More than just being an eyesore, waste tire pollution can be hazardous to your health.
Over 240 million tires are discarded in the U.S. every year—3 million in Iowa alone! Currently, 76 percent of those tires are recovered by recycling. Unfortunately, most of the rest end up in illegal stockpiles and landfills, or in creeks, ditches, and ravines.
There are many problems associated with waste tire disposal:
Burying tires is prohibited
Burying whole tires at the landfill has been prohibited in Iowa since 1991. Tires are difficult to compact and do not decompose easily. Not only do tires take up valuable landfill space, but over time they tend to float to the top, working their way up through the waste and soil. Once they break through the surface, the landfill’s cover is broken, exposing its contents to insects, rodents, and birds and allowing landfill gases to escape.
Similarly, shredded and quartered tires are banned from SCISWA Landfill disposal. Those items are sent to a tire recycling processor.
Tire fires are extremely dangerous and the most difficult problem associated with stockpiled waste tires. These fires:
- Are difficult to extinguish–The thing that make tires good fuel unfortunately also makes tire fires difficult to put out. Large tire fires can burn for a long time, depleting firefighting resources.
- Pollute the air–Hazardous compounds and potentially toxic gases are released in the thick black smoke produced by tire fires.
- Contaminate the ground–The oil and ash created during fires can contaminate the ground, endangering our ground and surface waters and the water that we drink.
Tire dumps and improperly discarded tires are ideal breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes and rodents. Tires retain water and absorb sunlight, providing a warm, cozy environment suitable for raising large families of these not-so-lovable vermin. During summer, mosquitoes can be a nuisance and have been known to transmit diseases to humans.