Health warning over burning of plastic and tyres

Monday January 08, 2018 Written by Published in Health

People who burn tyres and plastic are causing a health hazard and could face prosecution, the Cook Islands Health ministry has warned.


The message comes after a spate of complaints about the practice in the press and on social media.

Several recent cases have been dealt with by the Public Health Department, but there are concerns the message is not getting though and people are still burning rubbish illegally.

The practice is not permitted under the 2004 Public Health Act and can be punished with a fine of up to $1,000 for occupiers of residential properties, and up to a $10,000 for businesses.

Although several warning letters have been issued, the health department has yet to take legal action over the issue. But that could be about to change.

“People found burning these items will be given a warning in the first instance. If they carry on burning plastic and tyres they will be referred for prosecution,” says the ministry.

“The message to the community is – do not burn plastics or tyres.

“The smoke coming from the burning of plastic and tyres is a health hazard and is a health threat to you, your family and your neighbours.”

The ministry advises people to store plastic waste at home and bring it to the roadside on rubbish collection days so it can be disposed of in the proper manner.

Community Health Services says anyone who wants to make a complaint about the burning of plastic and tyres, or any other unsafe waste management practices, should contact them on 29110.

The burning of plastic and other hazardous waste has been a problem on the island for many years, with residents making regular comments about it on social media. Health experts say that in terms of damage to health, inhaling smoke from a plastics fire can be the equivalent of smoking 300 cigarettes at once.

            - JH/CS

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