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Summer Open Burning Ban

May 5, 2016

Thinking about doing some yard work this weekend and getting rid of leftover leaves and brush from winter? Be careful how you go about your plan. Now that it’s officially May, burning yard debris is prohibited and could cost you a pretty penny. Because of the heat and humidity Georgia experiences during the summer, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD), Air Protection Branch has put strong restrictions on open burning May 1 through Sept. 30.

How to Get a Burn Permit

All types of open burning in Georgia require a permit with the exception of certain types of agricultural burning. You can apply for a permit one of two ways:

  • Call 1-877-OK2BURN, or;
  • Apply online on the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) website. Here, you will also find more information on local burn restrictions.

What’s with the Burning Restrictions?

Open burning can damage your long-term health because of its effects on the ozone layer. Ozone is part of the air we breath and can reach unhealthy levels in the summer. Ozone molecules form when volatile compounds and nitrogen oxides react when combined with heat and sunlight. A major source of these pollutants comes from burning fuel and combustible materials; therefore, the Georgia EPD has identified burning as a major contributor to ozone formation. For this reason, 54 counties in Georgia are restricted in regards to open burning during the summer months.

Summer Burn Ban

Georgia’s Rules for Air Quality defines open burning as “an outdoor fire that produces combustion and emits those products directly into the outdoor air without passing through a stack, chimney or duct.” From May 1 through Sept. 30, burning is prohibited in 54 designated counties, with a few exceptions. These exceptions include things like: campfires and barbecues, permitted fire-fighter training and operation of open flame equipment. Failure to abide by the rules of the summer burn ban will result in fines.

Non-Summer Burning

Although summer burning is prohibited, there are fewer restrictions on open burning from Oct. 1 through the end of April. The EPD has identified 13 permissible types of open burning in Georgia. However, counties that are included in the summer burn ban AND also have populations over 65,000 are limited to just 9 of the 13 burn types for the remainder of the year. You can find local burn restrictions for your county or locate your district office on Georgia’s EPD website. Keep in mind, open burning of household garbage and lumber is illegal at all times in every Georgia county.

Learn more about open burning rules, the Summer Open Burning Ban, permitted burn types and the Hidden Hazards of Backyard Burning from the Air Protection Branch.

Chelsea Stephens

About the Author

Chelsea Stephens is the Marketing & Training Lead for Digital Services Georgia. A Georgia native herself, Chelsea enjoys writing on topics that citizens and visitors of Georgia can enjoy and learn from. 

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