Editor's Picks

Other Sports

Toxic fires continue, despite obvious danger to health

Friday 15 September 2017 | Published in Smoke Signals


It seems the message about burning tyres, and all sorts of other dangerous materials isn’t getting through at all.

Seen near the port on Wednesday, billows of thick smoke coming from what appeared to be burning tyres, creating a very bad experience for people eating at the Punanga Nui market. For the record, open burning of plastic or rubber wastes can be dangerous to your health and the environment. Burning tyres releases a toxic mix of pollutants and children are especially at risk. Hundreds of different toxic pollutants are created by burning tyres as well as a massive naumber of small particles that settle deep in the lungs. the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Environmental Health has found that particles from tyre fires have been found to cause increased mortality and hospitalisations for heart disease and cancer.


Burning plastic, meanwhile produces harmful quantities of dioxins, a group of highly toxic chemicals are emitted. Dioxins are the most toxic to the human organisms. Toxic gases emitted by burning plastic materials can also cause cancer, impotence, asthma and a number of other serious health problems. With NCDs already a major problem in the Cook Islands, surely we don’t need to create even more unnecessary health risks.


Wednesday’s fire prompted an angry response on social media from island residents, some of whom said the Health and Environment ministries turned a blind eye to fires burning toxic materials. Amazingly, the employee of a government department weighed into the debate on Facebook, saying he didn’t see any problems with burning tyres, and that people should keep burning them!


Kata usually gets it right but he missed the mark on the Crimes Bill consultation meetings. Takitumu had their meeting at the Matavera CICC community hall and about 60 people showed up at short notice. The response at the meeting was so strong that the Select Committee has extended the deadline for written submissions. They have also agreed to revisit Takitumu but to each of the three main Oire: Ngatangiia, Titikaveka. (It is not clear whether they intend revisiting Matavera because they were the first venue.) The Select Committee indicated that any such return would be after the Pa Enua consultations. The final decision would be up to Parliament.


It seems the economisers are back on the island – spotted the other day, three people on one scooter in Arorangi. So far, the record four tourists on a bike (Mum, Dad and two children) spotted in Kavera last year has yet to be equalled or beaten.


The letter on the helmet law published in CINews on Tuesday made a lot of sense. The police really do need to target the problem area when it comes to motorcycle accidents – and that is young males, who hurtle around the roads at night during the weekends at breakneck speeds. It would also be useful if some police stationed themselves at some of the speeding hotspots late in the afternoon after work. But the only time we ever see them is in the morning when people are travelling to work.