Reminder: Leaf-burning prohibited statewide to protect public health
With autumn leaves beginning to fall, DNREC’s Division of Air Quality is reminding residents that burning leaves is prohibited statewide. The leaf-burning ban, in effect since February 1995, is important to protect people from harmful chemicals that are produced by open burning, officials said.
Leaf burning, they noted, produces a considerable amount of airborne particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and at least seven carcinogens. Some of these compounds react with sunlight and chemicals in the air to produce ground-level ozone, a respiratory irritant considered particularly dangerous to children and the elderly.
In addition to the leaf-burning ban, burning grass, refuse, trash or garbage is also prohibited year-round. Cooking fires and campfires meeting size restrictions are legal year-round, unless prohibited by local, town or county ordinances; however, only clean, unpainted wood or charcoal is to be used in those fires.
Burning of cut or fallen branches, limbs or shrubbery trim from a residence is allowed daily, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Oct. 1 to April 30, except when the State Fire Marshal issues a ban on all outdoor burning. Open burning for agricultural or prescribed purposes and for intentional structure fires for firefighter training requires written notification to DNREC.
For more information on the statewide leaf-burning ban, open-burning requirements and air quality, contact Tom Postell at (302) 739-9402 or visit www.awm.delaware.gov/Info/Pages/OpenBurningMain.aspx.
Illegal burning continues to be among the most common complaints handled by DNREC’s Environmental Crimes Unit. Since 2007, more than 2,900 illegal-burning complaints have been investigated, and more than 420 arrests have been made.
Citizens can report illegal burning by calling 1-800-662-8802, and Verizon Wireless phone customers in Delaware can reach DNREC’s Environmental Complaint Line by calling #DNR, toll and airtime-free.
Delaware residents have several options to help manage leaves and other yard waste, officials noted, including handling it on their own property by composting, including use of a mulching mower; arranging to have someone else collect yard waste, such as a landscaper or waste hauler; taking it themselves to one of many approved drop-off facilities statewide; and developing a community-wide solution by creating a town or community yard-waste site.
DNREC’s Web site includes more information on the details of these options, including a list of drop-off sites. Visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov/yardwaste or contact Deb Nielsen, (302) 739-9403 for more information.