End Open Burning in Buncombe County
End Open Burning in Buncombe County
Why this petition matters
The Open Burning Rule is one of North Carolina's oldest air quality regulations, first adopted in 1971. The rule prohibits much outdoor burning and sets conditions for allowable fires. Under the rule, it is always illegal to burn trash and other non-vegetative materials. Only leaves, branches or other plant growth can be burned. Buncombe County currently has an open burn policy mirroring the general North Carolina policy. No one can burn on bad air days as determined by Asheville-Buncombe Air Quality or Dry/windy ban days as determined by the Fire Marshall. Burning is prohibited altogether when public pickup of brush is provided by local government as in the town of Weaverville. Fire pits are different than open burning but still subject to burn ban days.
Open burning has many adverse health and environmental effects. Smoke from burning vegetation and organic materials contains smoke, toxic gases and particulate matter that is small enough to enter the lungs. A single residential fire or widespread residential fires -- such as the burning of leaves and yard debris during fall -- can adversely affect the health of family, friends, neighbors, and your entire community. When wood and leaves are burned, they
Irritate the eyes, nose, and throat
Cause rashes, nausea, and headaches
Increase the risk of heart attacks and abnormal heart rhythms
Cause or aggravate respiratory ailments including asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, bronchiolitis, lung infections and allergies
Cause serious diseases (e.g., cancer)
People with existing health conditions, the elderly, and young children are especially vulnerable to the ill health effects of smoke.
Environmental effects of open burning produce compounds toxic to the environment including nitrogen oxides, VOCs, carbon monoxide and particle pollution that are partially responsible for acid rain and contribute to global warming, ozone depletion and the formation of smog. Black carbon and particulate matter pollute our land, streams and wells.
Who is doing most of the burning? According to a local NC Agricultural Extension farm specialist, it is not our local farmers. They are primarily small acreage farmers practicing conservation agriculture, a tenet of which is no land burning, as it kills healthy soil organisms, depletes organic nutrients and is toxic to well water. Our local Air Quality official noticed an increase in burn complaints in 2011, when NC modified law, allowing land clearing burn set back to be reduced from 1000 feet of a residence to 500 feet. The local experience is that most complaints come from burns that generate a lot of smoke and complaints are associated with large developments and subdivisions
Desirable homeowners alternatives to burning include shredding, chipping and/or composting. Chippers and shredders can be rented locally. Land clearing debris (trees, stumps, limbs, etc.) can also be chipped , shredded or ground up on site and reused as mulch, erosion control, or on walking paths. Several companies in North Carolina offer mobile, on-site grinding services. Debris can be hauled to a commercial or municipal processing/grinding/composting operation. Air burners, that contain fumes and generate energy are becoming more advanced and affordable.
Buncombe County population is growing rapidly and becoming more residential. Lenient open burn policies are increasingly impacting the health of our rising population and the environment.
The undersigned want to see an end to open burning in Buncombe County: