This is poisoning my son

ash from burned plastic

A few days ago, in the middle of the day, I noticed a smell of burning plastic wafting in the open window of my home office. I looked outside and saw small flecks of black soot or ash tumbling to the ground. When I rushed downstairs and investigated, I discovered a thick plume of noxious smoke coming from a neighbour’s chimney. The little flecks of ash are so fine that the merest touch turns them into black smears.

Burning rubbish seems to be a common enough practice where I live in Blarney, Co. Cork. It hasn’t happened as often in the last few months as in previous years, maybe because of stricter surveillance of backyard burning. When it was at it’s height, I jokingly considered campaigning for an incinerator to be located in Blarney. At least that could properly trap all the toxins released by burning rubbish and it would be regulated.

Anyway, I decided that I need to speak to my neighbour. I politely asked them to stop burning rubbish in their fireplace, I mentioned that there was soot all over the patio in our garden, and that it had wafted into the house through open windows too. They were suitably apologetic, promising that it wouldn’t happen again. That’s as far as I took it, because I like that neighbour. He’s a nice guy and his wife is a warm woman with a ready smile.

Imagine my shock this morning when I looked out the kitchen door and say soot all over the patio again. Someone had been burning rubbish last night. What do I do now?

My son Adam sleeps in a bedroom overlooking the back garden. His window was closed last night because of the chill, but if it’s warm, then it’s open. According to this article I should be very worried about what my son breathes.

Children can be at much greater risk. Because of their body size, they inhale more air per pound of body mass than do adults, and can absorb a proportionately larger “dose” of toxins.

Children’s bodies are more susceptible to damage from the heavy metals found in the smoke of rubbish fires because their nervous systems are not fully developed. Poly-Vinyl Chloride, or PVC, is a commonly used plastic for vinyl flooring (sometimes called carpeting or lyno), drain pipes, guttering, shampoo bottles, packaging, and thousands of other products.

Apparently 57% of rural dwellers in West Cork burn their rubbish. That’s 5 out of every 12 households. Blarney is an urban area however with a regular waste collection. Quentin Gargan has a blog post on this and gorse burning. Here’s the Irish Examiner article he mentioned. A note from Cork Corporation reminds residents that burning rubbish is illegal:

Cork City Council wishes to draw attention to the fact that under the Waste Management Act 1996 as amended that it is an offence to dispose of waste in a manner which causes or is likely to cause environmental pollution.

The disposal of household and garden waste by burning is one such method of disposal that is deemed likely to cause environmental pollution and furthermore is a source of annoyance to persons in the adjoining locality.

I have no idea who burned the rubbish that caused the soot in my garden this morning. I could presume it was the same neighbour but there isn’t any proof. I could stay up all night, with a window open, ready to catch the tell tale odour of burning plastic. Or I could call the Cork County Council litter warden.

Besides the obvious damage burning rubbish does to your health, this may also lead to neighbours falling out and fighting. If the same neighbour is responsible, they have put me and my wife in the unenviable position of having to fight this illegal behaviour. If this turns bad for them, if they’re fined, they’re going to blame us even though it’s their fault in the first place. No wonder people don’t report their neighbours.

What would you do?

Aperture ƒ/8
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 72mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/160s

Express & Logistics

Express & Logistics

A DHL van near Paul Street, Cork provided me with a nice excuse to try out the urban acid plugin again! This has been sitting on my computer for almost 2 years but I only recently worked on it. Glad I did too. Love that red streak coming out of the shadows!

Aperture ƒ/8
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 11mm
ISO 200
Shutter speed 1/125s

Discarded fishing tackle

Discarded fishing tackle

Fishing tackle, nets, and even a gas cylinder rest against a wall near Allihies Beach in West Cork.

I saw all this stuff just sitting there, looking all out of place in a field.

PS. If you’re contributing to The Irish Photographers site, leave a comment on this post using your gmail address and I’ll add you to the Google Analytics account for the site.

Aperture ƒ/5
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 10mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/60s

Spikey Cactus

spikey cactus

Cacti are probably an everyday sight for people living in desert regions, but I look out the window of my office and all I see are lush green trees, an overcast sky and the threat of another shower of rain. They’re an exotic plant for me to see out growing in the open.

They also make for great black and white subjects as the spikes leave great long shadows against the low January sun. Expect more of these in the next few weeks!

A previous spikey photo is a lot different, and creepier!

Aperture ƒ/8
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 10mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/160s

No. 2400

No. 2400

At Biosphere 2 in Arizona the land around the main building was sold to developers to fund the experiment and for maintenance. Unfortunately all the houses there looked very empty, but maybe that was because it was in January and in the off season.

Aperture ƒ/9
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 10mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/250s

Red Lantern

red lantern

A lantern with red glass sides sits on the window sill of the restaurant in the Quay Coop, Sullivan’s Quay in Cork. In the background is Halifax Bank which I have photographed previously.

Processed shots from the photowalk in Doneraile will take a while to do. Still catching up after the day out yesterday!

Aperture ƒ/5.6
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 106mm
ISO 400
Shutter speed 1/250s

Doneraile Photowalkers

Doneraile Photowalkers

I had a busy day today. This morning I became aware that hackers had started using WordPress blogs they had previously hacked to redirect search engine queries. So I spent this morning working on a post about that hacking issue. No wonder we were late for the photowalk this afternoon.

Shown above are almost all the photowalkers. My wife isn’t included as she was in the car, but from left to right, here are the rest: Andrew, Katie, Kevin, Will, me (Donncha), and my son Adam. Adam didn’t take any photos but he was an integral part of the day! Thank you all for coming along. It was nice to see the same faces again. I’m never sure about landscape shots but I shot a few nice ones. Got plenty of deer shots too! Just before we got back to the car it started to rain lightly, and by the time we got home to Blarney the rain was bucketing down. Looks like we got the best of the day!

Shot was taken in Program mode, with fill in flash of +2EV to illuminate the wide angle view of the lens.

Aperture ƒ/5.6
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 12mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/80s