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Georgia's annual burn ban begins this weekend

The ban runs through the summer months and affects 54 counties

ATLANTA — Georgia's summer open burn ban begins Sunday, May 1st, affecting 54 counties around Atlanta and the northern part of the state.

According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resource's Environmental Protection Division, the ban will last until Sept. 30.

The ban prohibits "citizens and businesses from burning yard and land-clearing debris." A full-time ban on burning garbage also is in place in Georgia.

“These restrictions are required by the state Environmental Protection Division so less particulate matter is released into the air,” said Georgia Forestry Commission Protection Chief, Frank Sorrells. “The risk of wildfire is also high at this time, and the Georgia Forestry Commission will be closely monitoring fire activity to keep Georgians and their property safe.”

In Atlanta during summer months, burning of fossil fuels and other combustible materials can lead to higher ozone levels, reaching unhealthy levels. Ozone is formed when volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides react in the presence of sunlight. Poor air quality and high ozone levels have been linked to lung and heart disease in humans. 

According to the Georgia Forestry Commission, humans are the number one cause of wildfires in Georgia. By enacting the annual summer burn ban, this helps to lower the risk of wildfires.

The 54 counties affected can be found here.

According to the EPD, exemptions to the burn ban include: 

Some exceptions include: 

  • Agricultural burning exemption
  • Forestry "prescribed burning" exemption*
  • Campfires or barbeques
  • Fire-fighting training exemption, provided appropriate permit is issued
  • Operation of open flame equipment exemption
  • Explosive disposal in accordance with U.S. Department of Labor Safety Regulations

*Not exempted in the 19 county metro Atlanta non-attainment area: Bartow, Carroll, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Newton, Paulding, Spalding, Rockdale and Walton.