Basic questions and answers about open burning
What is open burning?
Open burning is the burning of any material where smoke and other emissions are released directly into the air. A more technical definition can be found in the Kansas Air Quality Regulations (28-19-200), which states that an "open burning operation means the burning of any materials in which contaminants resulting from combustion are emitted directly into the ambient air without passing through a stack or chimney from an enclosed chamber. A chamber shall be considered enclosed when only those apertures, ducts, stacks, flues or chimneys that are required to supply combustion air and to permit the escape of exhaust gases are open during the combustion process."
Why is open burning regulated?
Open burning is regulated in an effort to prevent the release of contaminants into the air. Burning typically releases very fine particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and potentially hazardous air pollutants. These pollutants can promote an increased risk of cancer and lung disease, especially in children and the elderly. Open burning operations also contribute to haze and visibility problems
Who regulates open burning?
Although the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Bureau of Air (BOA) regulates open burning, you must also check with your local authority, such as the city office or fire department. Both KDHE and the local authority must allow or approve your open burning operation.
What kind of open burning is allowed by KDHE without requesting approval?
(Remember, your local authority must still approve it.)
- Residents burning trees/brush, yard waste, and normal household trash generated on-site (materials from renovations, construction, or demolition cannot be burned)
- Recreational purposes (cooking or for ceremonial reasons)
- Agricultural purposes (crop, range, pasture, wildlife, or watershed management), assuming the following conditions are met:
- Local fire control authority has been notified (if required)
- Burning will not create a traffic or airport safety hazard
- The person conducting the burn will ensure burning is supervised until fire is extinguished.
Who is not allowed to conduct open burning?
With the exception of a few types of businesses recently granted permission through this 2019 policy, most businesses can not conduct any open burning, including trees and brush, unless they have received both KDHE and local approval. If burning will be conducted for any reason besides those listed above in the previous question (residential, recreational, or agricultural), it is not allowed without written approval from KDHE.
Informational posters and handouts
|Open burning poster (PDF)
|Open burning handout (PDF)
- Fact sheet: Open burning in Kansas - when is it allowed? [PDF]
- Regulations: Kansas Air Quality Regulations (K.A.R.) for open burning [PDF]
- Website: Kansas Flint Hills Smoke Management
Designed for land managers conducting prescribed burns in the Flint Hills to obtain information and access tools to assist them in making burn decisions.
Provides training, regulations, policies, publications, a modeling tool and other links to guide people looking for information on smoke management.
Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan is an attempt to balance the need for prescribed fire in the Flint Hills with the need for clean air in downwind communities
The plan takes a voluntary approach toward improving air quality during the burn season
Open-burning related forms
- Application for approval of an open burn operation
- Click your KDHE district below to download the appropriate form as a Microsoft Word document:
- Northwest district in Hays, Northcentral district in Salina, Northeast district in Lawrence, Southwest district in Dodge City, Southcentral district in Wichita, or Southeast district in Chanute [Word document]
- Form for disposing (burying) demolition waste generated on-site as an alternative to burning [PDF]
- A draft restrictive covenant is also required [PDF]
- For more information, read KDHE's technical guidance document: Construction and demolition wastes and clean rubble [PDF]
If you have any questions or comments about information on this webpage, email or call Nancy Larson (800-578-8898).