NYS Seal




Oral Testimony by Invitation Only


Prohibition on Open Burning of Solid Waste in New York State.


To examine the health and environmental impacts of the open burning of solid waste, and issues related to its prohibition.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004, 9:00 a.m.
Roosevelt Hearing Room C
Legislative Office Building, 2nd Floor
Albany, NY 12248

While existing evidence indicates that the open burning of solid waste may pose serious and widespread threats to public health and the environment, the practice continues in New York State. Currently, New York State regulations allow for the open burning of solid waste in towns with a population of 20,000 or less. Residents in those and downwind municipalities may be exposed to the harmful health and safety impacts of this practice.

Harmful toxins emitted from the open burning of waste include dioxins, which, like other pollutants, are generated in significant amounts due to the low combustion temperatures and poor air distribution inevitable in open burning devices. Open burning of solid waste has been identified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) as the largest quantified source of dioxins in the nation. Dioxins are highly toxic even at extremely low levels, and have been linked to serious health problems in humans, including cancer and adverse developmental and reproductive effects. The dioxins emitted by open burning can migrate significant distances and accumulate in the food chain, contaminating meat, dairy and other agricultural products and even wild game consumed by humans.

In addition to dioxins, smoke from open burning of waste frequently includes significant amounts of over 20 dangerous pollutants, including benzene, particulates, PAHs, lead, arsenic and mercury which can damage the respiratory system, nervous system, kidneys, and liver of those exposed. While few waste management options are pollution free, emissions from open burning are thousands or tens of thousands of times greater than from permitted waste management facilities. A recent US EPA report, prepared with the cooperation of the NYS Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation, found that burning 3 to 11 pounds of household waste in a burn barrel is equivalent to the burning of 200 tons of household waste in a modern, well-controlled incinerator.

The purpose of this hearing is to examine the health and environmental impacts related to open burning of waste and to obtain information from experts and affected parties regarding proposals to prohibit the open burning of waste statewide. The hearing will also investigate the fire safety risks of open burning. Evidence shows that open burning of waste frequently causes property fires, and Wisconsin, in particular, has estimated that one-third of its forest fires are ignited by the unintended spread of backyard waste-burning.

Oral testimony will be accepted by invitation only and limited to 5 minutes duration. 10 copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committee would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements. Written testimony will also be accepted and may be sent to the contact person listed on the reply form. In order to further publicize the hearing, please inform interested parties of the Committee's interest in receiving written testimony from all sources.

In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Assembly, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Assembly facilities and activities.


Persons invited to present testimony at the public hearing on Open Burning of Solid Waste to be held on March 10, 2004, or who wish to submit written testimony only, are requested to complete and return this reply form by March 5, 2004 by mail or fax to:

Alex Roth
Legislative Analyst
New York State Assembly
Program & Counsel Staff
Capitol/ Room 520
Albany, NY 12248
e-mail: rotha@assembly.state.ny.us
(518) 455-4363
fax (518) 455-5182

(It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of emergency postponement or cancellation.)

I plan to attend the following public hearing on March 10, 2004 to be conducted by the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation.

I have been invited to make a public statement at the hearing. My statement will be limited to 5 minutes, and I will answer any questions which may arise. I will provide 10 copies of my prepared statement.

I will address my remarks to the following subjects:

I do not plan to attend the above hearing.

I would like to be added to the Committee mailing list for notices and reports.

I would like to be removed from the Committee mailing list.

I will require assistance and/or handicapped accessibility information. Please specify the type of assistance required:






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