Just because you can burn yard waste doesn’t mean you should.
Burning at any time adds to the air pollution levels in your local neighborhood, and residents are encouraged to seek alternatives to burning throughout the year, according to the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA).
Still, residents who plan to burn their yard debris may do so after Oct. 1 in much of rural Thurston County after acquiring a residential burn permit from their local fire district, or online from ORCAA (https://www.orcaa.org/outdoor-burning/thurston-county-residential-burn-permit/). All outdoor burning of residential materials in Thurston County is prohibited July 15 through October 1 each year. Furthermore, outdoor burning is prohibited year-round for residents within the cities of Olympia, Tumwater and Lacey, as well as for county residents within the Urban Growth Area (UGA) boundary.
Residents must remember the only material they may legally burn is natural vegetation gathered on site. State law prohibits the burning of garbage and home-repair debris. Burn barrels of any kind are also prohibited by state law.
Unregulated outdoor burning of any kind can contribute to poor air quality, but burning garbage and other debris—even scraps of milled wood products—is particularly problematic. Most household garbage contains a great deal of plastics, chemicals, coatings and chemically treated materials. When burned, this garbage and waste material releases toxic fumes and particles into the air. This pollution can cause disease ranging from eye and respiratory irritation to potential cancers.
The Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA) encourages all residents to explore options such as chipping of woody debris, and composting of leaves and grass clippings rather than burning. “We all share the air,” said ORCAA Spokesman Dan Nelson. “You’ll be doing yourself, and your neighbors, a favor by composting your ‘burn’ pile.”
For more information on the outdoor burning rules throughout ORCAA’s jurisdiction, visit http://www.orcaa.org.