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Tire burning threatens Lebanon's public health and economy

July 18 2012 00:00  2399 views
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Lebanese environmental and health experts warned of the health hazards caused by tire burning that protesters often engage in during demonstrations.

Citizens gathered in Beirut to protest the burning of tires, as participants carried tires decorated in colours. They blocked traffic in the capital to express their anger with the practice. The demonstration against tire burning occurred as environmental, tourism and health experts increased their warnings against the practice, which they said is a threat to public health. On the environmental level, experts said the practice is also a threat to Lebanon's environment, especially because clearing the air of toxic substances takes a long time.

"The rubber in the tires generates toxic emissions, some of which remain suspended in the air for a long time and travels long distances through the air," said Nada Zaarour, chairperson of the Green Party. Lebanon's Green Party, which champions environmental protection, sustainable development and human rights, is the first party in Lebanon to focus primarily on green policies. Zaarour warned that burning tires pose multiple health threats. "Those substances are harmful to the environment and public health and damage the nervous and respiratory systems," she said, noting that individuals who set tires on fire are the most vulnerable to its toxic effects. "The burning of one tire produces as much pollution as the exhaust fumes of a car travelling from north to south Lebanon," Zaarour said.

Zaarour said she wished citizens were more aware of the harmful consequences of burning tires and wondered who will pay the cost of cancer treatment for citizens affected by the smoke. Demonstrators can apply pressure on policy makers through more civilised methods, she said.

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