Nature Foundation survey shows: Forty percent seek medical assistance after dump fires

POSTED: 05/25/16 6:46 PM


stmaartendump fireThe toxic fumes from a landfill fire on April 15 loom over Philipsburg. Photo courtesy Nature Foundation / Robert Cijntje


St. Maarten News – A survey by the Nature Foundation among 500 respondents has confirmed what everybody knows and nobody wants to talk about: the fires on the dump in Philipsburg affect people in all districts. “All districts of St. Maarten have been affected by the smoke caused by the landfill fires,” the foundation said in a press statement.

The survey found that 35 percent of the respondents frequently experience negative effects through the year and 50 percent complained about trouble with breathing due to the smoke from the landfill fires.

Almost three quarters (73 percent) said that they experienced burning in their eyes, nose or throat during dump fires and 50 percent had burning or watering eyes from the toxic fumes.

A significant minority of 30 percent reported nausea and vomiting, while 50 percent reported uncontrolled coughing. A worrisome 40 percent (200 people from the survey alone) sought medical assistance to address health complication arising from the fumes caused by the landfill.

We were all aware that the fumes caused by these fires negatively affect the population. Now with these results we can show what some of the things are which the community is faced with when fires at the dump happen. We must also realize that, not only does smoke from the fires affect the health of the population, but the landfill is constantly off-gassing which also raises health concerns,” Nature Foundation manager Tadzio Bervoets said in a press statement.

The Nature Foundation has forwarded the results of its survey to decision makers and supports continued efforts to address the problems caused by the landfill.

Things seem to be moving because of the significant concerns raised by the population. It is the hope of the Nature Foundation that a solution to this serious health issue is arrived at urgently,” Bervoets stated.

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