Open Burning - Is it Legal?

The legality of open burning depends on where and what you burn.

  • Inside City/Town Limits: Some towns have banned outdoor burning altogether, and others have enacted local ordinances that limit outdoor burning. If you live within city limits, always check with your local government before you burn anything outdoors.
  • Commercial and Residential Builders: It is against the law to burn any waste from commercial construction sites. As for single-family residential builders, it is illegal to burn any materials outdoors April 1 - October 30 (ozone season). The rest of the year (November 1 - March 30) laws governing open burning by single family residential construction sites include a number of restrictions. If you're building a single-family residence, consult South Carolina's Open Burning Regulation (61-62.2, Prohibition of Open Burning).

What can I burn (if allowed by local ordinance) or NOT burn outdoors in South Carolina?

Yard trimmings
Outdoor fireplaces (using only untreated wood)
Campfires (using only untreated wood)

Paper and cardboard
Roofing materials
Heating oil
Tires and rubber products

Household cleaners
Farm chemicals
Electrical wires
Insulation and duct work
Treated wood
Painted/stained wood

NOTE: Using burn barrels to burn garbage also is illegal.

Report Illegal Open Burning

Please report illegal open burning of items such as tires, plastic, copper wire, and asbestos covered materials to the  appropriate Environmental Affairs Regional Office as soon as possible. (Obviously, if a fire of any nature gets out of control, call 911 first.)

You can also report illegal open burning of land clearing or yard debris, but most of the time these situations do not constitute an immediate threat, so you can report the incident to DHEC the next business day.

Why is Open Burning a Problem?

Open burning — burning anything outdoors — can harm your health and that of your neighbors.
DHEC discourages open burning in all circumstances. In some situations, it's illegal and you may be charged with a high fine, even if it's your first violation.

Open burning:

  • Releases unfiltered and untreated toxic pollutants and particles directly into the air at ground level, where they can be easily inhaled;
  • Produces ash that can contain toxic metals such as mercury, lead, chromium and arsenic. People sometimes scatter the ash or bury it in their backyard garden. There, vegetables absorb and accumulate the toxic metals and children playing in the yard can ingest the contaminated soil; and
  • Frequently causes brush, residential and forest fires particularly during drought.

Instead of burning household garbage outside, dispose of it properly. Whenever possible, recycle and compost waste.

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