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Philip A., GA

It was a clear day when I picked up my two sons following their elementary school day. The weather was very mild, the sky a beautiful blue, and a light breeze was present. As I approached the school's afternoon pick up line with my car's windows down, the acrid smell of smoke wafted in. In the distance, children were playing on the playgrounds amid billows of smoke that relentlessly engulfed the school grounds.

It was quite troubling to realize that young, developing lungs were being needlessly exposed to particulate soot. Upon driving around the surrounding residential areas, we discovered that the source of the offending smoke was a pile of leaves being burned in someone's backyard.

Having made note of the address, I called the county authorities to report the problem, hoping that the fire department would be quickly dispatched to eliminate this hazardous nuisance. To our surprise, county authorities informed us that Gwinnett County, Georgia, located within the metropolitan Atlanta area, permits the open air burning of yard debris from October through April. Such is unbelievable given the perpetual smog alert days of this area, the requirement for all motor vehicles to comply with emissions standards, and the regulations placed upon local coal-burning power plants.

To think that a government that is apparently concerned about air quality allows open air burning within residential neighborhoods lies beyond the boundaries of reason. Despite repeated telephone calls, letters, and e-mail messages sent to our local elected officials, we have yet to hear anything even remotely resembling a reply. I urge everyone living within an area with such open air burning to protest such a policy.

First Published: April 6, 2012

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