Because it emits pollution directly into the air and the environment and is a public health and environmental concern, burning is a regulated activity in Idaho. Burning may be restricted or prohibited by federal, tribal, state, or local government laws, regulations, rules, and ordinances.
Open outdoor burning is any burning outdoors that does not pass through a stack, duct, or chimney. This includes outdoor residential, crop residue, and prescribed burning. Open burning also applies to material that is burned in burn barrels, air curtain destructors, or other such devices.
Health Impacts of Smoke
Smoke from burning contains small airborne particles that can become lodged in our lungs, making breathing difficult and leading to more serious short-term and chronic health problems for certain sensitive populations such as small children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with asthma or other respiratory ailments.
Sensitivity to smoke depends on the level and duration of exposure, age, individual susceptibility, including the presence or absence of lung and heart disease, and other factors. Most healthy individuals recover quickly from smoke exposure.
Common household trash such as plastics, metals, junk mail, cardboard, newsprint, magazines, and some types of packaging release toxic pollutants when burned. Some of these pollutants—certain dioxin, furan, and other chlorine-containing compounds—can cause cancer, birth defects, and eye and skin irritation. Members of households who use burn barrels are typically at the highest risk for exposure to these toxic compounds in the smoke.
Burn Restrictions and Bans
The Rules for Control of Air Pollution in Idaho (IDAPA 58.01.01.600–623) outline the types of allowable, restricted, and prohibited open burning in the state. (Local ordinances may further restrict or prohibit open burning.) The state rules also spell out the procedures for issuing burn bans restricting outdoor burning and the use of wood stoves and fireplaces when an area's air quality is degraded and human health may be adversely impacted. Learn more.
Crop Residue Burning
The crop residue burning (CRB) program is designed to enable growers to burn under certain conditions while protecting public health from smoke impacts. The program is managed by DEQ on lands other than the five Indian reservations in Idaho. Learn more.
Residential backyard or outdoor burning is a form of open burning and includes fires in burn barrels. Residential outdoor burning is permissible in some areas of Idaho under specified conditions. Learn more.
Trade waste includes materials generated during construction, renovation, demolition, or repair of buildings and any waste generated by confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Burning of trade waste is prohibited in Idaho. Learn more.
Wildland fires are fires that occur in underdeveloped areas including public forests and rangelands, woodlots, and private timberlands. Learn more.
DEQ's statewide wood stove program encourages the use of cleaner-burning wood stoves. It is designed to help homeowners burn more efficiently and create less pollution. Learn more.