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Source: WNYT.com

New burn ban set to go into effect

Posted: October 15, 2009
Originally Published: October 14, 2009

SCHAGHTICOKE - In order to reduce air pollutants and prevent wildfires, the state Department of Environmental Conservation is making a change this week. It's implementing a burn ban for household trash in all communities, regardless of population.

Some people may have spent Columbus Day cleaning up their yard and burning leaves and branches to get rid of them. You can still do that, but don't throw in any old toys lying around the yard.

"People need to understand that burning garbage is wrong," said William Cooke, a lobbyist for the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

"If you have to spend a couple extra dollars to protect children's health, spend it," he added.

Burn barrels dot rural parts of the Capital Region and elsewhere. They can still be used in areas with population under 20,000 to burn brush and other yard debris, but as of Wednesday the state will not allow the open burning of residential waste in all communities, regardless of population.

The new open burning ban is for household trash, plastics, treated and painted wood and bleached, glossy and colored paper.

The DEC held hearings last year. It found that burning garbage at low temperatures -- like those in barrels -- release harmful emissions including known carcinogens.

Cooke applauds the move.

"We have an epidemic of childhood asthma in this state and across the nation. We have worked on federal regulations to help address air quality, but there's stuff you and I can do. We can stop burning garbage and it starts Wednesday," he said.

Exceptions to the ban include ceremonial or celebratory bonfires, the disposal of a flag or religious item and individual fires to control invasive plant and insect species.