Burn barrels are barrels that individuals use to burn garbage or other materials, and are considered to be a personal incinerator.

It is against the law to burn household garbage. This includes burning in burn barrels and any form of open burning.

Items that cannot be burned include hazardous waste, demolition debris, oils, rubber, plastics, chemically treated materials, industrial solid waste, garbage and other materials that generate noxious smoke.

Burning your household garbage in burn barrels creates pollution that is harmful to human health, as it contaminates the air, water, and soil. The smoke from backyard burning can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, asthma and emphysema, rashes, nausea and headaches. The low burning temperature can also produce harmful quantities of dioxins, which are highly toxic chemicals, and cause them to go airborne and settle onto crops and into waterways. This leads to the dioxins bioaccumulating and ending up in food, affecting the health of both humans and animals.

Burning trash may also release lead, mercury, chromium, cadmium and other toxic chemicals. Humans also take in these dioxins when eating meat, fish and dairy products that have been derived from animals that have been exposed to these chemicals.

Another one of the risks with open burning and burn barrels are wildfires, as these burning mechanisms account for approximately 40 percent of all wildfires in Minnesota, and may lead to fines.

There are much better, legal and safer options to burning garbage. This includes composting or mulching food and yard waste. Bringing your recyclables to a recycling drop-off site or either of the transfer stations is a safe option. You can also reduce household waste by reusing items, buying only what you need, avoid single use items, and using less packaging. Bring all garbage and other waste to either Hubbard County transfer stations or call a local hauler to set up garbage collection. Do NOT burn garbage or use a burn barrel!

If you see a potential violation, or have any questions, email solidwaste@co.hubbard.mn.us or call 218-732-9568.

Kalyn Kopacek is Hubbard County’s Minnesota GreenCorps volunteer.