Frequently (and not so frequently) Asked Questions
BRIEF: Is there any danger in cutting and burning Nerium Oleander?
I need to cut down and burn a large amount of nerium oleander plants. What is the danger of cutting down and burning of these plants and the smoke from the burning of these plants? I know that these plants are poison to animals and humans, but what about handling them and the smoke from burning them?
According to Fuller and McClintock's Poisonous Plants of California, people have been poisoned by the smoke of incompletely burned oleander [perhaps from a low temperature fire] and some people do report skin irritation from the sap. I grew up in California and am familiar with the plant and its deadly effect on animals that ingest it, but have no first-hand knowledge of poisonous smoke from it. It would be reasonable to believe that if enough of the cardiac glycoside managed to hitch a ride on smoke particles without being itself burned up, then inhalation could be a possible route of intoxication. I suggest a very hot, fuel-aided fire and staying upwind from it.