The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) is reminding Alabamians of the open burning ban soon to be in effect for 12 counties across Alabama.
The ban, which is designed to protect air quality, is effective from May through October and includes Baldwin, DeKalb, Etowah, Jefferson, Lawrence, Madison, Mobile, Montgomery, Morgan, Shelby, Russell, and Talladega Counties.
Some agricultural and silvicultural burning may be allowed in these counties during these months with prior approval from ADEM and the Alabama Forestry Commission.
Unless prohibited for drought and safety reasons, the burn ban does not prohibit the use of outdoor fireplaces and campfires.
The ban is in effect each year for the warmer months to combat the formation of ground-level ozone and the generation of fine particulate matter. Prohibiting the open burning of wood, tree trimmings, brush, and debris generated by land clearing and construction/demolition activities is an effective way to reduce the formation of ground-level ozone, which is formed when volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides react in the presence of heat and sunlight. Fine particulate matter is found in the smoke from the open burning of vegetation and wood.
Though beneficial in the upper atmosphere, ozone is a respiratory irritant when found at ground level. In addition, fine particulate matter can travel deep into the lungs and cause respiratory distress.
In lieu of open burning, the Department suggests composting yard waste and using leaves, straw, and grass clippings for mulch. In addition to providing air quality benefits, utilizing mulch in flower beds and gardens will also support efforts to conserve water resources.
If you have any questions, contact the ADEM Air Division at (334) 271-7879 or (334) 271-7897.