Allegheny County residents are being asked to limit open burning to help people with lung or heart illnesses during the COVID-19 crisis.
Air pollution, including smoke, can make certain people more vulnerable to the coronavirus, and for people with COVID-19, it can decrease their ability to fight the virus or worsen their symptoms.
“With more people at home due to the pandemic, we have seen a significant increase in recreational burning,” said Dr. Debra Bogen, director of the Allegheny County Health Department.
"For neighbors and friends with chronic diseases such as asthma or COPD, local burns can trigger the need for more medication, emergency medical visits and deterioration of the chronic conditions.”
The Allegheny County health and emergency services departments have received a significant number of complaints related to open burning, according to a press statement from the county.
Many complaints have been related to trash burning, which is prohibited in Allegheny County and South Fayette Township.
In South Fayette, residents are permitted recreational fires of clean, dry wood at least 15 feet from property lines, with a maximum overall size of 3 feet in diameter by 2 feet high. However, officials are asking residents to voluntarily refrain from recreational burning during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Please: I ask you all during this crisis to think about the health needs of your neighbors and refrain from all backyard burns,” Dr. Bogen said.