Burn ban begins Friday

In an effort to protect air quality, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management has issued an open burn ban for 12 counties, including Shelby County.

The ban, which goes into effect Friday and expires Oct. 31, prohibits the open burning of wood, tree trimmings, brush and debris generated by land clearing and construction/demolition activities.

Other counties under the ban include Baldwin, DeKalb, Etowah, Jefferson, Lawrence, Madison, Mobile, Montgomery, Morgan, Russell and Talladega.

“The burn ban is one of many tools that the Department utilizes to maintain air quality in Alabama,” said ADEM Director Trey Glenn in a news release. “ADEM administers a wide-range of environmental programs under the federal Clean Air Act and is continuously working to ensure that all Alabama citizens have clean air to breathe.”

Glenn said the ban is in effect annually for the warmer months to combat the formation of ground-level ozone and the generation of fine-particulate matter, which is found in the smoke from the open burning of vegetation and wood.

Though beneficial in the upper atmosphere, ozone is a respiratory irritant at ground level. In addition, fine-particulate matter can travel deeply into the lungs and cause respiratory distress.

ADEM suggests composting yard waste and using leaves, straw and grass clippings for mulch as an alternative to open burning. The department contends using mulch in flower beds and gardens improves air quality and conserves water.