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Open Burning The Risks of Open Burning
What You Can and Cannot Burn
To Report Open Burning
For More Information

Open burning poses risks to health and the environment

Open burning — burning anything outdoors — can harm your health and that of your neighbors.

DHEC discourages open burning in all circumstances. In some situations, it’s illegal and you can be fined a lot of money, even if it’s your first violation.

Open burning:

  • releases unfiltered and untreated toxic pollutants and particles directly into the air at ground level, where they can be easily inhaled;
  • produces ash that can contain toxic metals such as mercury, lead, chromium and arsenic. People sometimes scatter the ash or bury it in their backyard garden. There, vegetables absorb and accumulate the toxic metals and children playing in the yard can ingest the contaminated soil; and
  • frequently causes brush, residential and forest fires particularly during drought.

Instead of burning household garbage outside, dispose of it properly. Better yet, recycle and compost


Attention Commercial and Residential Builders ...

It is against the law to burn any waste from commercial construction sites. At residential construction sites, it is against the law to burn materials other than clean wood waste. Clean wood waste from residential construction sites, however, cannot be burned during ground-level ozone season (April 1 through October 30) in South Carolina.

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What can I burn or NOT burn outdoors in South Carolina?
(If allowed by local ordinance)

Yard trimmings
Paper and cardboard
Outdoor fireplaces
Roofing materials
Household cleaners
Heating oil
Farm chemicals
Tires and rubber products
Electrical wires
Insulation and duct work

NOTE: Using burn barrels to burn garbage also is illegal.

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To Report Open Burning ...

The S.C. Forestry Commission regulates certain types of outdoor burning. If you live outside city limits, you must notify the S.C. Forestry Commission before you burn anything outdoors. If you live within city limits, there may be local ordinances that apply to outdoor burning. Some towns have banned outdoor burning altogether. Check with your local government.

For More Information ...

DHEC’s Bureau of Air Quality also can give you more information about the open burning regulations. Call (803) 898-4118.

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Additional Resources

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Open Burning
(803) 898-4123


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This page was last updated on December 4, 2012.