Residents across Barbados are urged to avoid burning rubbish, and to consider alternative ways of disposing of their clippings, trimmings, grass, leaves and other forms of household waste.
Chief Fire Officer, Errol Maynard, has suggested that persons should consider chipping, composting, mulching, and reducing, reusing and recycling their waste as possible alternatives.
“Taking a match or naked flame to your yard waste may seem like an easy and efficient way to dispose of your clippings, trimmings, grass, leaves and household waste, but burning yard waste is illegal and unhealthy,” Mr. Maynard warned.
He reminded residents that they were now required to obtain a permit before burning waste under the Fire Service Fee Order, which took effect on April 1.
However, Mr. Maynard encouraged persons to consider using a chipper or shredder to convert branches and yard waste into useful mulch or compost pile.
He added that those who wanted to consider composting could convert dead leaves and grass clippings into healthy food for their plants and yard rather than polluting the air.
“Composting is a convenient and affordable way to manage yard waste. Compost also supports soil organisms and decomposed organic compounds, including manure, plant residue, and pesticides, preventing them from entering water and becoming pollutants,” he pointed out.
The Fire Chief further advised that persons should start the process of mulching their leaves and twigs by cutting with a lawnmower to return nutrients to the grass.
Another alternative put forward by the Fire Chief was putting garbage out for collection by the Sanitation Service Authority, or separating recyclables from the garbage and taking them to one of the recycling centres.
Mr. Maynard urged persons to consider these alternatives as open burning releases harmful chemicals into the atmosphere that could affect human health and the environment.
“The type of pollutants being emitted depends on what is being burned. Smoke from burning vegetation and organic materials contains toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, other greenhouse gases, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, and particulate matter that is small enough to enter the lungs and affect the respiratory system,” he explained.
He added that depending on what was being burnt, smoke from open burning could irritate the eyes, nose, and throat; cause rashes, nausea and headaches; damage the lungs and contribute to breathing difficulties; cause or aggravate respiratory ailments such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema; or cause serious diseases such as cancer.
“People with existing health conditions, the elderly and young children, are especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of smoke,” he warned.