The Truth about Pallets

7am September 14th near the Big Corona fire pits

This was the morning-after scene in a secluded picnic area near the Big Corona fire pits.

Pallets are known to burn with an intensity that can be very difficult to extinguish. They are easy to come by. While Newport Beach bans the burning of pallets at the fire pits, it’s practically impossible to enforce.

Burning pallets can produce irritating and potentially toxic gasses. Among the toxic chemicals used to treat wood pallets are:

  • Methyl Bromide, a broad spectrum fumigant currently being phased out by the EPA. According to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) human experience and use history indicate that inhalation exposure to methyl bromide is highly toxic. The symptoms associated with methyl bromide may include headaches, nausea, vomiting, visual disturbance, malaise, confusion, loss of coordination, slurred speech, and skin, eye, and respiratory irritation.
  • Tribromophenol, a flame retardant used on wood pallets, was cause for an over 80 million Tylenol package recall. In the case of the recall, an anti-sapstaining chemical used on wood pallets was cited as causing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain in over 70 consumers according to the US Food and Drug Administration (
  • Some wood pallets are even saturated with formaldehyde – a known carcinogen – and contain rusty nails and paint.

During the most recent Persian New Year, 90 wooden pallets were stopped from burning. Still, on an ordinary night at the Newport Beach fire pits, many people continue to burn pallets.