Illegal Burning Pollutes Statewide

Illegal Burning Pollutes Statewide
Illegal Burning Pollutes Statewide
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Minnesota – -( Illegal garbage burning—in open fires and burn barrels—is a persistent source of pollution in Minnesota, according to a feature story in the May–June Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine.

Burning garbage can release toxins into the surrounding air, soil and water, Henry Fisher of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) told the magazine. These toxins often include dioxin, a long-lasting carcinogen that can enter fish, wildlife, farm animals and ultimately humans as it works its way up the food chain.

“The open burning of household waste … contributes to 50 percent of the known dioxins generated in the state,” Fisher said.

Small-scale backyard burning of household trash has a big cumulative impact, according to the story, “A Burning Problem” by managing editor Keith Goetzman. The modern waste stream contains chemicals, paints, coatings, foils and other compounds that make trash more toxic than it used to be, especially when burned. More than 33 percent of rural Minnesota residents said they burn trash in a 2010 MPCA survey.

Garbage fires also start many wildfires every year. Spring is fire season, and spring-cleaning may lead people to throw away and burn unwanted things. In the story, a DNR conservation officer and an MPCA inspector name some of the things they’ve found in illegal fires: plastics, rubber, furniture, mattresses, appliances, even a horse carcass.

Burning garbage has been illegal in Minnesota since the 1980s. Burn barrels built to legal specifications can be used to burn yard waste but never garbage. Minnesotans who suspect a potential burning violation can report it by calling the MPCA at 800-657-3864 or the TIP hotline at 800-652-9093.

Minnesota Conservation Volunteer is a reader-supported source of outdoor information and ideas. To subscribe to the print magazine, read it online, and peruse the online archive, go to Or subscribe by calling 888-646-6367.

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Scotty Gunn

If they didn’t charge so much to throw stuff away, maybe people wouldn’t burn it.


the people burning trash free of charge is breathing the same air as every body else, and theyre not complaining


Burning trash is perfectly legal in Pa. when the “rules” are followed.



Mike Murray

Oh, and it’s been illegal since the 80’s. How is that working out? Like so many other things, just make it illegal and that will fix the problem. Sounds like gun grabber thinking.


oh but its ok to put out d-con rat poison to go thru the food chain several times..

John Carr

Very good point freewill.


Is it okay to burn old lumber?

Wild Bill

No, Jamie. But I am glad to see people burning garbage in socialist Mn. That means that at least some people and law enforcement are refusing to comply with government over regulation.


It is interesting that whole grain lumber is illegal to burn but the unmilled tree it comes from is legal to burn. One can understand not burning plywood, particle board and such with glues but a 2×4 is no different than a fir tree. Some make a claim there is lead in the steel used to make the nails. Sure, maybe a slight amount but the nails do not burn.
This burning is encouraged by the regulations and fees required by solid waste dumps.
We should be burying more trash. Landfills are huge carbon sequestration systems.


… and this “volunteer” group has a .gov website funded by the taxpayer.
Brave New World – snitch on your neighbors!
Glad I’m in The South

Matt in Oklahoma

This is junk. Some guy burning trash and not paying .gov a fee isn’t an issue in comparison to illegal aliens, refugees and parade throwers in pollution creation.
Your people driving around the cities with factories and plants smoking bongs flying planes etc etc are a whole lot worse than some guy cleaning up his place.
Go do so thing useful like catch a real bad guy maybe even a terrorist.


Minnesota communists always encourage reporting your neighbors. Unless of course your neighbors are Somali Muslims.


I call BS. More then 50%. Sounds more like a government agency stumping for its own importance. Living and driving around the Twin Cities, the near constant smog over the city, that’s not done by the evil burn barrels. Said smog is easily seen around sunrise. Just need to get in an area where you can see a horizon. Government seeks its own for power and profit. There’s not an agency I`ll trust with out verifiable proof. And I make that statement because I have yet to see those in government and government agencys themselves held responsible when they are… Read more »


Amen Wade! In my 78 years I have witnessed the whole spectrum of this item is going to kill you in 20 years and lo and behold 30 years have passed and not a peep about -We got it Wrong- Instead we get a substitution with look over here this is going to kill 90% of the population by 2010 but cannot explain the population increase. Then overpopulation is going to cause half the world population to starve to death because we cannot grow enough food. Wrong again. Ideology without proof is just FEEL GOOD ideology. My BFF in 1950… Read more »