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Know the Facts

Open burning is both illegal and harmful to air quality. State and local laws, regulations, and ordinances restrict and often ban open burning activities. The smoke from open burning can affect people nearby. It contains particulate matter which can be inhaled. People with heart or lung disease, older adults and children are considered at greater risk because particles can aggravate these diseases and inflame developing or weakened air passages. People with diabetes also may be at risk, because they are more likely to have heart disease.

Heart and lung diseases that add to your risk include:

  • asthma
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • congestive heart failure
  • coronary artery disease

Knowing the risks of open burning means understanding the health impacts, as well as the impacts it has on property and human life. The South Carolina Forestry Commission reports that 98% of all wildfires in South Carolina are caused by people. Careless trash burning is the leading cause of wildfires in our state. The Forestry Commission firefighters respond to more than 4,000 wildland fires burning about 24,000 acres per year. When an open burning incident occurs in South Carolina, there can be serious consequences to our health and environment.

Just don't burn - there are many safer, easier and more environmentally friendly choices each of us can make:

  • Yard trimmings and landscape debris such as leaves and grass clippings, make up of 20% of the waste created from our homes. Composting and grasscycling are simple ways to properly manage and reduce this waste as well as provide benefits like adding nutrients to your grass and improving soil quality.
  • Instead of burning land-clearing debris, salvage the reusable timber and then grind or chip the remainder.
  • Never burn demolition debris. It could contain asbestos and lead-based paint. Learn more about proper construction and debris management.
  • Burning household garbage is illegal and it poses a risk to your family's health. Instead, look for ways to reduce waste or recycle. There are recycling opportunities in each of South Carolina's 46 counties.