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Open Burning

Although open burning has been a common trash disposal method in parts of Illinois for years, the practice can potentially have unwanted health effects. When burned, all garbage (even paper) releases toxic chemicals, such as benzene, styrene oxide, formaldehyde, dioxins, and furans. Inhalation of these chemicals can be harmful to your health. Long-term exposure to certain pollutants can harm the lungs, kidneys, nervous system & liver, and short-term exposure can aggravate asthma and affect other respiratory conditions. As a result, finding a safe alternative to open burning is encouraged.

If you live in any town or within a mile of a town with a population of 1,000 or more, it is illegal to burn anything except landscape waste, although local ordinances may limit the burning of landscape waste. Landscape waste is only allowed to be burned on the premises where it is generated so long as a local ordinance does not limit the burning of it.

If you do not live in a town or within a mile of a town with a population of 1,000 people or more, it is legal to burn household waste that is generated on the property as a result of normal household activities, except for food, food scraps, and food packaging. Burning trash may be legal in these areas, but it is an unhealthy way to dispose of trash. Please take a safe and healthy approach to waste disposal.

Open burning of commercial/trade waste by business, industry and government institutions is illegal in the State of Illinois, with the exception of landscape waste generated on the property or agricultural waste under limited circumstances. Local laws my limit open burning of landscape waste.

Waste that can never be burned:

  • Commercial Waste
  • Food and associated packaging
  • Furniture
  • Construction/demolition debris
  • Tires

What Local Units of Government Can Do

Promote Alternatives to Open Burning

  • Establish and promote free or low-cost drop-off centers for residents who want to self-haul or recycle
  • Create a burn barrel exchange program to provide disposal service discounts to participants, while educating them regarding disposal alternatives
  • Distribute information on public or commercial collection, recycling, and disposal services

Educate Residents

  • Conduct outreach programs to change behavior, such as print or radio ads and brochures.

Regulate and Enforce

  • Establish and enforce effective regulations and ordinances
  • Train county police, fire marshals, and health and environmental inspectors on local ordinances and authorize them to issue fines, as well as educate residents

Model Ordinances

  • Local governments can use this Model Ordinance for developing their own local ordinances on open burning.

Related Information and Resources