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Energy and Environment Cabinet

Air Quality

Division for Air Quality
Open Burning

In Kentucky, it is never legal to burn household trash other than uncoated paper products. Aerosol cans, plastic, tires, food waste, coated wire, motor oil, painted or treated lumber, and many other materials create toxic fumes and ash that are hazardous to human health and the environment. Children, the elderly and those with existing health problems are particularly vulnerable to smoke from open burning. To learn before you burn, or to report an illegal open burn, call Diana Davidson at 502-782-6592 with the Division for Air Quality, or e-mail

The "Open Burning Learn Before You Burn" brochure provides additional information on the rules and regulations for open burning.  (See Quick Links).  Please note that the 888-BURN-LAW number has been changed to 502-782-6592.

    Open Burning Could Hurt You or Others

Air pollution from open burning can cause serious health problems and damage the environment. That's why there are state rules to control air pollution caused by open burning.

When you light that trash pile, 7 percent to 9 percent of what you burn ends up as air pollution, and some pollutants are highly toxic. Pollutants include particulate matter, dioxin, heavy metals and arsenic among many others. What we burn today is different than what was burned in the past. Many items contain low levels of chlorine, that when burned release a pollutant called dioxin, a toxic chemical.

The smoke from your fire may not bother you but it could be a real problem and a serious health threat for your neighbors, especially if they have any respiratory diseases.

It's the law

Violating state air quality regulations could result in a fine of up to $25,000 per day.

Kentucky Division for Air Quality rules allow certain types of open burning: campfires, barbecues, small fires for warmth, burning plant matter from clearing your own property and wood bonfires on festive occasions.

It is illegal to burn: tires and other rubber products; wire; treated, painted or finished wood; plastics; garbage; heavy oils; asphalt materials; building materials, especially those containing asbestos; paints; and agricultural and household chemicals.

In addition to Division for Air Quality rules, other state and local regulations may apply. The Kentucky Division of Forestry and the State Fire Marshal's Office have regulations aimed at ensuring a blaze does not spread. Many city and county governments have ordinances regarding outdoor fires. Before starting a fire, check with your county or city government about restrictions that apply to your community. Another source of information is the Kentucky Division for Air Quality regional office or the solid waste coordinator in your area.