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Burn ban restricts 12 Alabama counties

Special to the Enquirer 

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management recently announced that 12 Alabama counties are now under an annual warm weather ban on open burning as part of the effort to protect air quality in areas of the state that have had a history of air pollution problems – and that list includes Morgan County 

The burn ban, which runs from May 1 through Oct. 31 each year, covers Baldwin, DeKalb, Etowah, Jefferson, Lawrence, Madison, Mobile, Montgomery, Morgan, Russell, Shelby and Talladega counties. Its purpose is to combat the formation of ground-level ozone and the generation of fine particulate matter during warm weather months.  

“Prohibiting the open burning of wood, tree trimmings, brush and debris generated by land clearing and construction or demolition activities is an effective way to reduce the formation of ground-level ozone, which is formed when volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides react in the presence of heat and sunlight,” said Ron Gore, chief of ADEM’s Air Division.  

Though beneficial in the upper atmosphere, ozone is a respiratory irritant when found at ground level.  

State law says “only vegetation and untreated wood” can be burned, Gore said. Non-vegetative materials – such as oils, plastics, vinyl, paper, garbage, trash and treated and painted wood – cannot be burned anywhere in the state at any time, he added 

The burn ban is one of many efforts the ADEM uses to maintain air quality in Alabama. The environmental programs administered by ADEM under the federal Clean Air Act support the overarching goal of ensuring all Alabama citizens have clean air to breath.  

Gore said the 12-county burn ban enacted by ADEM is separate from no-burn orders declared by the Alabama Forestry Commission to reduce the dangers of wildfires during dry periods. After rains and cooler temperatures this week, the Forestry Commission downgraded a noburn order it had issued for counties in north Alabama to a fire alert and removed a no-burn order issued for counties in south Alabama.  

A fire alert means the forestry commission restricts issuing permits for outdoor burning.  

For more information about the burn ban, go to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management website, www.adem.alabama.gov.