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An alternative to leaf burning

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Photo: hopsalka/iStockphoto

This fall, think twice before burning leaves – an activity the Environmental Protection Agency says can lead to air pollution, health problems and fire hazards.

Burning leaves produces hydrocarbons containing a variety of toxic and carcinogenic compounds that can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Leaf burning also generates carbon monoxide – a colorless and odorless gas that’s potentially deadly. In addition, burning leaves is illegal in many parts of the country.

A safe alternative to burning leaves is composting. This is done by placing yard trimmings and leaves into a bin, supplying it with the correct amount of moisture and periodically turning the bin. This helps microorganisms break down the waste naturally. The resulting product can be used as fertilizer for gardens.

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