Wednesday was the last day Columbia County residents could legally burn their yard debris.
The five-month ban on outdoor burning began Thursday and applies to 54 Georgia counties.
The ban, which began in metro Atlanta in 1996 and expanded in 2005, prohibits citizens from burning yard debris such as limbs and leaves through September. Campfires and agricultural burns are exempt.
Burning household garbage is banned year-around.
The state Environmental Protection Division enacted the ban to reduce ground-level ozone, which is most commonly produced when the heat of summer is combined with fumes from fuels, paints and vegetation, according to the EPD. Burning yard waste releases chemicals and particle pollution that negatively affects those with health problems such as asthma and lung and heart disease.
Columbia County Extension Agent Tripp Williams suggests people use other methods to dispose of yard debris.
“Create a compost pile,” Williams said. “That’s always a good idea.
‘‘Compost created over time is beneficial when added to garden soil.”
He also recommends mulching debris to be reused on the yard.
An inert landfill like Sample and Son on Colum-bia Road near Grovetown is an option for folks wanting to completely remove debris from their property.
Residents also can check with their garbage disposal provider about their yard- debris removal options.
For more information about the ban, visit EPD’s Air Protection Branch Web site at www.georgiaair.org and click on the open burning flame.me.