Georgia's annual ban on outdoor burning begins May 1 in 47 counties. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) puts the restrictions in place during the summer months, when increases in ground level ozone may create health risks.
For seven counties that are normally included in the summer burn ban, restrictions will be activated on June 1, giving them extra time to clear vegetative debris from April storms. Those counties are Banks, Catoosa, Chattooga, Floyd, Gordon, Upson and Walker.
"From May until September 1, open burning of yard and land-clearing debris is prohibited in some counties where particulate matter pollutants and chemicals from smoke are more likely to combine with emissions from vehicles and industrial activities," said Frank Sorrells, Chief of Protection for the Georgia Forestry Commission. "That's more likely to occur in cities, where there's more asphalt and concrete than open green space and trees to help cool and filter air. The risk of wildfire also may be high in summer, so our agencies are closely monitoring air quality and weather conditions for the safety of all Georgians," Sorrells said.
The 47 counties affected by the ban beginning May 1 are: Barrow, Bartow, Bibb, Butts, Carroll, Cherokee, Clarke, Clayton, Cobb, Columbia, Coweta, Crawford, Dawson, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Hall, Haralson, Heard, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Jasper, Jones, Lamar, Lumpkin, Madison, Meriwether, Monroe, Morgan, Newton, Oconee, Paulding, Peach, Pickens, Pike, Polk, Putnam, Richmond, Rockdale, Spalding, Troup, Twiggs and Walton.
May through September is the time of year when people, particularly children, are more likely to be outdoors. Higher levels of ground-level ozone and particle pollution levels are known to contribute to lung problems and heart disease.
Residents in Georgia counties not included in the annual burn ban will continue to be required to secure a burn permit from the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) before burning outdoors. Permits can be secured online at GaTrees.org, by calling 1-877-OK2-BURN or contacting their county GFC office.
"During this time of increased focus on safety and respiratory issues in response to COVID-19, the GFC will be particularly mindful about the potential impact of smoke in every area of the state," said Georgia Forestry Commission Director Chuck Williams. "The GFC and EPD carefully monitor air quality indices and will continue to do so wherever prescribed fire is permitted."
For more information about the EPD summer burn ban go to https://epd.georgia.gov/ and click on “Open Burning Rules for Georgia” under Popular Topics, or call the EPD District Office serving your area. To learn about services of the Georgia Forestry Commission, visit GaTrees.org.