Bollard fire a health concern

The remains of several large treated timber bollards, burned in the sand dunes along Boambee Beach.
The remains of several large treated timber bollards, burned in the sand dunes along Boambee Beach. Bruce Thomas

AN act of environmental vandalism in the sand dunes along Boambee Beach may have a considerable impact on the health of the perpetrators.

The Jetty Landcare Group was shocked to find someone has burned several large treated timber bollards, which were ripped from the ground.

The bollards have been erected to stop vehicles accessing dune regeneration areas.

But it’s not the destructive act or the threat of the fire getting away that has people worried, the concern is that the culprits have cooked and sat around the campfire, breathing in toxic fumes.

"We couldn’t believe it when we came across the ashes, obviously who ever did this doesn’t know the dangers of breathing in smoke from treated timber," Jetty Landcare coordinator Desnee McCosker said.

"We have informed the council and they say it’s likely the bollards will be replaced.

"I’m concerned because who ever sat around that fire could have been poisoned and may be at risk of lung cancer," she said.

The bollards, treated with copper chromium arsenic, would have let off highly dangerous and poisonous fumes when burned.

University of NSW’s Head of Toxicology and Occupational Health Professor Chris Winder said both chromium and arsenic are carcinogenic.

Several scientific studies have found CCA-treatment can cause cancer.

"It’s concerning to hear the gases and chemicals from the fire might have been inhaled," Professor Winder said.

"While long term exposure to these chemicals is more dangerous from a health perspective, anyone showing health symptoms respiratory wheezing or a cough should seek immediate medical attention," he said.

Breathing in the chemicals can cause a sore throat or irritated lungs, and even lead to death.

Other symptoms of poisoning include nausea and vomiting, decreased production of red and white blood cells, abnormal heart rhythm, damage to blood vessels and a sensation of ‘pins and needles’.

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