Glades residents raise health concerns again over sugarcane harvest burns
An FSU study released this year concluded that air pollution from the burns can cause premature deaths. Some protestors are calling on the sugar industry to focus on greener methods of harvesting.
People living and working in the Glades region of Palm Beach County are once again raising concerns over sugarcane harvesting — particularly in regards to the smoke and ash that comes from it.
The pre-harvest burning season in the western part of the county began in October and runs through April. Farmers set fire to nearly 400,000 acres of sugarcane fields to strip the plant down to the stalk, which makes it easier to harvest.
But a Florida State University study released this year concluded that air pollution from the burns can cause premature deaths.
Palm Beach Post reporter Antigone Barton was at a recent protest outside of the county health department in West Palm Beach.
"The health department issued an alert because smoke from the Canadian wildfires was hanging over southern Florida. And they said if you've got breathing problems, stay indoors," Barton said. "So why not a warning for the people who are living with a blazing fire in their backyard that research has shown is life threatening."
Some protestors are calling on the federal government and the sugar industry to focus on greener methods of harvesting. This includes using mechanical harvesting machines instead of burning.