The Fire Health Hazards of Burning Plastic


Burning your plastic domestic waste may seem like an easy way to dispose of old soda bottles and food containers, but this practice is hazardous to the environment and to your health. When possible, recycle plastics locally or return plastics to the producer for recycling and select reusable products such as glass containers.

Health Hazards

  • When plastics are burned, dangerous emissions such as dioxins are released into the air. Dioxins are toxic to human organs and can easily be inhaled or digested as they attach themselves to growing crops and contaminate local waterways. Current research by the Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) also indicates that burning plastic can increase your risk of heart disease, damage the nervous system, damage the function of the kidney and liver, aggravate respiratory diseases like asthma, damage the reproductive system and cause physical symptoms like rashes, nausea and headaches. Additionally, the vapors released during the burning process can damage the eyes and effect the central nervous system.

Fire Hazards

  • Many plastics are highly flammable and a large fire may quickly get out of hand and spread without warning.

Environmental Hazards

  • The pollutants released from burning plastic enter the air and later deposit themselves on nearby land and water. This effects food quality but also increases the risk of consuming these hazardous materials for humans and wildlife. Many of these pollutants also have a toxic effect, killing or damaging any living organism it comes in contact with.

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