With autumn leaves beginning to fall, DNREC’s Division of Air Quality reminds residents that burning leaves is prohibited statewide.


With autumn leaves beginning to fall, DNREC’s Division of Air Quality reminds residents that burning leaves is prohibited statewide. The leaf burning ban, in effect since February 1995, is important to protect people from harmful chemicals that are produced by open burning.
 
Leaf burning produces a considerable amount of airborne particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and at least seven carcinogens. Some of these compounds react with sunlight and chemicals in the air to produce ground-level ozone, a respiratory irritant particularly dangerous to children and the elderly.
 
In addition to the leaf burning ban, burning refuse such as old lumber, trash or garbage, grass, and tree stumps, is also prohibited year-round. Campfires, cooking fires, and bonfires, meeting size restrictions, are legal year-round, unless prohibited by local, town, or county ordinances; however, only clean, unpainted wood or charcoal is to be used in these fires.
 
Burning of cut or fallen branches, limbs or shrubbery trim from a residence is allowed daily, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Oct. 1 to April 30, except when the State Fire Marshal issues a ban on all outdoor burning. Open burning for agricultural or prescribed purposes and for intentional structure fires for firefighter training requires written notification to DNREC.
 
For more information on the statewide leaf burning ban, open burning requirements and air quality, contact Tom Postell at 302-739-9402 or visit, www.awm.delaware.gov/Info/Pages/OpenBurningMain.aspx.
 
Illegal burning continues to be among the most common complaints handled by DNREC’s Environmental Crimes Unit. Since 2007, more than 2,300 illegal burning complaints have been investigated and more than 300 citations issued. Citizens can report illegal burning by calling 1-800-662-8802, and Verizon Wireless phone customers in Delaware can reach DNREC’s Environmental Complaint Line by calling #DNR, toll and airtime-free.
 
Delaware residents have several options to help manage leaves and other yard waste.

Handling it yourself by composting, including use of a mulching mower. Arranging to have someone else manage your yard waste either by hiring a landscaper or making arrangements to have a waste hauler remove it. Developing a community-wide solution by creating your town or community’s own yard waste site.

Two DNREC yard waste drop-off sites are available to New Castle County residents as a cost free option to dispose of leaves and other yard waste.

DNREC’s web site includes more information on the locations and site hours for the Polly Drummond Hill Road site near Newark and the DART Mid-County site near Bear.

Information on options for managing yard waste is posted on DNREC’s web site, www.dnrec.delaware.gov/yardwaste/Pages/Default.aspx or contact Jim Short, 302-739-9403.