The Tire Dump Issue: Burning Tires Release Dangerous Toxins

Tire Burning in Utah

Tire Burning in UtahStatistics show that Americans generate as much as 250 million scrap tires in a year. The overwhelming number of discarded tires poses a unique disposal challenge because they’re heavy, bulky, and made from a variety of materials, some of which are toxic. This makes some people resort to easy methods for tire disposal, such as burning.

Although burning tires may be a lot easier than hauling it to the local disposal site, do the pros really outweigh the cons?

The Dangers of Tire-Burning

Tire-burning should be avoided as much as possible. It can have a severe impact on public health and the welfare of the environment because of the dangerous toxins the practice produces, such as:

  • Dioxins – Dioxins can harm the immune system, disrupt hormone production, and affect the health of babies and children. The World Health Organization has classified dioxins as the worst known cancer causing agent. Furthermore, dioxins can end up in food supplies where they accumulate in the body and lead to health complications later on.
  • Particulates – Dangerous particles that are too small can end up directly in a person’s lungs. Breathing in particulates released from a burning tire could have long-term health hazards, including skin irritation, respiratory disease, depression, and cancer.
  • Heavy metals and mercury – Combusted-tire ash contains a high amount of heavy metals, including mercury. When mercury ends up in the ocean, it could easily contaminate aquatic wildlife and, consequently, the mammals and humans who eat them.

What’s the Solution?

According to Western Tire Recyclers, there are several ways to diminish used, stockpiled tires without posing a threat to human health or the environment. The best option is to take them to a local recycling facility — old tires can still be useful, after all. In fact, rubber from old tires can replace 10% of the rubber used in new ones. Scrap tires can also be used a playground equipment, or to help pave roads.

Getting rid of scrap tires shouldn’t come at the expense of public health or the environment. Recycling is a better alternative because it saves resources and helps the environment too.