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Burning trees could be unhealthy

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After last year's holiday season there was a huge bonfire, far into the rear of a Christmas tree farm in Elk Creek.
The plumes of smoke fell over miles of acreage. I observed this activity for days, making no mistake of the scent of pine burning.
Environmental Protection Agency Law prohibits burning of Christmas trees and tree parts, which are a hazardous environmental pollutant. The law is listed on the Federal Register No.1XC 04‑15448.
The root systems and foliage of trees absorb pesticides and herbicides used at the farms.
By burning, dioxin is released into the air. There is no defense against its toxicity. Flyash can be carried hundreds of miles, settling on people, animals, water, crops, acreage. The tiniest amount is indestructible.
Many folks are now using artificial trees and foliage or buying organic trees. Organic trees are being shipped all over the country from farms as close to us as Tennessee and North Carolina.
Report any burning, health problems such as breathing the vapor reactions, skin issues, allergic reactions to the Environmental Protection Agency, listed in the phone book.
Protect your health and the land of our future.
Rev. Theresa Rogers
Elk Creek

Editor's note: According to the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Media Relations, the EPA does not have the Christmas tree burning restrictions that the letter writer refers to, nor does it consider burning the trees a “hazardous pollutant.” However, some states have such laws and local governments often have ordinances about what you can burn and where. Kevin Spurlin, agriculture and natural resources educator for Grayson County, said there are no laws specifically prohibiting the burning of Christmas trees. “The only laws that may fit this scenario are the 4 p.m. open air burn law that the Virginia Department of Forestry enforces from Feb. 15 to April 30 and again from Oct. 15 to Nov. 30, due to wildfire risk.” Localities may have open air burn laws as well, but Spurlin said most deal with “open-air burning where the smoke would cause a nuisance or where there is danger of wildfires” — not because of any risk of releasing chemicals. “There are few other burning regulations for agricultural or open lands.” Still, the EPA recommends more beneficial uses for old Christmas trees than burning. More information on recycling Christmas trees can be found at www.epa.gov/wastes/inforesources/news/2003news/12-trees.htm