Recycled storm debris, Saving the environment and your health

SAVANNAH, Ga. – “People want this stuff out of their yards, we want to make sure the streets are open, the rights of way are clear so people don’t get hurt and we obviously don’t want it sitting around for long periods of time where it can attract vermin and other problems,” Marshall Eames, an environmental science professor at Armstrong State University, said.

These are just some of the issues with the storm debris that still fills the streets of Chatham County, but there is a way you can remove it even faster.

“Theoretically some of the hardwoods could be salvaged and used for veneer, for lumber, for cabinet making things of that nature,” Eames said.

And if you have limbs from oak or pecan trees, then firewood is another option.

“Obviously if you’re going to burn it in an indoor fireplace using pine isn’t a good idea because it produces a lot of creosote, but the hardwoods again would be something you could burn,” Eames said.

However, these limbs can cause some health concerns.

“When you burn any kind of cellulosic material, any kind of wood, you generate particulate matter,” Eames said. “You can also generate other pollutants, oxides of nitrogen and things like that, which potentially can cause problems for people respiratory problems and other problems for the environment.”

With these piles hanging out on the side of the road and the dry conditions you should keep anything flammable, or something that may cause a spark, far away from the debris.

“Smokers, people who use this for open fires or in their fire places need to use great caution with conditions as they are,” Eames said.

Also, make sure kids aren’t playing with leaves or pulling sticks from the pile. Not only is a liability issue, but a health hazard as well.

“Big piles of debris do have a habit of attracting vermin of all sorts,” Eames said. “Is it a health hazard just sitting there? Not unless people go waving through this stuff.”

City ordinance does prevent anyone from burning their debris outdoors, so make sure it’s in your fire place only.

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