As leaves are falling from the trees, CT DEEP reminds residents that there are good alternatives to raking leaves – and that it is against the law to burn them.
DEEP suggests the following environmentally friendly methods for disposal of leaves:
1) Compost your Leaves - Shred dry leaves by running them over with the lawnmower. Shredded leaves, up to ¾” deep, can be left on the lawn. Other leaves can be shredded and added to your compost pile. (see Composting at Home)
2) Use Leaves as Mulch - Spread shredded leaves in your gardens to protect and enrich your soil.
3) Municipal Composting -Your community may offer curbside collection or a centralized location for leaf drop off. Often, leaf compost is available in the spring for residential use.
DEEP also said open burning -- even if allowed in your city or town -- does not include the burning of leaves. While many fondly recall the smell of burning leaves on a crisp fall day, the smoke from burning leaves puts dangerous particles in the air that can irritate the eyes, nose and throats of healthy adults. Some of these symptoms might not appear until several days after exposure because microscopic particles that are in leaf smoke can travel deep into lung tissue and may remain there for months or even years causing long-term respiratory effects. Small children, the elderly and people with asthma or other lung or heart diseases are even more susceptible to the dangers of burning leaves. In addition to affecting the health of your neighbors, when conditions are dry, as they tend to be this time of year, burning leaves also present a danger to public safety if they spark a brush or forest fire.
Visit DEEP’s composting and organics recycling webpage and DEEP’s Open Burning webpage to learn more about this topic and other environmentally friendly alternatives to burning your leaves.