Open Burning

To many people the air we breathe is an intangible thing. This perception of air is caused because people only believe that if something is polluted there will be alterations to visibility and/or smell. This is simply not true. Although we cannot visualize or smell particulates in our air it does not mean we cannot be harmed by them. Harmful particulates that can enter the air we breathe can be introduced through open burning and contribute to or exacerbate respiratory and other health problems. Any outdoor fire without a vent to a chimney or stack is considered open burning. If open burning is undertaken make sure you follow the rules and regulations to allow for a safe, legal, and enjoyable experience.

What effects does open burning have on my health?

The EPA is concerned with open burning because it can harm human and environmental health. Through open burning many toxins, fumes, and spores can enter the air we breathe and greatly affect those with pre-existing respiratory conditions (i.e. asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and chronic bronchitis) or allergies.

Not only respiratory diseases but also heart disease, various cancers, nervous system damage, kidney and liver damage, diabetes, and reproductive or developmental disorders can be exacerbated by open burning. Many of these diseases can be correlated to the release of particulate matter and toxins such as sulfur dioxide, lead, mercury, and dioxins.

What effects does open burning have on my community?

Open burning contributes to detrimental health effects to individuals but also the community. It has been found that health-based air quality standards near and within cities have been more difficult to meet because of the increased release of pollutants through open burning. These pollutants not only have detrimental effects on health but they may also contribute to deterioration of house paint and metal siding.

What open burning is not 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
  • Dead animals unless approved for control of disease by a governing agency.

What open burning is allowed?

There are 9 different types of regulated fires. Specific types of fire each have their own set of restrictions based on not only the fire type but also the location (whether it is inside or outside a village or city).

  1. Barbecues, Campfires, and Cookouts
  2. Agricultural waste
  3. Land-clearing waste
  4. Residential waste
  5. Ceremonial Fires
  6. Occupational Fires such as welding torches, heating tar, and heating for warmth of outdoor workers and strikers
  7. Firefighter training, Explosive material disposal
  8. Horticultural, silvicultural, range or wildlife management practices
  9. Disease or pest control

Additional 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.

Do I need to get permission for barbeques, campfires, or cookouts?

As long as the following criteria are met for the use of a bonfire, campfire, or outdoor fireplace it is not necessary to contact your local air quality management district or Ohio EPA:

  • Use clean seasoned firewood or equivalent, or any clean burning fuel with emissions that are equivalent or lower than those caused by the burning of seasoned firewood.
  • They are not used to dispose of waste.
  • The wood stack is three feet or less in diameter and two feet or less in height

Additional Resources