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[GreenYes] What toxic chemicals are released when a house is burned
Hi GRRN, SustMV and LP Sierra Club Conservation Committee:

Yesterday, my Fire Department conducted a "Live Burn" on a house 150
yards from my house.  It was a low wind day and the smoke plume went up a
couple hundred feet and moved at an angle over my house.  It dropped
ashes on my roof and over my yard.  The house was probably built in the
40s but may have been built decades earlier.  I could never see the house
as it was hidden behind plants on the back side of this remnant farm
property.  (For Mtn. View folks, this property is owned by Councilman
Pear's family.

I contacted the Fire Chief to ask what level of environmental testing
occurred before they approved burning this property.  They followed
standards set by one of the national firefighter associations.  This
included testing for asbestos near the furnace and near the stove and the
first layer of flooring.  

The did not test for lead.  They did not test for mercury switches. They
did not test for asbestos in the drywall, mastic, sub-floors (or what may
have been previously encapsulated asbestos floor tile) or in the asphalt
shingles.  They did not remove any of the plastics in the house prior to
burning.  I don't know if the house contained any lighting ballast that
may have contained PCBs.

My question is:  Can anyone point me to studies or articles on what type
of toxins may have been released into the air and into my yard.  My
intent is to ask the City to increase the level of hazardous material
testing that must be conducted prior to a "Live Burn" exercise.  

My guess is that friable lead and asbestos were released as well as
dioxins.  Not sure about any mercury as we don't know

I will also be asking that they better notify "at risk" population to
potential particulate air pollution (respiratory and heart conditions). 
My neighborhood includes a senior citizen complex and we have many small
children in this high density area.  The smoke triggered my asthma but I
had to be home that day to wait for contractors.

I've always wondered if I'd ever be involved in an environmental justice
issue but this may qualify as this is one of the lower income
neighborhoods.  Does anyone have a definition of what makes an
environmental justice complaint?


Ann Schneider                                                     
Hillwood Ct.   
Mtn. View, CA 94040        
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