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

Monotone: WordPress Photoblog Theme

Monotone is a pretty cool photoblog theme for WordPress that’s been around for a few months now. Unfortunately it was only available on WordPress.com, and through the Automattic Subversion repository as reported by Jeff on Weblog Tools Collection.

Noel Jackson, the author of the theme, recently revealed that Monotone is now available as a .zip download on the Monotone demo page above. Now it’s easier for self hosted WordPress blogs to try it!

What’s so great about Monotone? It displays a large image in each post like Pixelpost and other photoblog themes, but it does it in a neat way. WordPress allows the blog author to upload and attach images to their posts. It’s then up to the author to insert the image into the post and tidy up the html. Monotone takes this one step further. There’s no need to insert the image into the post at all. The theme takes the first attachment and displays it at the top of the post, with the post content below.

I’d love to use it, but unfortunately I have several years worth of posts that would need to be modified because I used Flickr to host my images until recently. Then I used my own site, but inserted the right html into each post, so they’d all have to be modified unless I hacked the theme to ignore old posts.

RSS feeds display the image too, although I discovered that the feed for the demo site includes some huge images. Probably just an oversight when Noel was uploading images.

Judging by Noel’s comment here, it probably isn’t completely straight forward to install. You probably need the GD library and a hefty server with enough RAM to load and manipulate your images. Anyone tried it? Use my theme tester plugin if you want to test it on your blog without upsetting your visitors!

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

The state of street photography in the UK

Scary. I blogged previously about photographer’s rights in Irelnd but it appears that UK Police are ignorant of those rights which are similar to Ireland’s. I have never been stopped by Gardai (the Irish Police Force) taking photos on the street, but in the UK it seems to be a growing problem for photographers. Have you ever been stopped shooting photographs in a public place?

Make sure to read Photographer’s Rights from DIgital Rights Ireland to find out more about your rights as a street photographer in Ireland. If you travel you should always be aware of local laws as they’re liable to change in every jurisdiction. (via dslrblog.com)

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 Park Gallery 2

What happens when Photobloggers go to Doneraile Park? You get lots of images, that’s what. Here’s the second installment of photos from our Doneraile Photowalk. Check out the first gallery for more photos of the day. A few of these will eventually make their way into full posts but that may take a while!

I think my favourite photo from the day is this one Katie took of us exploring dilapidated buildings next to the park. Looks very suspect!

Aperture ƒ/6.3
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 10mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/125s