Nature Foundation reiterates concern about landfill fires

POND ISLAND–Nature Foundation expressed deep concern on Thursday about the human health and environmental effects of the ongoing fires on the landfill. There have been constant fires at the landfill causing various districts to be covered and engulfed in toxic fumes for almost two weeks.

The Foundation has started to collect information from the districts on the health effects of the smoke associated with the landfill fires. Residents are called on to take the four-question survey at .
The latest fire is “more likely than not caused by spontaneous combustion as a result of decomposing material at the landfill, particularly different forms of garbage which is not separated and stored with flammable material,” stated the Foundation.
In previous studies in air quality and soil composition at the landfill, Nature Foundation had recorded positive results for nickel, zinc, arsenic, lead, cadmium, copper, chromium and other heavy metals. Of particular concern is arsenic, lead, cadmium, and copper because of the human health effects. Particularly lead, arsenic and copper can be quite toxic to humans and have been shown to cause some forms of cancer.
According to the US National Institutes of Health the main threats to human health from heavy metals and dioxins, both found in the smoke released from the landfills, are associated with exposure to lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic. For example, cadmium compounds are currently mainly used in re-chargeable nickel-cadmium batteries and have been shown to have cancer-causing agents. Similarly arsenic, chromium and lead have also been shown to have compounds that may result in cancer or organ poisoning to those exposed to the heavy metal.
These same chemicals are released into the atmosphere through either smoke or through falling fine ash and therefore pose a significant health risk to the community. Landfill fires also release high levels of Carbon Monoxide (CO) into the atmosphere which causes additional health effects through depriving the body of oxygen.
The Foundation urges residents to sign the petition at urging decision-makers to act swiftly in addressing not only the landfill fires, but also waste management in general.
“These fires constantly pose a threat to the health and well-being of our communities and nature on St. Maarten and especially now, when the Great Bay area will be very busy with revellers for Carnival, we are concerned about the effects these fires are having,” said Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets.

Source: Daily Herald
Nature Foundation reiterates concern about landfill fires