Recycling event targets tires, West Nile virus
Area residents can rid themselves of potentially harmful scrap tires at a reduced price on Saturday.
Unity-based Westmoreland Cleanways will knock $1 off its normal fees for recycling worn tires in an effort to get them out of backyard scrap piles, where they can fill with rainwater and serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes that might spread West Nile virus.
In its second year, the special collection is co-sponsored by the Westmoreland Conservation District’s West Nile virus program, which is underwriting the dollar discount through a grant. Last year’s recycling event brought in 476 tires from 18 different municipalities across the county.
The discount will be available from 8:30 a.m. until noon Saturday at the Westmoreland Cleanways Recycling Center, in Building F at 113 Innovative Lane, off Route 30. The fee for a passenger car or light truck tire that has been removed from the rim will be $2, instead of the usual $3, during the event.
One scrap tire can become the home for hundreds of mosquitoes, according to the conservation district. An old tire also can pollute soil and water, when the oils, chemicals and heavy metals it contains break down and leach into the environment, conservation officials note.
Westmoreland County had one of the worst seasons last year for West Nile virus infections, with damp, humid conditions adding to the problem, according to Chelsea Gross, the conservation district’s West Nile virus program technician.
“The more humid it is, the more quickly the virus will replicate in the bird and mosquito population,” Gross said.
Last year, she collected 67 mosquito samples in Westmoreland that tested positive for the virus, up from just 16 in 2017. In each year, one human infection was documented in the county.
“With the weather we had last year, we had a really bad West Nile season,” she said. “If it repeats, it could potentially be another bad year.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people who are infected with the West Nile virus don’t experience symptoms. About one in 150 develop a severe illness affecting the central nervous system, such as encephalitis or meningitis.
Businesses are not eligible for the recycling discount. Groups cleaning up tires from illegal dump sites must register with the 2019 Great American Cleanup of PA to receive free tire recycling at the Cleanways center.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .