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State-wide burn ban begins Friday
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The Georgia Environmental Protection Agency's open burning ban will begin its nearly 5-month duration at the end of this week.

Beginning May 1 and ending Sept. 30, the EPD's ban will be in effect for 54 Georgia counties.

The open burning ban has been in effect since 2005.

"The open burning ban prohibits citizens and businesses from burning yard and land-clearing debris during the months of May through September," said Judson Turner, director of the EPD, in a press release. "This restriction is in addition to a ban on burning household garbage that exists year-round throughout all of Georgia."

The EPD reminds citizens that these bans are in place for health benefits.

"Smoke from fires contains chemicals and pollutants that may negatively impact a person's health," Judson said.

"Burning yard waste releases nitrogen oxides and particle pollution into the air. Both pollutants can contribute to lung and heart disease."

Ground-level ozone is most commonly produced in the heat of the summer when nitrogen oxides combine with fumes from fuels, paints and vegetation.

Ground-level ozone can cause inflammation to the lungs, as well as other health problems.

Particle pollution is made up of extremely small particles that can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Burning household garbage, banned year-round in Georgia, releases even more dangerous pollution.

May through September is a time of year when people, particularly children, are more likely to be outdoors.

It is also the time of year when ground-level ozone and particle pollution levels are generally higher.

In December 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized an update to the national air quality standards for fine particle pollution (PM2.5), lowering the annual health standard to a more stringent 12 micrograms per cubic meter, down from 15 micrograms per cubic meter.

With this lower standard, and because particle pollution values are typically highest in the summer, the positive effects of the summer burn ban become more significant.

Even with a more protective standard, monitoring data shows that the air quality in Georgia is improving, according to Keith Bentley, Georgia EPD Air Protection Branch Chief.

"This is very good news for Georgia," he said. "This success is confirmation that the clean air strategies we have in place in Georgia, including the open burning ban, are working."

Some actions such as campfires and agricultural activities are exempt.

For more information about the open burn ban, visit or call the EPD District Office at (770) 387-4900.