Guidelines for Ohio’s Open Burning
Why is open burning a problem? Open burning can release many kinds of toxic fumes. Leaves and plant materials send aloft millions of spores when they catch fire, causing many people with allergies to have difficulty breathing. The pollutants released by open burning also make it more difficult to meet health-based air quality standards, especially in or near large cities. The gases released by open burning can also corrode metal siding and damage paint on buildings.
What open burning is never allowed? Under Ohio law, these materials may not be burned anywhere in the state at any time:
• garbage – any wastes created in the process of handling, preparing, cooking or consuming food;
• materials containing rubber, grease and asphalt or made from petroleum, such as tires, cars and auto parts, plastics or plastic coated wire; and
• dead animals – unless approved for control of disease by a governing agency.
Other restrictions:• Open burning is not allowed when air pollution warnings, alerts or emergencies are in effect.
• Fires cannot obscure visibility for roadways, railroad tracks or air fields.
• No wastes generated off the premises may be burned. For example, a tree trimming contractor may not haul branches and limbs to another site to burn.
Does Ohio EPA ever allow exceptions to the rules? Under certain circumstances, yes. However,to burn a prohibited material or set a fire in a restricted area, you must receive written permission from Ohio EPA before you begin burning. This may take two weeks.
Can a community regulate open burning? Yes. However, local ordinances cannot be less strict than the state law.
What happens if I’m caught illegally open burning? Ohio EPA has the authority to enforce the state’s open burning laws. Violations can result in substantial penalties. If you have any questions, or would like to report a suspected open burning incident, contact your Ohio EPA district office or your local air pollution control agency. See the map in this brochure for the agency to contact in your area.
Health Concerns Burning household waste produces many toxic chemicals and is one of the largest known sources of dioxin in the nation. Other air pollutants from open burning include particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, lead and mercury. These pollutants have been linked to several health problems, including asthma, respiratory illnesses, nervous system damage, kidney and liver damage, and reproductive or developmental disorders.
What can I burn?
•Barbeques, campfires, cookouts: Wood stack no larger than 2 ft. high x 3 ft. wide. Use clean, seasoned firewood or equivalent.
•Agricultural waste: Agricultural wastes and plant matter such as tree trimmings, stumps, brush, weeds, leaves, grass, shrubbery and material from crop or livestock production. This includes fence posts and scrap lumber, but does not include buildings, land clearing waste, dead animals or animal waste. Fire must be more than 1,000 feet from neighbor’s inhabited building. Request permission from Ohio EPA if pile greater than 20 ft. wide x 10 ft. high (4,000 cubic feet). This may take two weeks.
•Land-clearing waste: Plant matter such as tree trimmings, stumps, brush, weeds, leaves, grass, shrubbery and crop residues. With prior written permission from Ohio EPA. This may take two weeks.
•Residential waste: Plant matter such as tree trimmings, stumps, brush, weeds, leaves, grass, shrubbery and crop residues. Also wastes such as wood or paper products that are generated by one-, two-, or three-family residences. Fire must be more than 1,000 feet from neighbor’s inhabited building. Request permission from Ohio EPA if pile greater than 10 ft. x 10 ft. x 10 ft. This may take two weeks.
•Ceremonial fires: Wood stack no larger than 5 ft. high x 5 ft. wide. Duration no longer than three hours. No notification required
•Occupational fires (welding torches, heating tar, heating for warmth of outdoor workers and strikers): Use clean, seasoned firewood contained in a 55-gallon drum.
•Firefighter training, Explosive material disposal: With prior written permission from Ohio EPA. This may take two weeks.
•Horticultural, silvicultural, range or wildlife management practices: With prior written permission from Ohio EPA. This may take two weeks.
•Disease or pest control: Local health department, Ohio Department of Agriculture or U.S. Department of agriculture verifies to Ohio EPA that open burning is the only appropriate control method.