KINGSTON, Oct. 26 (JIS): The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is renewing its warning to Jamaicans, especially small farmers, not to engage in open burning.
Senior Public Education and Community Outreach Officer at NEPA, Ava Tomlinson, made the call at a Symposium, in Kingston, on October 26.
Open burning is a practice used by persons in the agricultural sector to clear land for farming (slash and burn) or by householders and communities, following clean-up exercises.
Miss Tomlinson noted that open burning has a negative impact on the environment, as all the chemicals, emissions and pollutants go directly into the environment. “That’s where NEPA has a concern,” she said.
“As a regulator, we do the monitoring of the emissions in the environment. We have specific pollutants which we monitor, including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and in terms of solids, particulate matter. When they get into the lung it’s very easy to have respiratory and other health issues,” she said.
The burning of plastics is also a major concern for NEPA, Miss Tomlinson pointed out.
“When you burn things, such as plastics, styrofoam in particular, there are chemicals, such as dioxins that are emitted. These can create health issues. So, some women might have problems bearing children, persons have problems with their thyroid or develop problems with their lungs; there is cancer and other illnesses. In addition, this can be a public nuisance, so we encourage persons not to burn,” she said.
Miss Tomlinson added that pollutants from open burning can get into the water systems; and that burning also affects the bird and bee populations. In fact, she said, fires impact biodiversity.
She is encouraging persons to engage in composting, and appropriate solid waste management.
The symposium was organised by the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB), as part of activities for Fire Safety Awareness Week, being observed from October 25 – 30.