Give the gift of fresh air

Avoid dangerous – and illegal – practice of burning holiday waste

The holidays bring joy and happiness as families and friends gather together to celebrate the season. As fun and enjoyable as the get-togethers can be, however, there is a downside — trash!  

When groups gather for food and drink, garbage can pile up. Parties produce sacks full of dirty paper plates, discarded decorations, gift-wrapping, and more. All too frequently, that waste overflows the household’s normal allotment of garbage cans, and homeowners choose to burn the excess trash.  

Burning trash of any kind produces very toxic air pollution, as well as creating fire hazards. For these reasons, all trash burning is illegal in the State of WashingtonSmoke from the burning of household waste contains dangerous chemicals that can cause health problems. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), trash burning is one of the nation’s largest known sources of dioxins – highly toxic compounds linked to several health problems, including cancer and reproductive disorders. 

Because of the chemicals used in the manufacturing process, even the burning of plain paper releases these toxic compounds into the air. Trash burning also creates particulate matter (PM) air pollution. Those fine particles can be absorbed deep into the lungs, creating immediate – as well as long-term – health problems. Children are especially at risk because of their small size and growing bodies. 

Rather than burning household waste, ORCAA reminds residents to recycle as much of the material in the waste as possible, and then dispose of the remainder through their regular trash service.  

Excess holiday waste can be taken directly to waste disposal stations, or it may be bagged and disposed of the following week when the household’s waste stream is back at a normal level.  


Media Contact

Dan Nelson

Communications/Outreach Manager