General Questions

General Questions About Open Burning Relating to Air Quality

How long have air quality open burning regulations been in effect?

What are some of the health effects from backyard trash burning?

What are dioxins?

What is the maximum civil penalty for a violation of 15A NCAC 2D .1900 "Open Burning"?

Can a person go to jail for violations of 15A NCAC 2D .1900?

Who can enforce the criminal provisions contained in 143.215.6?

If I conduct open burning in compliance with 15A NCAC 2D .1900, can I still be sued?

Can municipalities and local air quality programs make rules the same or similar to those contained in 15A NCAC 2D .1900 or incorporate 2D .1900 rules by reference?

What area of North Carolina does 15A NCAC 2D .1900 apply?

Can I get a copy of the open burning regulations from my Forest Service burn permit agent?

I am aware that an illegal fire is burning on my property but I did not cause it. Am I allowed to let the fire continue burning because I did not cause it?


How long have air quality open burning regulations been in effect?  [Back to Top]
Since 1971.

What are some of the health effects from backyard trash burning?  [Back to Top]
Smoke from fires containing synthetic materials can be a serious health threat to you and your neighbors, particularly for those with respiratory conditions such as asthma or emphysema. Potential human health effects include: lung and eye irritation, headaches, dizziness, asthma attacks, and coughing. Burning household trash also produces many toxic chemicals and is one of the largest known sources of dioxins in the nation. The remaining ash contains toxic substances too. These toxins leach into the soil to be taken up by plants or may get into streams, lakes, ponds or groundwater. For more information on the health effects from backyard trash burning go to here.

What are dioxins?  [Back to Top]
Dioxins are highly toxic, long-lasting organic compounds that are dangerous even at extremely low levels. They have been linked to several health problems, including cancer and developmental and reproductive disorders. Dioxins are formed when products containing carbon and chlorine are burned. Even very small amounts of chlorine can produce dioxins. Trying to prevent dioxins from forming by separating out items high in chlorine content is not effective, since low levels of chlorine are present in most household trash.

What is the maximum civil penalty for a violation of 15A NCAC 2D .1900 "Open Burning"? [Back to Top]
$25,000 per day, per violation.

Can a person go to jail for violations of 15A NCAC 2D .1900?  [Back to Top]
Yes. North Carolina General Statute 143.215.6 provides, in addition to the civil penalty mentioned above, a fine up to $25,000 per day of violation, imprisonment up to six months, or both. These sanctions are provided for persons who willfully or negligently violate any environmental standard pursuant to NCGS 143-215. Repeat offenders are subject to fines and imprisonment terms double these amounts.

Who can enforce the criminal provisions contained in 143.215.6?  [Back to Top]
Any duly sworn law enforcement officer of an agency having jurisdiction in North Carolina.

If I conduct open burning in compliance with 15A NCAC 2D .1900, can I still be sued?  [Back to Top]
Yes.

Can municipalities and local air quality programs make rules the same or similar to those contained in 15A NCAC 2D .1900 or incorporate 2D .1900 rules by reference?  [Back to Top]
Yes, as long as local rules are at least as stringent as 15A NCAC 2D .1900.

What area of North Carolina does 15A NCAC 2D .1900 apply?  [Back to Top]
The rule applies to all areas unless the area is served by a duly certified local air quality agency. Currently Forsyth, Buncombe, and Mecklenburg counties have such programs. Contact those counties for details.

Can I get a copy of the open burning regulations from my Forest Service burn permit agent?  [Back to Top]
Yes. A summary of these regulations is printed on the back of your burn permit. The burn permit agent should also have handouts that summarize these regulations.

I am aware that an illegal fire is burning on my property but I did not cause it. Am I allowed to let the fire continue burning because I did not cause it?  [Back to Top]
No. You cannot cause, allow, or permit illegal open burning.