Environmental Law Blog
Wait! Don't Burn That!
Open burning is illegal in Missouri, but many people don't know what it means. Open burning is the burning of any material in which air contaminants are emitted directly into the air without first passing through a stack or chimney, according to the Missouri Air Conservation Law and Regulations.
Some open burning is permitted under the Missouri Air Conservation Law, but much to the surprise of many Missouri residents, most open burning is illegal and subject to a fine of up to $10,000. The open burning of most trade, construction, and demolition waste, as well as petroleum-based products, and waste tires is prohibited because toxins that are released into the atmosphere as a result of the burning activity are harmful to human health.
In fact, studies show that the open burning of a single household's trash could release pollutants in higher levels than the burning of the trash of thousands of homes by a municipal waste incinerator because the lower combustion temperatures of the incinerator are designed to prevent complete incineration. These pollutants can include dioxins, volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, hydrogen chloride and naphthalene.
As a result, any waste generated by business, trade, industry, salvage or demolition operation cannot be burned without a permit issued by the Department of Natural Resources. Even then, permits will only be issued for untreated wood. Wastes that can never be burned include tires, rubber, hazardous materials, styrofoam, plastic, petroleum-based products, demolition waste, treated wood, and any asbestos containing material.
So, what can you safely burn in Missouri? Missouri allows the open burning of household refuse from four dwelling units or less provided it originates on the same premises. However, this exemption does not apply to mobile home parks or apartment complexes and only includes materials from routine household activities, such as paper waste and food waste. Open burning is allowed, with zoning restrictions, in the Kansas City, St. Joseph, and Springfield metropolitan areas. Open burning is strictly prohibited in the St. Louis metropolitan area.
Missouri also allows the open burning of yard waste provided that the waste originates and is burned on the same premises. Yard waste includes trees, tree leaves, brush or other vegetation. Check with your local city ordinances for time and date restrictions on the open burning of yard waste.
Missouri residents can burn for fire training purposes, agricultural purposes, land clearing operations, wood processing facility operations, and for recreational purposes. However, these permitted fires should not include anything except vegetative woody materials or untreated wood products where possible.
If you aren't sure whether you can burn something without a permit, contact your local fire department or natural resources office. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
1 Response to "Wait! Don't Burn That!"
November 2, 2008 7:27 am