Bonfires and campfires are a part of Michigan culture. Fires during the fall are also very common for residents that like to burn leaves. Did you know it is illegal to burn your trash in Michigan?

I've had fire pits in my yards in the past and I have one now. I have thrown paper plates and napkins in the fire after a cookout and that's an easy thing to do especially if you are camping. Is this considered trash?

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According to the State of Michigan offers insight to trash burning restrictions:

Public Act 102 of 2012 was signed into law on April 19, 2012, prohibiting the open burning of household trash that contains plastic, rubber, foam, chemically treated wood, textiles, electronics, chemicals, or hazardous materials. The burning of these household trash items pose a danger to human health and the environment. The law amends the open burning provisions contained in Section 11522 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (Public Act 451 of 1994). The law contains penalty provisions, which may be enforced by local units of government, should a local ordinance not exist.


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When I was young and naive I used to throw my styrofoam cup into the fire just so I could watch it melt. The items listed as "no no's" are toxic and contain unsafe amounts of chemicals that you shouldn't be burning. Fires can be toxic to human health. The State of Michigan discusses the health risks:

Chemicals from the burning of household trash may include hydrogen cyanide, sulfur dioxides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, benzene, lead, mercury, and dioxin. The fine particulate matter, containing a variety of chemicals, can have acute and chronic health effects on exposed people including cardiovascular and respiratory conditions (e.g., asthma). Long-term and repeated exposure to some of the chemicals emitted during trash burning have been shown to impair neurodevelopment in children, the immune system, reproductive system, and thyroid function. Some pollutants have been shown to contribute to the onset of diabetes and cancer. Many of these pollutants emitted can persist in the environment, resulting in future exposures to both people and wildlife. People conducting open burning of household trash as their main method of disposal will frequently be exposed to these hazardous substances. People living in the surrounding area (i.e., neighbors within several hundred feet) will also be frequently exposed to these hazardous substances.


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Do the right thing and prevent toxic material from being tossed onto your bonfire. Dispose of toxic trash in the right places and enjoy your bonfires and campfires safely this year.

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