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[IDEM] To burn, or not to burn: IDEM reminds Hoosiers of alternatives to incinerating yard waste
Start Date: 10/28/2013 All Day
End Date: 10/28/2013
Entry Description

While some parts of the state allow burning of yard waste, there are still several restrictions in place

It’s that time of the year again; when leaves turn shades of bright orange and red, then fall to the ground, covering your lawn. The best thing to do with fallen leaves is to mulch or compost them for use as fertilizer on your lawn or garden. You can also use a wood chipper to mulch leaves and fallen branches.

Why does the state restrict what can be burned by residents? Because smoke from the open burning of trash or yard waste contains harmful pollutants, some of which are highly toxic, and can harm your family's health. Because this pollution doesn't stay on your property, it can also harm your neighbors’ health—especially those with asthma, allergies or emphysema. This pollution can also be bad for the environment because it contributes to ground level ozone and fine particle pollution.

However, if no alternatives exist, and you decide to burn your yard waste, there are limitations on how that can be done.

The burning must take place in a well-vented container (a burn barrel is not well-vented), and only leaves, tree branches and twigs can be burned. A properly vented container keeps the fire under control while allowing oxygen to feed the flames and reduce excessive smoke. A screen on top prevents ash and other debris from drifting into the air. Materials, such as refuse, household trash and outdoor waste, plastics, tires, building materials or other debris, treated wood, asbestos or any other non-vegetation material cannot be burned. If the fire creates a pollution problem or becomes a nuisance or fire hazard, the fire must be extinguished. Burning of any kind in Lake, Porter, Clark, and Floyd counties is prohibited.

Some cities, towns or counties may have local ordinances that are stricter than the state rules, and some communities may ban burning altogether. If so, residents must comply with those ordinances even if the fire is allowed under state law. You should check with your local fire department, health department, city, or county government officials to see if local bans or restrictions are in place.

To learn more about open burning, contact IDEM at (888) 209-8892 or visit the IDEM website at

About IDEM
IDEM ( implements federal and state regulations regarding the environment. Through compliance assistance, incentive programs and educational outreach, the agency encourages and aids businesses and citizens in protecting Hoosiers and our environment. 


Contact Information:
Name: Dan Goldblatt
Phone: 317-232-8499
Entry Type:
Press Release
Entry Category:
  • Media Advisory
  • Category:
  • Business & Agriculture
  • Agency Name
    Environmental Management, Indiana Department of

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