Letter to the Editor 7.16.2015

Dear Editor:

I find myself wishing I could make folks in Ava and surrounding areas aware that when they so casually burn plastic waste they are destroying the quality of life in this relatively unpolluted part of the Ozarks. I wish they would read about how the whole town of Times Beach (near St. Louis) had to be permanently evacuated due to contamination with dioxin and PCBs –– two of the most dangerous chemicals ever created. These chemicals are produced when plastic and other synthetics are burned.

Current research indicates that backyard-burning of waste is far more harmful to health than previously thought. It increases the risk of heart disease, aggravates respiratory ailments like asthma and emphysema, causes rashes, nausea and headaches, damages the nervous system, kidneys, liver and reproductive system.

The burning of polystyrene polymers such as foam cups, meat trays, egg containers, and the like (anything made of styrofoam) releases styrene gas which is readily absorbed through the skin and lungs. It damages the eyes and mucous membranes and affects the central nervous system causing headaches, fatigue, weakness and depression.

The ill effects are not only for the people burning the trash but also their neighbors, children and families as well as their pets and local wildlife. Every garden in town absorbs the poison, too.

For someone like me who suffers from MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity), neighbors burning plastic and styrofoam quickly brings on severe discomfort. The odor seeps into a house no matter how tightly one closes it up. What these folks don’t realize is that an MCS victim is like “a canary in the coal mine.” Just because one may not feel bad immediately doesn’t mean they will escape the effects of the bio-accumulating toxins they so carelessly release.

Apparently some people have no idea why some of us literally cannot stand being forced to inhale and ingest the toxic particles. So please, when you smell these toxic fires around you, inform your neighbors why they could be sending nearby MCS victims or their neighbor’s asthmatic child to a hospital, and beg them to stop. Wouldn’t that be, after all, the Christian thing to do?

Pat Davis

Ava, Mo.