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Laws, Safety and Alternatives

Laws

Burning materials such as plastic, rubber, foam, chemically treated wood, textiles, electronics, chemicals or hazardous items is prohibited. Burning for domestic purposes from a one or two family dwelling in an approved home incinerator, is allowed as long as it is not prohibited by local ordinance and it does not create a smoke or odor nuisance. An approved container is one constructed of metal or masonry and a covering device with openings no larger than inch. If not properly maintained to this standard, burning in an unapproved container requires a permit and solid waste from a household may not be burned.

Remember, you can be held responsible for the cost of putting the fire out if it escapes and for any property damage.

Safety

Keep vegetation clear in a 10 foot circle around your burn barrel.

Know the current fire and weather conditions. Do not burn on windy days or during periods of dry weather.

Burning shortly after a rainfall or in the evenings is the safest.

Stay with your fire until it is out.

Alternatives

Burn barrels do not provide good combustion of household waste. The smoke emitted consists of a number of chemicals that can be irritating or harmful. Chemicals commonly detected in burn barrel smoke include dioxins, benzene, styrene, formaldehyde, furans, PCBs, lead, mercury, and arsenic.

Consider recycling as an alternative to burning your household's solid waste. Click here to Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recycling pages.

Composting yard waste in your back yard is an inexpensive way to turn leaves and grass clippings into compost that can be used to enhance garden soil or for mulch in landscaping. For more information go to: http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3585_4130-14774--,00.html.

Review the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's "Burning Household Waste" brochure by clicking here. or go to http://www.epa.gov/msw/backyard.

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