The Environmental Protection Division began its annual open burning ban in 54 counties in and around the metro Atlanta area Wednesday. The ban is in effect for the ozone season, which runs May 1 through September 30.
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. People, particularly children, are more apt to be outdoors during May through September. It is during this time that ozone and particle pollution are generally higher than the other parts of year.
EPD has identified open burning as a significant contributor to ground-level ozone, and began summertime restrictions on open burning in 1996. Some types of open burning have always been prohibited by the Georgia Rules for Air Quality Control, however this ban prohibits several additional types of burning during the ozone season, including burning of leaves, tree limbs or other yard wastes and burning vegetative waste from land clearing.
Composting, mulching, chipping, natural decomposition, etc. are recommended alternatives.
The department’s monitoring data shows that the air quality in Georgia is improving. “We are working hard to improve air quality in Georgia, said James A. Capp, Georgia EPD Air Protection Branch Chief. “This success is confirmation that the clean air programs we have in place in Georgia, including the open burning ban, are working.”