It's illegal to burn trash in Pima County, the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality is reminding.

The department, aware of higher landfill fees, said backyard burning of garbage releases harmful chemicals that can also remain in ash.

"When burned, plastics, polystyrene (such as Styrofoam cups), bleached or colored paper, and pressure-treated wood can produce smoke containing arsenic, dioxins, and furans which are hazardous to human health," a release said. "People exposed to the smoke could experience burning eyes and nose, coughing, nausea, headaches, or dizziness. In addition, smoke can trigger asthma episodes." Contaminated ash can harm children and animals, it continued.

The department and local fire district inspectors can cite residents who burn garbage on their property, with fines up to $400 possible if the behavior is not stopped.

"Proper disposal of garbage at landfills, transfer stations, or by hiring a certified solid waste hauler is the safest and most environmentally friendly way to handle trash," the release added.

To file a complaint about garbage burning, people may contact PDEQ at 740-3340 or go online to www.deq.pima.gov. If there is an immediate fire danger or health concern from illegal burning of garbage, contact 911.

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