31 Jan, 2017 @ 18:00
1 min read

Expat claims ‘toxic’ leaf burning issue in Estepona is destroying her health

quema hojas
Leaf burning in gardens can be dangerous
Leaf burning in gardens can be dangerous
Leaf burning in gardens can be dangerous

AN expat claims she may be forced from her home if neighbours don’t stop lighting ‘toxic’ leaf-burning fires.

Canadian Jessica Romano, of Estepona, claims she has been left with a lung condition due to thick smoke from fires started in surrounding gardens.

Prescribed with an inhaler and left short of breath, she wants to raise awareness of the issue to prevent others from being affected and encourage more environmentally-friendly practices.

She claims that hundreds of fires are lit each year around her area Las Joyas, as gardeners attempt to clear away dead leaves.

“It’s paralysing”, Romano, 32, told the Olive Press. “The fires get lit at different times of the day, so we have no way of being able to prepare ourselves.

Smoke from a pile of burning leaves near to Jessica's home
Smoke from a pile of burning leaves near to Jessica’s home

“A lot of our neighbours have fruit trees and I think they must have used pesticides because the smoke has a toxic smell.

“It fills our home and we’ve had to literally flee the house quite a few times because we can’t breathe.”

Romano, from Montreal, who bought the villa with her husband a year ago, claims that the acrid smoke led her to develop a serious cough and doctors eventually prescribed an inhaler.

It is also bad for the ozone layer.

“I firstly developed lots of mucus because of the smoke and, after seeing a doctor, I now have to use an inhaler and mask at times.”

The estate agent added: “We love our home but are regrettably considering having to move.”

Romano has since contacted her local environmental officers (the Patrulla Verde) and advised other affected residents to do the same.

“They told me the practice is allowed but there are restrictions and people need special burning licences to do it so they will come investigate.

Jessica Romano
Jessica Romano

“They confirmed that the practice should not lead to smoke coming into my house. They added that they are breaking laws.

“I think it would be much better for the environment and people’s health if people shredded them and used them as compost like we do.”

Send your comments to newsdesk@theolivepress.es.

Chloe Glover (Reporter)

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  1. This is a big issue in Andalucia, and it’s not just neighbouring properties, but town hall dumps, which burn massive quantities of garden rubbish, with other materials chucked in. The acrid smoke takes your breath away and it can consume whole villages. What is the law on this? Perhaps Antonio can write an article about this? No wonder Spain’s air pollution is amongst the worst in Europe. So much for moving to Spain fir the fresh air.

    • Local guardia civil may not investigate properly because of social and family links with perpetrators. We had problems with illegal dumping in a creek, and illegal brush burning here in Asturias. Two of us reported it in person to SEPRONA with photos, and also sent photos and a request for investigation to the Madrid Mininistry of Ambiente . About two weeks later three SEPRONA officers appear on motorcycles and a car to review the situation. The Ayuntamiento began enforcing the laws, presumably after pressure from the Ministry. The lesson, I believe is that there is no enforcement without complaint from two people.

  2. La solución es que se vaya a otro sitio. Estas tareas agrícolas se han mantenido a lo largo de los siglos y están permitidas aunque reguladas. Además, dudo que el problema sea del humo y quizás tenga otra vertiente más psicológica ¿porqué se ha trasladado a España desde Canadá?.

    Muchos extranjeros vienen a España creyéndose que esta tierra es para su descanso y tranquilidad y ese concepto es erróneo. Si no le gusta lo que hay pues busque otro lugar pero sin olvidar que en su localidad ya vivían españoles hace cientos de años.


  3. Maybe she needs to move to london, the dirty man of europe, where the levels of nitrogen dioxide are one of the highest on earth. And it is even worse in the rest of england.

    • Ol’ Blue eyes, perhaps she would but they don’t have bull fighting and there are just as many Spaniard living there. Blast, just can’t get away from em’.

      • No, they dont have bullfighting but they have fox hunting, dog fighting, cock fighting and all the atrocities you can imagine.
        But what did you expect from Britain, where most of the people are either drunkards or hooligans?

      • Well, but they have fox hunting, dog fighting, cock fighting and the rest of the atrocities created in the UK.
        Amd how many Spaniards living there?
        Nothing compared with the 1.000.000 Brits in Spain?

        • Spectacular ignorance from the fake bluemoon. All of the things you claim, only exist in your imagination. But the filthy treatment of animals in Spain, is an incontrovertible, well-documented fact. Get a life, and while you’re at it, a new unused, username.

        • But have no bullrings, besides the 90.000? (in London alone) you mentioned are at least working and sending money back to their impoverish families whereas the 1 million? Brits are also trying to help Spain. I think you will find that in the UK if perpetrators are caught in illegal activities regarding animals they are dealt with under the strict British laws that protect animals whereas in Spain they just tend to look the other way. Famous words by Gandhi. “You can tell the nature of a country by the way they treat their animals”. Perhaps he was also referring to it’s people as being animals.

          • Talking about regulations, why does the OP allow a person to hijack anothers alias and then regularly post obvious offensive comments?

  4. The problem is that these activities are not regulated even though there are regulations. Enforcement of regulations is the problem, not the national identity of the person asking for enforcement.
    El problema es que estas actividades no están reguladas aunque hay regulaciones. La aplicación de las normas es el problema, no la identidad nacional de la persona que pide la ejecución.

  5. If I were her, I´d invite my neighbors to observe my compost equipment and show them how it works. Maybe be they change their mind and star making compost out of leaves. I believe her that the smoke can get into the house and affect the lungs and sometimes are plastic and other chemicals in the fires.

    • Inviting neighbors to see composting is a good idea. Ten years ago we tried to participate in the local Chestnut Festival where there were booths set up to give people environmental protection information. The ganaderos who dominated the PSOE council rejected our attempts.
      Now, however the council might be open to such an attempt, as recycling has become the norm, at least here. Our rural neighbors were receptive to our use of thicj insulation material and solar windows as they understand the high cost of firewood and fuel oil, end of coal and the diminishing woodlands from which to cut trees.

  6. strange response in spanish , saying go back to canada !

    because we burned hear for years , well lots or crimes of the past are today illegal

    just because you alway have done something ,

    how does that make it safe , correct or heathy,

    lots of areas have garden waste collected, but as compost are shedding machine will

    protect the atmosphere a chance to feed us free air ,

    This isn’t a debate, its just finding the correct path to protect the air we breath and obviously

    as more and more children are getting asthma , its worth bringing to the attention today

    so together we can find a better way

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