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Illegal Dumping has become an epidemic to cities in the past couple of years but the issue has become the disposal of these sites and not just the dumping. Many cities are having a hard time allocating the funds and man-power to prevent and even take care of illegal dumping sites. To a city councilman, it might not seem like a big enough deal to put more money into but illegal dumping sites can do more harm to cities than one would think.

From Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources page

How the Problem Grows

“One person sees it, it becomes everyone’s garbage can” states Sandy Howard of Price Hill, Cincinnati in an interview with Toledo News. It starts off small, some litter in an abandoned lot and after a few weeks or even days, a large pile has started and becomes a problem that will just keep getting bigger since it is now seen as a “dumping area” even though it is illegal. However, this problem is exacerbated in low-income neighborhoods like Price Hill since the city government doesn’t see the area as a high priority; especially when it comes to upkeep and cleaning. Now the large pile of garbage will continue to grow until it becomes too large to ignore or until citizens take care of it themselves.

Why is Illegal Dumping an Issue

It may seem obvious why illegal trash piles might be an issue for the area they’re located in but there are larger issues that come along with dumping sites that the average person might not be aware of.

Pests and disease- Trash piles are a huge attractor of mice, rats and other rodents who will occupy the area surrounding the pile as well. These pests can carry disease and pose a direct health risk to those around the pile. Bugs, insects, and especially mosquitoes are attracted to trash piles which can carry diseases like multiple strands of encephalitis and the West Nile Virus.

Hazardous Materials- Often times the contents of Illegal Dumping Sites includes a menagerie of hazardous materials and waste that people did not want to dispose of properly because it is costly or time-consuming. This could include dangerous chemicals like antifreeze or bleach solutions but also acid contamination from batteries or other industrial products.

Property Devaluation- While not linked with health or well-being, properties in the area of an illegal trash pile become devalued severely since no one would want to move into a residence with a trash problem and businesses wouldn’t be able to attract customers since a trash pile would turn most people away.

What You Can Do

  • Dispose of trash Properly, especially waste that needs to be disposed separately from regular garbage like batteries, tires, etc.
  • If you see a trash pile starting, notify your local government or waste management center immediately.
  • If your local government isn’t taking responsibility, take action yourself. Get together other concerned citizens in your community and start a task force to properly dispose of an illegal trash site. If you don’t have the manpower or time, your city most likely already has a citizen task force or organization.

Check out Ann Arbor’s Natural Area Preservation page to find out how you can do your part in keeping the city clean