print header

Open Burning: General Information

The smoke from a fire may not bother you but it could be a real problem and a serious health threat for your neighbors. Violations can result in substantial penalties. If you have any questions, or would like to report a suspected open burning incident, contact your Knox County Air Quality Office.

Open Burning Permit Now Available Online

In Knox County: Learn before you burn!

Open burning is any outdoor set fire that does not vent to a chimney or stack.

Some open burning is legal, with restrictions. But most materials are actually illegal to burn.

Contact Knox County Air Quality for more information about obtaining a free burn permit.

It is never legal to burn household trash, furniture, plastics, tires, coated wire
treated lumber, grass clippings, leaves or stumps.
An example of an illegal open burn

Open Burning Could Hurt You or Others

Air pollution from open burning can cause serious health problems and damage the environment. That's why there are state rules to control air pollution caused by open burning.
When you light that trash pile, 7 to 9 percent of what you burn ends up as air pollution, and some pollutants are highly toxic. Pollutants include particulate matter, dioxin, heavy metals and arsenic among many others. What we burn today is different than what was burned in the past. Many items contain low levels of chlorine, that when burned release a pollutant called dioxin, a toxic chemical.

What are dioxins?

Even the most common household trash produces dioxins when burned.  Dioxins are dangerous at extremely low levels and have been linked to cancer and other serious health problems.   

The EPA has shown that open burning of garbage is the nation’s largest source of non-industrial dioxin emissions. Dioxins from open burning end up in our water and soil. They accumulate in animal tissue and enter our food supply, especially when we consume meat and dairy products

Burning of Structures

Intentional burning of structures for fire training is allowed by Knox County Air  Quality Management, however there are certain Air Quality regulations that apply.

The Burning of Vinyl siding is prohibited. All furniture, solvents, and plastics must be removed before the structure can be burned.

All burns of this nature are required to have a Fire Training Exercise Permit. For Further details in obtaining this permit, please click here

Air Quality

Main Office
Suite 242
140 Dameron Ave,
Knoxville, TN 37917

865-215-5900 phone
865-215-5902 fax
865-215-2497 tdd
Air Info Line
Monday - Friday
8:00 am - 4:30 pm
Department Email