my partner works for the air quality district of our county and someone called in complaining about their neighbor who is trying to burn many huge piles of poison oak because they want to put their sheep out to pasture on their big chunk of land. so the thing is, is he already clear cut the land, and so now he has 20 or 30 cubic yards of brambles - poison oak and blackberry and was going to burn it, but the air quality district says no go, so he can't really figure out what to do with it.
He's got them all piled up in 10 burn piles ready to burn them but the poison oak will release some nasty fumes I think. (don't quote me on it) And the dump won't take it. He can't chip it because it will throw poison oak oil everywhere or something.
Anyways, we have googled it and can't really find any way to deal with it, and this guy is all sorts of pissed so I was just curious if any of you had any thoughts.
Well, burning it is definitely dangerous. You can hear many anecdotal stories of how bad it is, or you can listen to the CDC:
Burning these poisonous plants can be very dangerous because the allergens can be inhaled, causing lung irritation.
If the guy can push it all into an unused corner of his land and leave it as a brush pile, it will rot down in a year or two, especially if the climate is not too dry. And the urushiol (the irritant oil) will get composted and become harmless. He probably thinks a brush pile is unsightly, but I can't think of any other reason against them except they can take up a lot of space.
I'm very very allergic to poison ivy, but I do find that if I wash thoroughly with any kind of soap or detergent after touching it, I won't get the rash. I just think rationally about what objects, shoes, clothes, etc, could have touched it and then wash everything that might be carrying urushiol. It's gotten so I never get the rash after I know I've been exposed, but sometimes when I don't (because eastern poison ivy is rampant in Cape Cod where I spend a few weeks a year). However my one experience with poison oak in the west was more difficult to understand and control.
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
I agree with Rebecca - if the guy can let the stuff dry out in the open, then shove it into a corner where it can be ignored, that would be best. Burning it could be fatal to someone like me who is so allergic to it.
Maybe combine the above suggestions? Push all the piles into the driest corner, let it roast over the summer, with plastic overtop if considered necessary to prevent regrowth, and have an excavator hugel it next year?
'Theoretically this level of creeping Orwellian dynamics should ramp up our awareness, but what happens instead is that each alert becomes less and less effective because we're incredibly stupid.' - Jerry Holkins