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Burning rubber danger

Published:Sunday | April 26, 2015 | 12:00 AMChad Bryan
File Tyres with water hold a double attraction for mosquites, who also home in on the colour.
This man seemingly pays little attention to the risk he's taking with his vision impaired by tyres as he rode along Newland road in Portmore St. Catherine on Friday August 30, 2013 .
Fire fighters from the Jamaica Fire Brigade were kept busy earlier this month putting out a raging fire at a storage area for discarded tyres, located at Westbrook Avenue, in St Andrew, next to the Riverton City dump.
Firefighters from the Jamaica Fire Brigade were kept busy putting out a raging fire at a storage area for discarded tyres in St Andrew, next to the Riverton City dump.
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On April 13, black smoke blanketed a section of Spanish Town Road, St Andrew, close to the Riverton City dump. Added to that a plume of smoke went high in the air, spreading harmful substances from the burning tyres even further.

According to information provided by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the burning tyres, which are made mainly of metal and rubber, resulted in more than 100 types of pollutants being released into the air.

NEPA said that "These species fall under the general categories of organic pollutants, criteria air pollutants, particulate metals and greenhouse gases."

Vyvyan Howard, a senior lecturer in toxicopathology at Liverpool University, was quoted in a 2002 article by The Guardian newspaper as saying that "tyre burning emits ultra-fine particles that have a toxicity all of their own".

He added that, "The toxicity is even stronger if this contains metals such as nickel and tin, which you get when you throw the whole tyre into the furnace. If the metal content of the particles goes up, then there is going to be an increasing impact on health."

Last March, a similar incident took place when the tyre cell which covers approximately five acres of land at a section of the Riverton dump and held approximately 500,000 tyres was

set ablaze.

According to NEPA, that fire began at approximately was completely extinguished at 5 p.m. on March 26, 2014. The report stated that most of the 500,000 tyres were burnt totally, excluding a few that were covered by the material used to fight the fire as well as tyres from the rear section of the cell.

Since this year's incident, the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) has taken action against Michael Carter, the businessman and Riverton City resident on whose property the tyres were lit. He was charged under section 45(b) of the NSWM Act for operating a disposal site without a valid licence or operating certificate.

With worn tyres, an inevitable result of driving, an Australian company is suggesting that old tyres be used on racetracks as buffers. They also suggest that the particles on the tyres' be used for sports surfaces and making new automotive parts.

Chris Chin, sales manager of BD Gregg and Bros Limited, one of the Caribbean's leading retailers and distributors of tyres, said old or used tyres are given out for recycling by the company.

"At this moment, there is somebody who is recycling them. They are picking up the tyres. When we change it from the car, we pack it up neatly to the side of the gate on the inside and it is picked up," Chin said.