Release 02-16      

February 21, 2002


Jerry Martin
Gennet Paauwe
(916) 322-2990
Outdoor Burning of Household Garbage to be Banned

-- Today, the California Environmental Protection Agency's Air Resources Board (ARB) accepted a proposal to ban the outdoor burning of household garbage at home by January 1, 2004.

“This measure will reduce one of the largest known uncontrolled sources of dioxin, the most carcinogenic air pollutant known to the state,” said ARB Chairman Dr. Alan Lloyd. “We are especially concerned with the chemical’s effect on infants and children.  Damage to their developing immune systems can lower their defenses against other diseases.”

Today’s garbage is full of complex chemicals. They reside in plastics, laminates, metals, dyes, and bleached and colored papers. When burned these chemicals create and throw into the air poisons that can linger up to 15 years in our environment. This ban will also reduce emissions of benzene, 1,3-butadiene, PAHs, PCBs and particulate matter statewide. The burning of vegetation will still be allowed under this ban.

The U.S. EPA has determined that burning waste products at home is one of the largest uncontrolled sources of dioxins in the United States. Currently state officials estimate that 108,000 California households burn some or all of their waste. Presently in the 35 air districts in California, six allow all forms of burning, 21 permit limited household garbage burning and eight prohibit any burning other than natural vegetation. The ban will affect most of these households, although some exemptions are included for very rural areas with low population densities. In these low density areas, paper and cardboard will be exempted from the ban, with a provision to allow the exemption to be reviewed at a later date. For more information, click here.

“Residential waste burning, a vestige of rural California, is a means of disposing the accumulation of daily life. But, while burning our garbage may have been part of historic California, ARB has found that due to the chemical makeup of today's consumer products we can no longer burn indiscriminately,” Dr. Lloyd said.

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB’s mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

The energy challenge facing California is real. Every Californian needs to take immediate action to reduce energy consumption. For a list of simple ways you can reduce demand and cut your energy cost, see our website at

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