By Stephanie Larson, Program Coordinator for Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful

While illegal dumping happens in both rural and urban areas, it is most likely to occur in remote and secluded places – rural areas where few people live and the roads are less traveled. The content of an illegal dump can vary, but in addition to household waste and building materials, you will almost always find scrap tires.

According to the Department of Environmental Protection’s website, Pennsylvania has 12 scrap tire piles that contain 10,000 tires or more. There is no doubt that many additional smaller piles exist across the state.

The risks that scrap tires pose are many. They not only provide a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes that transmit West Nile Virus, but when stored outside or illegally dumped, can leach toxic chemicals that contaminate soil and water causing serious harm to humans, wildlife, and the environment. Scrap tires burn easily and are hard to extinguish.

Tire pile fires can be started intentionally or unintentionally, and can burn for long periods of time. When tires burn, it creates air pollution, and the burning rubber can decompose into oil, which can pollute groundwater and surface water.

“Illegally dumped trash and tires pose an abundance of health and safety hazards. Disposing of unwanted items, such as tires, properly in the first place is not only more cost effective, but it reduces dangerous situations, including possible fires that consume valuable community and state resources to control. Options are available. Special collections provide a convenient, affordable disposal option. Visit Keep PA Beautiful’s website Calendar of Events at for special collections near you, or contact your county’s Recycling Coordinator. We all need to be responsible for disposing our waste correctly,” said Shannon Reiter, President of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.

For more information on DEP’s Waste Tire Program, including a link to the Waste Tire Recycling Act and a list of ongoing waste tire collection programs sponsored by counties, municipalities or county/municipal authorities, please visit


About Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful’s vision is a clean and beautiful Pennsylvania. Since 1990, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful has worked with hundreds of thousands of volunteers across the state to pick up nearly 148 million pounds of trash from Pennsylvania’s roadways, waterways, greenways, vacant lots, forestlands and other community spaces. Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful’s core programming focuses on litter and illegal dump prevention, cleanup, community greening, and proper waste handling and sustainable practices.  Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful works with many partnering organizations on the state and grassroots level to accomplish our goal of a clean and beautiful Pennsylvania.  Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful is the state affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, Inc., the nation’s largest volunteer-based community action and education organization. To learn more about Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, visit

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The Hazards of Dumping Scrap Tires