Keeping trash for up to two weeks could cause greater occurrences of flies and maggots, according to a study done in Spokane, Wash.
And based on that data, the Hamilton Board of Health decided Wednesday it plans to launch a public education campaign this spring to alert residents of the possibility of flies and maggots in the trash and offer tips to avoid it.
"They did find a greater incidence of flies," said Board of Health Chairman Lindle Willnow said about the study from out west.
The topic of the health concern of trash collection every other week had been on the board's agenda last fall but had been tabled as the board and Health Department grappled with mosquitoes infected with Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile Virus and the associated spraying and outdoor evening activity ban. Willnow said he has already discussed the issue with Town Manager Michael Lombardo and Selectman Jennifer Scuteri.
Last April, the town implemented a new trash pickup plan that includes recycling and organics collection each week but solid waste pickup every other week. The changes were designed to increase recycling and organics and reduce trash - and the cost to the town. Data from the town through the end of December shows that based on current trends Hamilton is on track to reduce trash by 38 percent and increase recycling by almost 40 percent in the first year of the program.
The message to residents from the Board of Health will be: "Maggots is a potential issue with your trash and there are steps you can take to address it," Willnow said.
The board wants to remind residents that they can spray their trash with bug killer and to make sure stored trash bags and sealed before pickup.
"Certainly it is only a problem when the weather is 80 degrees," Willnow said.
The board also said it wants residents to remember that solid waste trash pickup is available every week, but on the "off" week it needs to be in a blue bag at the cost of $1.75 each.
The board said it plans to piggyback on an existing town mailing, such as water bill or tax bills, to reduce the cost to just paper and copying to get out the word.
The mailing would also include tips on how to avoid animals getting into the trash.