Poison Ground Cover


You Made Mulch Out Of What?

Hello. Old pissy guy here. Back in 1988 I was in Athens, GA. After my college days ended, I stayed around and learned about a few different trades. I spent one season as a roofing laborer; my main task was to (carry) tote shingles up the ladder(s) for the roofers to nail or staple in place. The guy who ran the operation was a 6th grade dropout, but he was not dumb. He knew alot about building/roofing houses.

One of the first things he taught me was that all the shingles I was "toting" were made from oil and petroleum; asbestos and lethal by-products. He told me that I should not rub shingles on my face, and not breathe across any part of the bundle of shingles; treat the shingles like poison. He said that if we saw dogs sniffing/licking the poisonous shingles (while the shingles sat waiting on the ground), that we should shoo them away. I like dogs, but screw the dogs; I want to know why poison is used in roofing materials, and how did we extract the poison from the run-off water in our water system? He explained that much of the waste from building materials goes into the shingles--it always has, and that simple filtration must be able to get the poison out. Sure it does.

I already have at least 4 different moral, ethical, and medical concerns about the roofing on houses now, but these 90 lb bundles aren't going to tote themselves. Hey; look at that! Dogs DO like to sniff and lick the squares of shingles. I'd trot back down the ladder, and yell "Hyaaa! Scram you dumb doggies!" and they'd go away for a few minutes. I learned about some other poisonous building materials in my 6 months of roofing; the poisons sprayed on the wood planks, and the lethal fire-retardent on structural beams, etc. used in creating the exo-skeletons for houses. This is a very screwed up industry. You certainly don't want to know about the materials and chemicals that go into making the "siding" for residences. And landscaping; the chemical sprays they use? Don't get me started.

To the builders and laborers, it was a daily joke that these multi-million dollar new beach and lake houses we were building and roofing were made out of poison. Since we all lived in rented apartments, or lease-purchased trailers at most; we found it amusing that the structural integrity of rich people's 2nd and 3rd homes had been contracted out to poor White trash. The most common line of work for people who live in trailer parks is the "building" industry. And that could be a whole commentary right there; couldn't it? Before today; did it ever occur to you to wonder why most of the people who work in the home-building industry actually choose to purchase trailers--rather than houses? See; I'm here to help you notice things.

But let's not get way too far bogged down in the "lethality" of the roofing, structure, painting, insulation, and landscaping of houses (ALL poison; ALL the time--sleep well), we just want to talk about the extra shingles left over today. There are always bundles, if not full squares of shingles left over after a job (3 bundles makes a "square"). These toxic leftovers are only good for the landfill. Anybody who actually works in the roofing industry would know this. One more time--read it slowly: "Anybody who actually works in the roofing industry would know this."

Flash forward to the year 2000. So this business guy up here who worked in a recycling yard (a fellow Oregonian, and he is not to blame--as you will see) had an idea to grind up these shingles and make ground cover out of them. And good for him; Oregon people think outside the box, and look for better ways to do things.

He was given a patent to grind these poisonous shingles into ground cover. How many people look at patent requests? A dozen? More? Did anybody think to check with a roofer to see what shingles are made out of? Apparently not. This mulch, this 'bark of no spark', has been used all over Oregon. Wind blows the toxic, asbestos, cancerous spores of this mulch around to be breathed in by all creatures; humans and animals alike. Unlike regular ground cover made from tree bark, ground up shingles don't burn (no spark)--THAT was the basis for his patent. I say it's NOT this business guy's fault that the patent office approved, and then the Department of Transportation used his product. He should be doing the talk-show circuit as a problem-solving genius, and this "incident" should be the catalyst to have less poisonous building materials for family homes. But it won't be.

So; what have we learned here? And YOU thought that people who bought trailers were just dumb hillbillies. Not quite. Many trailer-dwellers helped to create the houses you see everyday. Ain't that a hoot? Next time you're driving through a neighborhood, I want you to look up at the shingles and rolled roofing. Think about the water running off all of those poison roofs, down the gutters, into the sewers, and back into the water system. How, exactly, are you going to wash that poison off of you? Scrub-a-dub-dub; 'Hey, I'm trying to wash off the poison with more poisonous water.' Maybe you should call your local water treatment plant, and ask them what they do to de-contaminate the poisonous roof-water before it comes out of your faucet. That'll be a fun phone call. Be sure to e-mail me and tell me how that goes for you. G'night everybody!

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