Simply thought of as burning things outside, “open burning” has residual effects well beyond the scope of the naked eye. It creates both health and environmental risks, while producing possible smoke and odor nuisance to those nearby. Additionally, open burning makes it more difficult to meet health-based air quality standards for Marion County.
Studies show that even small camp fires burning clean wood can release toxic chemicals into the air. And burning unclean materials presents an even greater hazard. Thus, before lighting that fire, remember to protect yourself, your neighbors, and your wallet by knowing what and where you can burn.
Open Burning affects everyone. The nature and quantity of smoke generated by burning depends on the type of materials burned and the current environmental conditions. However, all smoke contains pollutants, some of which are toxic. These pollutants can harm the health of your family and neighbors, as well as the environment. Additionally, if not controlled, fires can destroy property.
Smoke from burning five pounds of leaves alone contains about a pound of air pollution. Because initially the smoke is relatively close to the ground, that it can be inhaled before dispersing into the atmosphere causing irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. And once airborne, the smoke can drift into surrounding areas causing even more related issues.
Often, the smoke generated has the greatest impact on those with asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, pneumonia, or allergies. It is not uncommon for smoke from open burning to exacerbate these conditions, which could lead to severe difficulty breathing. Individuals with pre-existing lung problems, and women who are pregnant or nursing could suffer more serious health effects.
Repeated exposure to smoke can also cause developmental problems in children, and increase the chances of developing cancer. Even healthy children are affected by small particles of mold, fungi, and chemical pollutants found in smoke.
Marion County residents are allowed to burn only dried twigs or limbs and branches that originate from their property for disposal purposes, if they follow these requirements:
DPW -- Air Quality Home
Materials ILLEGAL to burn at anytime, anywhere in Marion County, include the following:
Illegal burning may result in fines up to $2,500. CH 511 ARTICLE VII Open Burning
Chapter 511, Section 511-703(4) states the City of Indianapolis may grant approval for open burning of plant life grown on the premises in the course of agricultural operations, when it can be shown that such open burning is necessary and that no fire hazard will occur. This is provided the person intending to dispose of plant life by open burning shall obtain approval from the fire department which has jurisdiction, and from the City of Indianapolis. The document below addresses the specific requirements one must meet in order to perform such a burn. An application must be submitted as directed on the form.
Chapter 511-704 states the Department Business and Neighborhood Services may authorize:
If your organization is intending on conducting a fire training in Marion County, an application must be submitted to the Bureau of Environmental Services at least ten days in advance of the training.
Please call the Mayor’s Action Center at 327-4622 to register an open burning complaint. If there is an emergency, call 911.
If you need additional information pertaining to the City’s open burning response program, please call 327-2236 or visit www.indy.gov/bns.