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Burning Household Waste

May contain: bonfire, fire, and flame

Burning household waste is unhealthy:  Smoke from burning household waste is unhealthy to breathe, particularly for small children, pregnant women, older adults and people with asthma or other respiratory ailments:

  • Burn barrels are inefficient and pollute because they create low temperature fires, receive little oxygen and produce a lot of smoke. Many household products, such as bleached paper products and some plastics contain chlorine. When burned, chlorine creates dioxin. Exposure to dioxin is associated with cancer and birth defects.
  • Many household products, such as slick colored papers and synthetic inks, release heavy metals when burned. Human contact with heavy metals is also linked to cancer and birth defects.  Many household products contain chemicals such as hydrochloric acid which are known to irritate the skin and eyes.  Burn barrels produce many toxic air pollutants. Virtually all of the pollutants are released into the air close to ground level where they are easily inhaled
  • Burning household waste harms the environment Pollutants released when household waste is burned eventually end up back on the ground and in the water and can build up to dangerously high levels in plants, animals, and people. Health effects after exposure to these pollutants can include cancer, deformed offspring, and reproductive and immune system failure.


Regulations on Burning Household Waste:

  • State of Oregon regulations prohibit the open burning of any material that creates dense smoke or noxious odors.
  • This includes the following materials:
    •  Plastics, like foam cups, meat trays and egg containers
    • Asbestos 
    • Tires or other rubber products
    •  Garbage and food waste
    • Wire insulation
    •  Waste oil and other petroleum products
    •  Automobile parts, including frames
    •  Dead animals
    • In addition, burning household waste is prohibited altogether in certain areas by DEQ rules or local city and county ordinances. Additional information on regulations regarding burning household waste in Oregon can be found in Oregon Administrative Rules, Chapter 340, Division 264. These rules are available on DEQ’s website