Beginning May 1, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) open burning ban goes into effect for 54 Georgia counties. Gwinnett, Walton and the surrounding counties are included in this summer burning which has been in place during the summer ozone season since 2005.
According to the press release from the EPD announcing this year’s ban, the open burning ban prohibits citizens and businesses from burning yard and land-clearing debris from May 1 through September 30. In addition, the burning of household garbage is prohibited year round.
Ground-level ozone, which can cause lung inflammation and other health problems, is most commonly produced in the heat of the summer. Open burning also creates particle pollution consisting of extremely small particles that can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. The burning ban goes into effect during the time when people, in particular children, are more likely to be outside and the outdoor activity coincides with the increase in ground-level ozone and particle pollution.
“We can’t control the weather,” Karen Hays, Chief of the Georgia EPD Air Protection Branch, said in the press release. ”But limiting open burning during these hot summer months when ground-level ozone is so readily formed is one of the easiest ways to help Georgia’s air quality continue to improve.”
Some actions such as campfires and agricultural activities are exempt.
In addition to the EPD Open Burning Ban, some counties or cities may have other burning restrictions enacted in response to local needs, drought and fire dangers. A county or local government may have restrictions that are more stringent than the state rule but not less stringent. Check with local Fire Marshall or the Georgia Forestry Commission for details specific if you have any doubts.
Citizens can access more information on the open burning ban by visiting http://epd.georgia.gov/ and clicking on “Open Burning Ban” under Quick Links, or by calling the EPD District Office in their area (phone numbers listed below). Small businesses can obtain help and information by calling EPD’s Small Business Environmental Assistance Program toll-free at 1-877-427-6255.
Local counties included in the ban and the appropriate EPD District Office phone numbers are:
- Mountain District Office (Atlanta): 404-362-2671 Carroll, Clayton, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Heard, Henry, Rockdale, and Spalding counties.
- Northeast District Office (Athens): 706-369-6376 Banks, Barrow, Butts, Clarke, Hall, Jackson, Jasper, Madison, Morgan, Newton, Oconee, Putnam, and Walton counties.
For more information about alternatives to burning, such as composting and chipping, visit http://epd.georgia.gov/air/outreach-and-alternatives-burning. You may also access a map of Georgia composting operations at http://epd.georgia.gov/composting-operations-georgia.
Debris can also be hauled to a commercial processing/grinding/composting operation or to an inert or construction and demolition landfill. For a list of landfills in your area, please call EPD’s Solid Waste Management Program at 404-362-2692 and/or visit the Land Protection Branch website for more details: http://epd.georgia.gov/land-protection-branch
To obtain a burn permit: 1-877-OK2-BURN or http://www.gatrees.org/online-permits/index.cfm
Georgia EPD District Office Locations and Contact Information
What are the rules of the open burning ban per the EDP?
Don’t burn anything from May 1 – September 30.
- *Agricultural burning exemption
- **Forestry “prescribed burning” exemption
- Campfires or barbeques
- Fire-fighting training exemption, provided appropriate permit is issued
- Operation of open flame equipment exemption
- Explosive disposal in accordance with U.S. Department of Labor Safety Regulations
*Does not include land use changes
**Not exempted in the 19 county metro Atlanta non-attainment area: Bartow, Carroll, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Newton, Paulding, Spaulding, Rockdale and Walton.
Failure to adhere to the burn ban during May – September may result in fines.