Regardless of whether for waste disposal, ambience or heating, open/outdoor burning results in the creation of smoke at a rate significantly higher than other forms of disposal or controlled combustion.
We know that smoke presents a significant risk to human health due to its contribution to degraded air quality particularly through the uncontrolled release of fine particulate matter or PM2.5.
Smoke also contains nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are precursors of ground-level ozone and smog, and can include highly toxic compounds such as dioxins and furans, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and carbon monoxide.
At the local environmental level, fine particulate matter, NOx and VOCs contribute to regional haze. Globally, uncontrolled biomass fires contribute to climate change since the emitted black carbon (soot) absorbs sunlight and diminishes the reflectivity of snow so less sunlight is reflected back into space (the albedo effect).
Open Burning of land clearing debris and other materials is prohibited unless a permit or approval under Air Quality Management Bylaw 1082, 2008 is obtained. Also, open burning must be conducted in accordance with local municipal bylaws and only on days with favourable atmospheric conditions. At a minimum, all open burns must adhere to the Code of Practice in the BC Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation. Check with your local fire department for municipal restrictions before any open burning.