Residents in Columbia and Richmond counties have just one more week before a seasonal ban on outdoor burning goes into effect May 1.
The ban, which affects 54 counties this year – six more than in 2011 — is part of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s effort to reduce ozone and particle emissions that are most dangerous during warm weather months.
The ban extends through Sept. 30 and prohibits citizens and businesses from outdoor burning of yard and land-clearing debris. The rule is in addition to a statewide, year-round ban on burning household garbage. Some actions, such as campfires and agricultural activities, are exempt from this ban.
Particle pollution can increase the risk of a heart attack. In the summer, nitrogen oxides combine with fumes from fuels, paints and vegetation to form ground-level ozone, which contributes to respiratory ailments.
Most counties, including Richmond and Columbia, are under rules that require a free, daily permit before burning. Anyone planning to burn yard debris during the final week can obtain a permit online at www.gatrees.org.
With the results of the 2010 U.S. census, six new counties in Georgia have populations over 65,000 and are now subject to the restrictions. The new counties are Barrow, Bulloch, Newton, Troup, Walker, and Walton.
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 the year.
The open burning ban began in 1996 with the 13-county metro Atlanta area and was expanded to other parts of the state in 2005.