Now that Bulloch County’s population has surpassed 65,000 residents, anyone clearing land and burning the debris is required to have an Air Curtain Destructor (ACD).
The once-rural county has grown by over 25 percent since 2000 according to data from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
According to the 2010 Census, the population in Bulloch County ballooned from 55,983 in 2000 to 70,217 in 2010.
According to Vicky Giles, public affairs coordinator for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources EPD Air Protection Branch, “A county population of over 65,000 residents triggers air quality requirements for all land clearing activities under the …EPD Open Burning Rules.”
The Open Burning Rules require anyone burning vegetative material for the purpose of land clearing to use an ACD, a “forced air pit incinerator that generates a barrier of air (or “air curtain)” over a fire, when activated over a fire pit,” she said.
The ACD limits the amount of smoke released into the air during the burning process. The curtain of air traps the smoke and forces it back into the hot burning fire instead of out into the atmosphere, she said.
“The smoke is then re-burned until most of it is gone. This makes a much cleaner burn, emitting considerably less smoke and pollution,” Giles said.
Georgia Forestry Commission’s First Ranger Leon Lonon, of the Bulloch County division, said the ACDs will help keep Bulloch County safer when land clearing is being done.
“We would be like California if we don’t work on it now,” he said. “But a lot of contractors already have ACDs and do this.”
A more highly populated area would be affected more by large woods fires and smoke, Giles said. “Wood smoke contains particulate matter and more than 100 other chemical compounds and pollutants.” These can affect a person’s breathing.
“Particulates can lodge deep in the lungs, causing structural damage while reducing resistance to infection. Long-term exposure may lead to chronic obstructive lung disease and an increased risk of cancer.”
Local ordinances and regulations must always be followed, she said, adding that people planning to burn must check with the local fire department or forestry commission to secure burn permits if required.
The ACDs used must be located at least 300 feet from any occupied structure, and no more than one ACD can be operated within a 10-acre area at one time, she said.
Those burning debris must eliminate as much dirt as possible, and burn only wood. Fires are prohibited before 10 a.m. and after an hour before sunset, she said.
For a complete list of rules and regulations, as well as an operating guide for using an ACD, users can access the EPD Open Burning Website at www.georgiaair.org.
For further information call the Brunswick EPD District Office at 912-264-7284.
Bulloch County’s Georgia Forestry Commission contact number is (912) 681-5920.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (9120 489-9414.