The Times of Israel: The Problem with Burning Tires for Protest

By David Harary, Executive Director

This article was originally published in The Times of Israel on April 8, 2018.

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We all know the consequences of conflict. The angst, anger, and outright hostility of warring parties can often injure, or worse, kill civilians caught up in the mess. But an often-overlooked consequence of violence is the destruction of the shared environmental space all parties occupy and rely upon to remain healthy. Our air, water, land, and ecosystems are as much a victim to war as any innocent bystander.

When Gazans gathered thousands of tires to light on fire for their “Great March of Return”, environmental groups, agencies, and advocacies turned an outright blind eye. While tires can produce up to 25 percent more energy than coal, the fumes that are released from their burning have been shown to be extremely toxic to human health and harmful to the environment. Emissions from tires often include “criteria” pollutants, such as particulates, carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur oxides (SOx), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They also include “non-criteria” hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), such as polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins, furans, hydrogen chloride, benzene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); as well as heavy metals such as cadmium, nickel, zinc, mercury, chromium, and vanadium. Health effects from these pollutants can include irritation of the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes, respiratory effects, central nervous system depression, and cancer.


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