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Alternatives to Outdoor Burning

Why smoke is a concern

In parts of urban and rural Oregon, burning waste continues to be the disposal method of choice for parts of the population.  Smoke from outdoor burning pollutes the air, causing serious health problems such as asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and lung cancer.  Children, the elderly, and those with breathing problems can be most affected by poor air quality. Because of problems created by this activity, open burning is restricted in selected parts of the state based on population and availability of alternatives.

Choose alternatives to open burning

  • Recycle paper products when possible
  • Dispose of waste at a landfill
  • Compost yard debris and kitchen scraps
  • Reuse old lumber
  • Buy a chipper and use chips for mulch and compost.
  • Work with neighbors to organize a neighborhood cleanup day.
  • Take hazardous materials, including oil-based paints, solvents, garden chemicals and car fluids to a hazardous waste collection site. Burning these materials is illegal and extremely dangerous.
  • For more information on disposing of these items visit METRO's Find a Recycler page.

If you must burn, tips for what to do

Use good burning practices to promote efficient burning and prevent excessive smoke:
  • Assure all combustible material is dried to the extent practicable. This includes covering the combustible material when practicable to protect it from moisture including precipitation or dew.
  • Loosely stack or windrow the combustible material to eliminate dirt, rocks or other noncombustible material and to promote an adequate air supply to the burning pile.
  • Periodically restack or feed the burning pile to ensure combustion is robust and completed efficiently.

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