Open burning not worth the risk

Environmentally Challenged: By Brian Troutman

This may come as a surprise to many of you reading this, but burning trash in a barrel is not a practice encouraged by DHEC.

Not only is there a risk of brush and forest fires being started due to open burning, but chemicals found in many products can be harmful to you and your neighbors if burned.

DHEC discourages open burning in all circumstances. In some situations, it's illegal and you can be fined a lot of money, even if it's your first violation.

According to DHEC, open burning releases unfiltered and untreated toxic pollutants and particles directly into the air at ground level, where they can be easily inhaled. It produces ash that can contain toxic metals such as mercury, lead, chromium and arsenic. This ash is often used in gardens, where vegetables can absorb and accumulate the toxic materials.

I mention the surprise above, because upon looking at DHEC's stance on open burning, I learned that open burning is only legal for the burning clean wood waste.

I have too many family members and friends that burn their trash or have burned their trash in the past to not be caught by surprise.

I share this with you today in hopes that it will raise your awareness of the issue. Just yesterday I drove down a road with at least three trash barrels ablaze... You, your children, pets and neighbors may be at risk of becoming exposed to toxic materials due to open burning.

DHEC suggests that instead of burning household garbage outside, disposing of it properly, recycling what can be recycled and composting what can be composted.