The annual statewide burn ban — restricting yard and debris burning — will begin Sunday, affecting Georgians in 54 counties, including 12 metro Atlanta communities.
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) enacts the ban during the summer months, when increases in ground level ozone may create health risks such as lung problems and heart disease.
From May 1 until Sept. 30, open burning of yard and land-clearing debris is prohibited where certain matter pollutants and chemicals from smoke are more likely to combine with emissions from vehicles and industrial activities, according to a press release from the Georgia Forestry Commission.
"That's (higher ozone levels) more likely to occur in cities, where there's more asphalt and concrete than open green space and trees to help cool and filter air," Frank Sorrells, chief of protection for the forestry commission, said in a statement. "The risk of wildfire also may be high in summer, so our agencies are closely monitoring air quality and weather conditions for the safety of all Georgians."
Metro Atlanta counties affected by the ban include:
Residents in Georgia counties not included in the annual burn ban will continue to be required to secure a burn permit from the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) before burning outdoors. Permits can be secured online at by calling 1-877-OK2-BURN or contacting their county GFC office. For more information about the summer burn ban, visit visit GaTrees.org.