Open Burning In Limestone County

2014-06-06_14-34-18In light of recent events, it seemed like a good time to share information on what the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) regulations say about the practice of open burning in Limestone County and across the State of Alabama

According to ADEM regulations under section 335-3-3-.01 Open Burning, “Only vegetation and untreated wood may be burned. It is unauthorized to open burn heavy oils, asphalt products, plastics, vinyl materials, insulation, paper, cardboard, natural or synthetic rubber, salvage or scrap materials, chemicals, garbage, treated or painted wood, or any trash.” Exceptions may occur under certain circumstances; however, authorization must be obtained from ADEM


A list of acceptable open burning practices is included in the above-mentioned section of the regulations. There are only a few that might pertain to homeowners; however, if you practice open burning of any kind, it would be wise to familiarize yourself with all of the regulations pertaining to this subject since fines can be in the thousands of dollars for failing to comply.


For safety, always remain at the site of the fire and have a water source nearby.

Be aware of burn bans
When temperatures are high and conditions are dry, burn bans may be put into place to prevent wild fires. Before lighting an outdoor fire of any kind, be sure you know if a burn ban has been issued for the county in which you live. Under a burn ban, no open burning of any kind is permitted.

Does burning trash make it “go away”?
Burned trash does not disappear. Most people who burn their trash do not realize how dangerous it is to their health and to the environment. When backyard burning takes place, pollutants are carried through the air for short and long distances, and then fall upon land, crops, or into bodies of water. Burning paper and cardboard seems harmless, but there are many chemicals added to these materials in the process of making them that are released into the air when burned.

2014-02-07_15-24-50Some pollutants such as mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, and furans stay in the environment for a long time. Contaminated water and food ingested by wildlife can cause cancer, deformed offspring, reproductive failure, immune diseases, and more. Humans can also be exposed to these pollutants indirectly just like wildlife, especially through eating and/or drinking contaminated fish, meat, and dairy products.

Backyard burning should be limited to leaves, fallen or trimmed trees, and other vegetation. All other trash should be placed in garbage cans for pickup or taken to the Transfer Station. Today’s landfills are heavily regulated to insure that contaminants are not released into the environment.

If you suspect that something is being burned other than natural brush and vegetation, contact the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) field office in Decatur, Alabama at 256-353-1713 or go to and click the “Complaint” icon.
By: Lynne Hart