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Burning plastics at home – it’s lethal

BURNING PLASTICS on open fires and stoves will release a cocktail of TOXIC POISONS.

BURNING PLASTICS on open fires or stoves will release a cocktail of TOXIC POISONS.

These poisons harm us, our families, in fact all living creatures. Some  toxins last many years in the environment. They can cause reproductive disorders, they have a serious impact on immunity and they can cause a variety of cancers.

Despite these simple truths, chimney sweeps occasionally encounter situations where householders are burning plastic on their fires.

“You may think that simply burning a plastic bag or a crisp packet causes no harm,” says Lawson Wight, chairman of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps. “But even small actions can lead to emissions of toxic chemicals. The actions of one individual may make little difference, but if enough people do it then it’s a heath issue.”

Sometimes it’s ignorance, sometimes it’s accidental and occasionally it’s deliberate. From “just a few sweet wrappers” to drinks bottles and even used nappies, chimney sweeps occasionally see the evidence.

It’s all dangerous. If you burn plastic on your fire, you harm everyone.

Toxins such as dioxins (including PCB’s) hydrogen cyanide, furans, hydrochloric acid, sulphuric acid: The list of possible toxins is a long one and depends on the type of plastic being burnt.

Lawson added; “We occasionally hear comments like “They burn it at the incinerator so I might as well” or “better it gets burnt than end up in the sea”.  He said; “Plastic waste needs to be disposed of properly, burning even a small amount at home is a very poor choice.  It’s best to reduce use and recycle where possible.

Of course, some plastic is burned in incinerators for disposal and for electricity production. This commercial incineration process occurs at much higher temperatures than a fire at home. There is a lot of public discussion around the use of incinerators. It’s a highly regulated process with a variety of measures designed for minimal environmental impact.

The golden rule for householders is never, ever burn plastic at home. Follow the guidelines of your local council to dispose of plastic appropriately.

For more information on efficient responsible burning please visit


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