Beginning May 1 and ending Sept. 30, EPD’s open burning ban will be enforced in 54 Georgia counties. The open burning ban prohibits citizens and businesses from burning yard and land-clearing debris. This rule is in addition to the year-round state ban on the burning of household garbage.
EPD is reminding citizens that both these rules are in place for a reason — and the reason is health.
Besides the obvious effects of smoke on the human body such as watery eyes, smoke from fires contains chemicals and pollutants that negatively impact a person’s health.
Jim Kelly, Manager of the Air Protection Branch’s Planning and Regulatory Development Unit explains: “The burn ban applies to the burning of vegetative debris on an individual’s property, and in some counties, burning for land clearing or forest management. It is enforced during smog season when levels of particle pollution and ozone are highest.”
The open burning ban that begins May 1 is not new. Beginning in 1996 with the 13-county metro Atlanta area, it has gradually come to include 54 counties. With Georgia’s growth and development comes more traffic, more industry, more land clearing and more building — all contribute to air pollution. Georgia currently has 27 counties in “nonattainment” for ozone and/or particle pollution. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines areas where air quality does not meet federal air quality health standards as in “non-attainment.”
EPD is charged by EPA to improve the air quality in Georgia. The open burning ban and the year — round garbage ban are part of the strategy to improve the quality of Georgia’s air — making it healthier to breathe.
Jac Capp, Georgia EPD Air Branch Chief, states that: “We are working hard to improve the quality of air that Georgians breathe. We adopt rules, issue permits and encourage voluntary measures that will have a positive impact on air quality. The citizens of Georgia are key partners as we pursue our environmental goals. Composting or other alternatives to burning are steps in the right direction — we’re all in this together.”
Citizens can access more information on the open burning ban by calling the EPD District Office at (706) 369-6376. Small businesses can obtain help and information by calling EPD’s Small Business Environmental Assistance Program toll-free at (877) 427-6255.