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Wise move to ban burning of yard waste

We were very pleased to hear that the Bloomfield Hills City Commission recently approved a policy to prohibit the outside burning of leaves, waste and refuse, putting them in line with a majority of its neighboring municipalities.

Director of Public Safety Chief Noel Clason noted it had been an option in the pastoral community since it was established in 1932 – and that it had been a subject of debate since at least 1956. Now, with recycling and composting available for all residents by GFL, the city's waste disposal provider which can pick up refuse and yard waste every week, it's a no-brainer. Especially since burning yard waste is a huge environmental hazard.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), backyard burning practices can produce various compounds toxic to the environment, including nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide and particle pollution. Nitrogen oxide is a cause of acid rain; VOCs and the compounds they form in the atmosphere, such as ozone, contribute to the formation of smog; carbon monoxide reacts with sunlight to create harmful ozone, can significantly impact harmful ambient air quality and the ability to meet air quality standards. Burning garbage, according to the EPA., can produce more carbon dioxide than decomposition in a landfill, and carbon dioxide is also a significant greenhouse gas.

All of that makes for difficulty breathing, whether for those with asthma, COPD or other lung issues, older residents and children undergoing development – or the rest of us. Especially since in 2019, there were 80 burn pit permits issued; in 2020, 60 burn pit permits issued; in 2021, 54 burn pit permits issued; and so far in 2022, 13 burn pit permits issued.

The good news is for Bloomfield Hills residents, fire pits are welcome on residential properties, just as they are in Birmingham and Bloomfield Township.

Birmingham, Bloomfield Township, Troy and Royal Oak do not allow any form of waste burning by residents, and none allow any large bonfires. As Birmingham Fire Chief Pete Wells said, “We don't allow any leaves, grass, branches or trash to be burned. It's a nuisance, they can smolder, and they're bad for the environment.”

Small residential fire pits are permitted in all of the communities, ideal if you're looking to warm up on a cool evening or want to toast a s'more.

We're glad Bloomfield Hills is catching up. Because while some may think it's only on their property, when it comes to the air we breathe and the water we drink, we all know the reach affects us all.


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