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To Burn or not to Burn…

May 9, 2019

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) receives many inquiries this time of year about opening burning. What is open burning? What rules are in place about burning grass clippings or leaves? We've looked through our most commonly asked questions regarding opening burning and have provided the answers here!

"Open burning" is the burning of unwanted items, such as household trash, brush, leaves, grass, and other materials where the emissions from the burning are released directly into the air without going through a stack. Open burning can lead to an increased risk of forest fires and smoke can be a problem. Smoke can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.

Public Act 451 of 1994, as amended, Section 324.11522 regulates the burning of household waste and provides a ticketing authority for officers. As far as the burning of household waste is concerned, burning any materials containing plastic, rubber, foam, chemically-treated wood, textiles, electronics, chemicals, or hazardous materials is not allowed. Legal materials being burned may only be from a one or two-family dwelling in an approved container and must not violate any other department rules. In short, paper products are still generally legal to burn. Note that some communities prohibit the open burning of any household waste.

Are you able to burn glass clippings and leaves?

Just like your household waste, whether you can burn your grass clippings and leaves depends on some variables. Burning grass clippings and leaves is illegal in any community that has a population over 7500 (unless otherwise authorized by local ordinance).

Is barn burning legal?

Burning barn/Rules and regulations governing the open burning of structures are very explicit. The open burning of any structure is only allowable for fire suppression training. There is a notion that open burning of structures is preferable to demolition. This is not the case. Any time a structure is being removed the proper notification and removal of regulated materials, such as asbestos, must be completed before any other action is taken.

Can brush and stumps be burned?

Burning of trees, logs, brush, and stumps is allowed in most of the state if it is not closer than 1400 feet to an incorporated city or village limit and if the burning does not violate any other department rules. As with all other burning, this type of burning also has its stipulations. In most cases a burn permit is required from either the local municipality or the state. Before you burn, go to Michigan.gov/BurnPermit to see what you need to do.

Homeowners, local governments and fire departments can find information about potential health effects, creating a model burning ordinance, as well as how to properly conduct a fire suppression training burn at Michigan.gov/OpenBurning.


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