Dee Jepsen – State Agricultural Safety & Health Leader
October and November are two months in the fall where open burning is a fire concern for Ohio residents. It’s a good idea to know the type of fire permitted for your area.
The Ohio EPA determines the types of fires that are restricted inside and outside of a village or city. For the most part, open burning of residential and land-clearing wastes are not permitted within city limits. Restrictions do not apply to barbeques, campfires, cookouts, and bonfires (with wood stacks no larger than 2ft. high X 3ft. wide) – these types of fires are permitted.
Agricultural products, such as wastes and plant matter from tree trimmings, stumps, brush, weeds, leaves, grass, shrubbery and materials from crop or livestock production, are permitted to be burned with restrictions. Likewise burning of fence posts and scrap lumber (but not from buildings or land clearing waste) are also permitted. All open fires must be more than 1,000 feet from a neighbor’s home or inhabited building.
Wastes that are never permitted to be burned include: garbage, dead animals, and products containing rubber, grease and asphalt. Fires cannot be near, or block vision of, roadways, railroads or airfields.
The months of October and November carry open burn restrictions. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, fires can become out of control due to windy and dry conditions. Because of these conditions, open burning is not permitted in rural areas from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. During the ban, fires must be in a plowed field with a 200 feet distance of woodlands or brush.
With any fire, small particulates are suspended in the smoke that could lead to health disorders. Open fire burning has been linked to asthma and respiratory illnesses. Household wastes contain various chemicals and these toxins can emit high levels of sulfur dioxide, lead and mercury. Airborne pollutants can lead to more severe health conditions such as nervous system damage, kidney and liver damage, and reproductive disorders.
For additional questions about Ohio’s open burning regulations, contact the Ohio EPA Division of Air Pollution Control at (614) 644-2270. Local EPA districts are also available to answer questions. Their website contains a complete list of agencies available in the state, http://epa.ohio.gov/dapc/general/openburning. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources website is http://forestry.ohiodnr.gov/burninglaws.