will remove the mercury and sulfides. Burn barrels have no oversight whatsoever in Kewaunee County.

      Research dioxin so you understand what is being put into the environment for your family and your neighbors down wind. Then if you still insist on using burn barrels, do it with a conscience knowing you are contributing to asthma, cancer, emphysema and other potentially life-ending ailments for your family and neighbors.


  3. Darlene D.

    In the 1970’s a nationwide campaign took place to address littering. Roadside littering was especially bad. I remember clearly our family cleaning out the station wagon by throwing the trash out the windows as we drove along. Behavior like this was commonplace. What were we thinking? Remember the ad with the Indian crying about how polluted everything was? The “Give A Hoot, Don’t Pollute” campaign…”Don’t be a litterbug”? These were all responses to our need to address pollution. Hopefully we will also address the air pollution from the outdated tradition of burning trash, and again, look back and say “What were we thinking?”. While one may not think this is a deadly, toxic behavior –times your burn barrel by thousands in our county. I am tired of breathing in your trash, rewashing laundry that has been ruined, and closing windows on a beautiful summer night. The effects of your burning does leave the vicinity of your own back yard. Please dispose of your trash at the landfill, garbage pick-up, recycling, reuse, or composting. Kewaunee County has both a landfill and compost site…Use it!


    • Your comment reminds us that people have been working on the pollution problem since the 70s. The “guilt” message worked for a little while, but unfortunately people are still throwing stuff out of cars, into streams and into the air. Politicians like to pretend they’re driven by good ol’ American values. Let’s hope someday they look back on what they’ve done to environmental protection laws and say, “What were we thinking?”.


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