Stop Burning Within 1 Mile of Champaign-Urbana City Limits - Protect Our Right to Clean Air!

  • by: K. Gilbert
  • target: Champaign County Board; Enviornment and Land Use Committee; Champaign City Council

ALL Champaign-Urbana Residents Deserve to Breathe Clean Air!   Stop Leaf and Yard Waste Burning Within One Mile of Champaign-Urbana City Limits!

  • Are You Tired of Breathing Toxic Smoke from Burning Leaves?
  • Are You Worried about How This Smoke Affects Your Health, the Health of Others, and Our Environment?


Sign the Petition and Share with Family and Friends in Champaign County, Illinois!

While leaf and yard waste burning is illegal in the Cities of Champaign-Urbana, any area that is “unincorporated” yet located right next to Champaign-Urbana City Limits is allowed to burn with no restrictions. There is already leaf and yard waste pick up available to homes in these areas, yet they still continue to burn.

When people in nearby unincorporated areas burn their yard waste and leaves, those of us living near City Limits are not able to breathe clean air in our own homes and yards.  There are also several parks near these unincorporated areas, and children are exposed to this heavy smoke when playing at the park or during sports practices.

Smoke from leaf burning is not only unpleasant to smell, it is unhealthy to breathe. A known carcinogen, smoke from bruning yard waste enters nearby yards and homes and causes severe respiratory problems (including asthma) for people of all ages, especially those who are young and the elderly.

Leaf and yard waste burning impacts the air that all of us breathe.  The burning of leaves produces a considerable amount of airborne particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and at least seven known carcinogens. One of the most notorious carcinogens is benz[a]pyrene, a polyaromatic hydrocarbon.  Like the secondhand smoke from cigarettes, benz[a]pyrene from leaf burning endangers us all.

Many harmful chemicals are produced and released into the air when leaves are burned. Some of these chemicals are toxic to people, animals, and plants. In addition, some of these chemicals react with nitrogen oxides in the air to produce ozone.*

As residents Champaign-Urbana, we are joining together to tell the Cities of Champaign-Urbana and Champaign County to protect our right to breathe clean, safe air by prohibiting any leaf and yard waste burning within one mile of Champaign-Urbana City Limits.

But we need your help!  If you live in Champaign County, sign the petition and share this with family and friends in Champaign County, IL.

Resources:   Leaves vs. Lungs

Hazards of Backyard Burning (EPA)

*quoted from The Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances, DE

 

Additional Background Information:

While leaf and yard waste burning is prohibited in the City of Champaign, any area that is "unincorporated" yet directly adjacent to the City of Champaign can still burn yard waste and leaves with no restrictions.  There is already leaf and yard waste pick up available to homes in these areas, yet they still continue to burn.

For Champaign City residents in many parts of the City, this means that leaf and yard waste in these unincorporated areas occurs mere blocks, or even feet, from our homes.  The smoke from this burning easily carries into our homes and yards, where we are forced to breathe it unless we completely shut up our homes and remain indoors.

While smoke from yard waste and leaf burning is not healthy for any person of any age to breathe, it is particularly dangerous for children and older adults, especially those with respiratory problems.  In November 2013, my 2 year old son was hospitalized after a day of heavy leaf/yard waste smoke in an "unincorporated" area adjacent to our neighborhood. He was in the ICU, on a breathing machine, for 11 days. He then remained on the Pediatric Floor for an additional 8 days. We almost lost him. His diagnosis was respiratory failure, due in part to the heavy leaf burning smoke he was exposed to while simply playing in our front yard.

We are urging the Champaign County Board to amend the County Ordinances and prohibit any leaf and yard waste burning within one mile of Champaign City Limits. Please sign this petition and pass it along to other residents of Champaign County. (You can click on the "Petition" tab on the top of this page to read the actual petition letter).

Our desire is that all areas of the Cities of Champaign-Urbana - including those bordering unincorporated sections - will be free to breathe clean, safe air in our own homes and yards.

 

Dear Champaign County Board, Champaign County  Environment and Land Use Committee, Champaign City Council, and Urbana City Council,

We are writing to urge you to help correct a very serious problem for residents in the Cities of Champaign-Urbana.

There are many neighborhoods in the Cities of Champaign-Urbana which are located adjacent to "unincorporated" sections of the Champaign County.  In these unincorporated sections, there are no landscape waste or leaf burning restrictions in place.  People living in these unincorporated areas are currently allowed to burn leaves and yard waste at will, even though their property may be only feet or yards away from homes offically within the City Limits.

Smoke from the piles of burning leaves and landscape waste easily travels and gets into our yards and homes (through the chimney, dryer vent, open windows, etc).  We are then forced to breathe heavy smoke from the burning, even when simply in our own yard or home.

Smoke from burning leaves and yard waste has been shown to trigger asthma and breathing issues, and is unhealthy for the overall population, especially children.  Morrissey Park and other parks are located mere blocks away from sections of "unincorporated" Champaign County, and are affected by smoke from unrestricted burning.  This smoke permeates these parks, even while children are on the sports fields and playgrounds. 

All of us - children, families, and adults - living in close proximity to unincorporated areas are regularly exposed to a heavy veil of smoke when people burn leaves and other forms of landscape waste.  As mentioned before, this heavy smoke is not healthy for anyone of any age to breathe, but is particularly dangerous for children and the elderly, especially those with respiratory problems.  It is completely unnecessary for this burning to occur since leaf and yard waste pick up already takes place in unincorporated areas adjacent to the City Limits!

We understand that the Champaign County Board, together with the Champaign County Environment and Land Use  Committee, are ultimately the entities with the power to implement restrictions to burning in unincorporated areas of Champaign County.  We are writing to urge you to help.  Please work to provide protection for your constituents living in areas adjacent to unincorporated Champaign by issuing a distance restriction for burning, prohibiting burning within at least one mile of the City Limits. 


Our desire is that all areas of the City of Champaign-Urbana - including those bordering unincorporated sections - will be free to breathe clean, safe air in our own homes and yards. 


We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who urge our leaders to act now to prohibit the burning of landscape waste and leaves in any area within at least one mile of the Champaign-Urbana City Limits.
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