Hazards of Illegal Dumping

Some may choose to dump their tires along our roadways, onto others property, down road banks, and more. This is illegal. It does harm to the environment, property owners where the tires are dumped, can cause a safety hazard and is surely not worth the risk.

Illegal dumping is a violation of county and city ordinances and violation of state law punishable by fines up to $1,000 and 60 days in jail.

Tire Fires

Every year tire fires occur across the nation at small, unregulated tire dumps. Since 1971, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that at least 176 tire fires have occurred in the United States. Some tire fires are produced by accidental causes and some are deliberately set.

Putting Out a Tire Fire

Waste tires and waste tire stockpiles are difficult to ignite. In 1973, a 7-million-tire fire in Virginia burned for almost 9 months, polluting nearby water sources. The heat from the tire fires caused some of the rubber to break down into an oily material. Prolonged burning increases the likelihood of surface and groundwater pollution by the oily material. But once on fire, tires burn very hot and are very difficult to extinguish. In addition, the doughnut-shaped tire casings allow air drafts to stoke the fire. There are 3 main ways to put out a tire fire:

  • Water: Using water to extinguish a tire fire is often a futile effort, because an adequate water supply is usually unavailable. Also, water sprayed on burning tires cools them down, producing an oily run-off which can contaminate nearby furnace and groundwater.
  • Foam: Using fire-retarding foams is another possible method to extinguish a tire fire. Concentrated foams are mixed with water and sprayed through a hose. But forms can contribute to the run-off problem and are generally expensive to use due to the large amount needed to put out a tire fire.
  • Allow to Burn: Sometimes tire fires are allowed to burn when they occur in isolated areas away from surface water or population centers. However, a large tire fire can smolder for several weeks or even months, sometimes with dramatic effects on the surrounding environment.

Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes

Along with their potential as fire hazards, tire stockpiles also provide an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Because tires partially fill with water regardless of their position and absorb sunlight, they provide an ideal environment for hatched larvae. Although tire dumps are sometimes associated with rodents, the primary problem has been with various species of disease-carrying mosquitoes that like to breed in tires. In fact, a certain mosquito that breeds in tires is commonly referred to as the "tire pile mosquito". At least 2 varieties of mosquitoes , Aedes triseriatus and Culex pipiens, transmit 3 strains of encephalitis: LaCrosse encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, and West Nile encephalitis. Encephalitis results in inflammation of the brain and can lead to coma, deafness and death. Recently, a third mosquito is cause for concern.

Asian Tiger Mosquito

This mosquito was introduced to the United States from Asia through shipments of waste tires into Houston Texas, in 1985. Since then, the mosquito has been transported throughout the United States via waste tire shipments. The mosquito has been found as far north as Chicago, Illinois. The infestation of the Asian Tiger mosquito is considered serious because of its ability to transmit several diseases. It is nicknamed for its aggressiveness when biting humans.