Air Quality

Welcome 

Contact Us:  Telephone:  402-441-8040  ~ Fax: 402-441-3890  ~ TTYNE Relay 7-1-1  ~  Hours: 8:00 - 4:30 M-F

The Air Quality Program is part of the Environmental Public Health Division of the Health Department, located on the 2nd Floor of the Health Department at 3131 O Street in Lincoln.

The mission of the Air Quality Program is to protect human health and the environment upon which all life depends by maintaining good ambient air quality, and to prevent illnesses and diseases that are caused by poor air quality.

Our Services

The Air Quality Program staff is knowledgeable in a wide variety of air quality regulations, pollution sources, pollutant impacts, and ways to reduce air pollution. If you have questions regarding any of these, or would like to locate more information on air pollution and air quality, please feel free to contact the Air Quality Program and the staff will try to assist you in any way they can. The following provides some basic information on the services we provide:

  • Enforcement of local and federal air quality regulations.
  • Inspection of regulated air pollution sources annually, to ensure compliance with local and federal requirements.
  • Inspection of asbestos removal and remediation projects to ensure asbestos is removed safely and in a manner that protects the public health.
  • Issuance of permits for the installation and operation of air pollution sources.
  • Investigation of complaints of activities that negatively impact air quality, or cause an air pollution nuisance.
  • Monitoring for fine particles and ground-level ozone to assess ambient air quality.
  • Issuance of variances from noise regulations, as well as open burning permits.
  • Assessments of the quality of indoor air in rental properties.
  • Education to homeowners and businesses on ways to reduce indoor air pollution.
  • Education and outreach on the causes and effects of air pollution, as well as technical assistance to people and businesses.

We DO NOT provide the following services:

  • Mold testing or mold remediation services. There are several local businesses that provide these services. Check your local phone company’s business directory under the categories for ‘Mold & Mildew Services’ or ‘Mold Inspection & Remediation’.
  • Asbestos testing or asbestos remediation services. There are several local businesses that provide these services. Check your local phone company’s business directory under the categories for ‘Asbestos Consulting & Testing’ or ‘Asbestos Removal & Abatement Service’.
  • Radon remediation services. Our staff will help provide guidance and technical assistance to those who are considering the need to install a remediation system. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NE DHHS) maintains a list of licensed radon remediation businesses. Click here for a list of licensed radon remediation businesses.

 

Asthma and Other Respiratory Ailments – Overview

Office Hours:  8:00 - 4:30 M-F
Telephone:  402-441-8040
Fax:  402-441-3890
TTYNE Relay 7-1-1

While there are many respiratory ailments that can be induced or exacerbated by the presence of elevated air pollution concentrations, the most common are asthma, allergic rhinitis (also known as ‘hay fever’), and allergic conjunctivitis.

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis typically include coughing and/or tightness in the chest, sneezing, runny nose, and occasionally a scratchy or burning palate and throat. Symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis most often consist of itchy, watery, irritated eyes. Allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis tend to be more seasonal in nature, varying based on the presence of such allergens as pollen and mold spores in the air. The severity of a person's reaction depends on how sensitive the person is to a particular allergen and how much allergen is present in the air. Plants release different amounts of pollen during different months. Someone who is allergic to the pollen from a particular species of tree might suffer during March but show no allergic symptoms the rest of the year. If a person has wheezing and/or shortness of breath, the allergy may have progress to become asthma.

The good news is that there are treatments available to help alleviate the symptoms of those who suffer from these ailments. Always consult your doctor before treatment to find out which treatment will be right for you.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a disease in your body's airways, which are the paths that carry air to your lungs. Asthma causes the inside walls of the airways to be inflamed or swollen. When this happens, people have repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, or nighttime or early morning coughing.

What are asthma symptoms, episodes, and attacks, and what causes them?

Asthma symptoms may include coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, and trouble breathing. When people have only some coughing, wheezing, or trouble breathing, they call it having asthma symptoms, or an ‘asthma episode’, or an ‘asthma exacerbation’. When asthma symptoms keep getting worse or are suddenly very severe, it is an ‘asthma attack’. During an asthma episode or attack, the sides of the airways in your lungs swell, and the airways shrink. Less air gets in and out of your lungs, and mucus clogs up the airways even more. Severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening.

Things that cause asthma symptoms, episodes or attacks are called triggers. Triggers are everywhere. Both indoor and outdoor air can be full of asthma triggers. If you or a loved one has asthma, it's important to learn what triggers an asthma episode. You should also learn what steps you can take to reduce these triggers.  

Who gets asthma?

Asthma is common among children and teens (about 1 in 10 have asthma), but anyone can get asthma - people of all ethnic groups, male and female, young and old, city dwellers and rural dwellers. In the United States, more than 20 million people have asthma. While no one knows for sure why some people develop asthma and others don't, we do know that it is a combination of your family history and your environment. Currently, there is no cure for asthma. Once you have asthma, you will have the disease for the rest of your life.  

What can I do if I have asthma?

While there is no cure for asthma, asthma can be controlled when patients and doctors work together using medicines and management of environmental triggers. If you have asthma, it is recommended that you:

  • Work with your doctor to identify your asthma triggers.
  • Ask your doctor to write your Asthma Action Plan.
  • Remove or reduce your exposure to your known asthma triggers.
  • Take daily medicines as written on your Asthma Action Plan. Know your asthma warning signs to catch an episode before it gets worse. Follow your Asthma Action Plan.
  • If your asthma seems to be getting worse, see your doctor. You may need to adjust your Asthma Action Plan.  

Where can I learn more about asthma?

There are several resources available that can provide more information on asthma. Click on the links that follow to learn more. You can also talk to your family physician for more information.

Indoor Air Information & Regulations

Office Hours:  8:00 - 4:30 M-F
Telephone:  402-441-8040
Fax:  402-441-3890
TTYNE Relay 7-1-1

When it comes to indoor air quality, the goal of the Air Quality Program is to minimize health risks posed by airborne and other environmental hazards in worksites, homes, and private and public buildings.

For owner-occupied residences, the Air Quality Program can provide technical assistance to help you identify possible sources of air pollution in your home. Program staff generally do not conduct investigations of air quality problems in owner-occupied residences, but can provide you with information and/or referrals to help you address any indoor air quality problems you may be experiencing.

For rental residences, Air Quality Program staff work with the City of Lincoln Building and Safety Department to conduct enforcement of the Lincoln Housing Code. If a nuisance condition is discovered, staff will advise the property owner of their responsibility to remediate the source of the nuisance. Property owners have up to 5 days to remove any visible mold that may be present, and up to 30 days to abate the source of an indoor air nuisance. Issues regarding lease contracts and rental agreements are civil matters covered by the Nebraska Landlord and Tenant Act. The Air Quality Program does not participate in civil litigation under the Nebraska Landlord and Tenant Act.

In addition, staff are involved in the enforcement of the Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act (NCIAA), otherwise known as the Nebraska statewide smoking ban. Staff routinely check establishes with 'outdoor smoking areas' for compliance with Title 178, Chapter 7 of the Nebraska Administrative Code. By law, establishments that provide an outdoor smoking area are required to comply with certain requirements regarding the amount of open space provided to the outdoors.

The sections that follow provide some basic information on indoor air quality. Visit the following link for more detailed information: EPA – Indoor Air Quality

Common Indoor Air Pollutants

Carbon Monoxide

The most dangerous indoor air pollutant is carbon monoxide, a byproduct of combustion. Indoor sources of carbon monoxide can include: unvented kerosene and gas space heaters; leaking chimneys and furnaces; back-drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces; gas stoves; generators and other gasoline powered equipment; automobile exhaust from attached garages; and tobacco smoke. Even at low concentrations, carbon monoxide can cause fatigue in healthy people and chest pain in people with heart disease. At higher concentrations, it causes impaired vision and coordination; headaches; dizziness; confusion; nausea. It can also cause flu-like symptoms that clear up after leaving home. At very high concentrations, it can be fatal.

The Air Quality Program recommends that, if you have any gas-fired appliances in your home (water heater, furnace, stove, etc.), you install a carbon monoxide detector. The EPA recommends placing carbon monoxide detectors about 5 feet above the floor on every floor of your home, but the detector may be placed on the ceiling. Do not place the detector right next to or over a fireplace or flame-producing appliance. Keep the detector out of the way of pets and children. If installing only a single carbon monoxide detector, place it near the sleeping area of your home, and make certain the alarm is loud enough to wake you up.

Radon

Radon is a gaseous radioactive element derived from the radioactive decay of radium and uranium. It is an extremely toxic, colorless gas that moves through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Radon can even enter your home through well water. Your home can trap radon inside, where it can build up. Any home may have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, behind tobacco smoke, and is estimated to cause between 15,000 and 22,000 lung cancer deaths per year according to the National Academy of Sciences BEIR VI Report. The Air Quality Program recommends the use of long-term radon test kits (3-12 months) because long-term tests are more accurate than short-term test kits (2-7 days) due to the fact that radon levels can vary greatly in a home in response to weather and other conditions. The EPA recommends homes be fixed if the radon level is 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) or more. Because there is no known safe level of exposure to radon, EPA also recommends that Americans consider fixing their home for radon levels between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L.

Biological Pollutants and Allergens

The most common allergens found in indoor air include bacteria, viruses, pollen, dust, dust mites, pet dander, mold, mildew, and cockroach debris. While most healthy individuals will not experience any health impact from such pollutants, people with asthma or allergies may be especially sensitive to their presence.

By controlling the relative humidity level in a home, the growth of some sources of biological pollutants can be minimized. A relative humidity of 30-50% is generally recommended for homes. Standing water, water-damaged materials, or wet surfaces also serve as a breeding ground for molds, mildews, bacteria, and insects. House dust mites, the source of one of the most powerful biological allergens, grow in damp, warm environments.

The Air Quality Program recommends that individuals with asthma or allergies take a look at the ‘Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value’ or MERV rating of their home’s furnace and air conditioning filter. A higher MERV rating translates to a higher efficiency at removing small particles (like the allergens mentioned above) from the air. If you’re considering installation of a filter with a high MERV rating, consult a heating and air conditioning professional to find out if your home’s system is compatible with such filters. It is important to note that all filters, regardless of rating, require periodic cleaning and/or replacement to ensure proper function of the home’s ventilation system. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations on maintenance and replacement.

Chemical Fumes

Fumes released from certain paints, pesticides, cleaning chemicals, building materials and furnishings, solvents and adhesives associated with hobby activities, and even fumes from personal hygiene products can contribute to poor indoor air quality. While the pollution resulting from such activities is typically intermittent in nature, concentrations can become elevated if proper ventilation isn’t provided for. Always read and follow all label recommendations from the product manufacturer. If you experience any health-related issues when using such products, ventilate the area. If the issues persist, it may be advisable to evacuate the area until the pollutant levels are reduced.

Tobacco Smoke

‘Environmental tobacco smoke’ (ETS), also called ‘secondhand smoke’, is the combination of smoke given off by the burning end of a tobacco product and the smoke exhaled by the smoker. People around the smoker inhale this secondhand smoke in a process that is referred to as "involuntary smoking" or "passive smoking". Involuntary smoking is just as harmful as direct smoking, and there is NO safe level of ETS exposure. Secondhand smoke contains thousands of chemicals, several of which are known to known to cause cancer in humans or animals.

Individuals with asthma or other respiratory ailments can suffer very negative health impacts as a result of exposure to ETS.

The LLCHD’s Tobacco Prevention and Education Program can provide more information about the dangers associated with tobacco use, and resources to help current users quit. The Air Quality Program works with the Tobacco Prevention and Education Program to enforce the Lincoln Smoking Regulation Act and the Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act, thereby reducing the public’s exposure to ETS in public places and places of employment.

Improving Indoor Air Quality in Your Residence

If you believe that poor indoor air quality is causing or contributing to respiratory ailments you may be experiencing, here are some things you can do to improve the air quality inside your home.

  • Regularly vacuum floors and upholstered furniture regularly with a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter. If using a canister-style vacuum, make sure to clean out the canister after each use. If using a bag-style vacuum, check the level of the bag before each use, and replace as necessary. Clean all vacuum exhaust filters on a regular basis.
  • Have all gas appliances checked to ensure they are working properly, including furnaces, water heaters, and gas stoves.
  • Maintain a humidity level between 30% and 50%. Air that is too dry can cause airways to become dry, cracked, and irritated. Air that is too humid promotes the growth and reproduction of biological pollutants.
  • Keep pets out of your home’s sleeping areas, and off of your upholstered furniture.
  • Maintain and replace your home’s furnace filter according to manufacturer recommendations. If you’re unable to locate manufacturer recommendations, it is generally recommended to change your furnace filter about once every 3 months.
  • Avoid smoking inside your home and vehicle.
  • Clean hard surface floors with a damp mop or cloth on a weekly basis.
  • Dust hard surfaces (shelves, furniture, appliances, etc.) on a regular basis.
  • Limit the use of harsh cleaning chemicals like bleach and ammonia.
  • Avoid overuse of air freshening sprays, candles, or aerosol personal hygiene products.
  • Vent clothes dryers to the outside.

For more information on asthma and other respiratory ailments that can be induced or exacerbated by indoor air pollution, refer to our asthma section.

Lincoln Smoking Regulation Act (LMC Chapter 8.50) and the Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act (NCIAA)

The Lincoln Smoking Regulation Act (also known as the Lincoln 'smoking ban') was approved by referendum vote on November 2, 2004. This law prohibits smoking any cigarettes, cigars, and/or pipes in public places and places of employment...with limited exemptions granted for guestrooms and suites, as well as scientific and analytical laboratories. In accordance with Lincoln Municipal Code (LMC) 8.50.280, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department is authorized to inspect public places and places of employment in order to determine compliance with this ordinance.

The Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act (NCIAA), established by the Nebraska Legislature in 2008, is intended to protect the public health and welfare by prohibiting smoking in public places and places of employment. In accordance with Neb. Rev. Stat. 71-5734, the Nebraska Dept. of Health and Human Services developed rules and regulations to implement the NCIAA. Those rules are set forth in Title 178, Chapter 7 of the Nebraska Administrative Code (178 NAC 7).

The NCIAA prohibits smoking in indoor areas. In accordance with 178 NAC 7, Section 7-002, an indoor area "means an area enclosed by a floor, a ceiling, and walls on all sides that are continuous and solid except for closeable entry and exit doors and windows and in which less than 20% of the total wall area is permanently open to the outdoors. For walls in excess of eight feet in height, only the first eight feet shall be used in determining such percentage." Smoking is allowed in areas that do not meet the definition of an indoor area.

The NCIAA was revised by the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature in 2015. The revisions, effective November 1, 2015, allow for smoking of certain tobacco products in ‘cigar shops’ and ‘tobacco retail outlets’.

The 2015 revisions to the NCIAA provide that the exemption granted for smoking in ‘cigar shops’ overrides any existing local ordinances. However, the exemption provided for smoking in ‘ tobacco retail outlets’ does not override local ordinance. The Lincoln Smoking Regulation Act does not provide for any exemptions to allow smoking in ‘tobacco retail outlets’, and as such, it remains illegal to allow smoking in any ‘tobacco retail outlets’ located within the City of Lincoln.

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department provides guidance for proprietors seeking to provide a compliant outdoor smoking area at their establishment. The LLCHD also conducts inspections to ensure that all smoking areas are in compliance with the NCIAA, and when necessary, coordinates enforcement of the NCIAA with the Lancaster County Sheriff's office, as well as the Lancaster County Attorney's office.

If you’re planning to provide an ‘outdoor smoking area’ for patrons of your establishment, check our Air Quality Program Forms & Applications section for guidance documents that can help you determine whether your smoking area will comply with the requirements of the NCIAA.

Outdoor Air Information & Regulations

Office Hours:  8:00 - 4:30 M-F
Telephone:  402-441-8040
Fax:  402-441-3890
TTYNE Relay 7-1-1

The Air Quality Program serves to reduce and prevent health-related issues arising from pollution in the ambient air. This is accomplished through educating the public on the impacts of their activities on air pollution, as well as through the implementation of a variety of air quality regulations. Staff respond to and investigate complaints of activities that are causing air pollution, and when necessary, pursue enforcement when violations are identified.

What kinds of activities are prohibited?

The Air Quality Program enforces air quality regulations and codes established by County Resolution, Lincoln Municipal Code, and local regulations set forth in the Lincoln-Lancaster County Air Pollution Control Program Regulations and Standards (LLCAPCPRS). The following are some of the activities prohibited under these regulations and codes.

Visible Fugitive Dust

  • Dust that becomes airborne in such quantities and concentrations that it remains visible in the ambient air beyond the premises where it originates is referred to as ‘visible fugitive dust’.
  • Article 2, Section 32 of the LLCAPCPRS(PDF, 31KB)  establishes that no person may cause or permit a building or its appurtenances or a road, or a driveway, or an open area to be constructed, used, repaired, or demolished without applying all such reasonable measures to prevent visible fugitive dust. In addition, no person may cause or permit the handling, transporting, or storage of any material in a manner which may allow visible fugitive dust.
  • Any person who fails to comply with the requirements of the LLCAPCPRS or who fails to perform any duty imposed by the LLCAPCPRS shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 per day per violation.

Air Pollution Nuisances

Lincoln Municipal Code (LMC) Section 8.06.150 prohibits ‘air pollution nuisances’, defined as the emission or release of smoke, ashes, dust, dirt, grime, acids, fumes, gases, vapors, odors, or any other substances or combinations of substances that:

  • Endanger or tend to endanger the health, comfort, safety, or welfare of the public;
  • Is unreasonably offensive and objectionable to the public; or
  • Cause unreasonable injury or damage to property or interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of property or normal conduct of business.

Any person convicted of creating an air pollution nuisance may be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not to exceed six months or by a fine of not to exceed $500.00 recoverable with costs, or both.

Open Burning of Prohibited Materials

Lincoln Municipal Code (LMC) Section 8.06.140 as well as Section 12 of the Lancaster County Air Pollution Control Resolution establish that it is unlawful to burn any of the following materials:

  • Any garbage or salvage material.
  • Gasoline, diesel oil, heavy oil, solvents, or other flammable petroleum products.
  • Treated wood of any kind including railroad ties, treated posts, utility poles, wood paneling and particle board.
  • Plastic and items containing plastic of any kind.
  • Rubber and asphalt products including rubber tires, roofing shingles, tar paper, asphalt siding and sheeting and items containing rubber or asphalt compounds.
  • Any material being burned for the purpose of salvaging all or part of said material.
  • Any other chemical material which produces highly toxic smoke or fumes which may endanger the public or firefighters called to extinguish the fire.

In addition, it is unlawful to conduct any open burning that:

  • Permits smoke from the fire to travel onto any street, road or highway in such a way as to obscure the vision of any person operating a vehicle on that street, road or highway; or
  • Permits smoke from the fire to travel onto a neighboring property, park or recreational area where it becomes a public nuisance to people who occupy the neighboring dwelling, business structure, or are using the park or recreational area.

Any person convicted of creating an air pollution nuisance may be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not to exceed six months or by a fine of not to exceed $500.00 recoverable with costs, or both.

Odor Nuisances

Lincoln Municipal Code (LMC) Section 8.06.130, as well as the Lancaster County Air Pollution Control Resolution establish that it is unlawful to cause or permit odorous emissions from any source (though exemptions are provided for animal confinement and feeding operations).

Any person convicted of creating an air pollution nuisance may be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not to exceed six months or by a fine of not to exceed $500.00 recoverable with costs, or both.

Noise Nuinsances

Lincoln Municipal Code (LMC) Section 8.24.090 establishes that it is unlawful to cause or permit noise disturbances. There is a variety of noise standards based on the type of activity generating the noise.

Any person convicted of creating an noise disturbance shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and may be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not to exceed six months or by a fine to be determined based on the nature and severity of the violation.

Investigation of Citizen Complaints

Clean, healthy air is vital to the human health and well-being, and to protecting the environment. If you notice an air quality problem on your property resulting from one of the activities prohibited above, you can file a complaint with the Air Quality Program. Staff will respond to complaints and, when violations are found, will notify the responsible party of the illegal nuisance they are creating. If necessary, staff will pursue enforcement against the responsible party.

***If someone is illegally burning materials like garbage, treated wood, rubber, or other ‘prohibited materials’, then before you call the Health Department, call ‘911’ to notify your local fire department.

While your complaint will become a public record, your information will not be released during an investigation, and will only be revealed in the event that a criminal case is prosecuted. If your complaint is regarding an air pollution nuisance created by a neighbor’s actions, the Air Quality Program recommends neighbor-to-neighbor communication prior to filing a complaint. Often, letting your neighbor know that their actions are a nuisance is more effective than regulatory action. Many times people are just not aware that their behavior is bothering anyone. We are happy to provide you with information to share with your neighbor(s), or you can download materials from our web site.

If you, or someone else, are experiencing health effects from an air quality problem, please contact your medical service provider, or seek medical attention.

Open Burning and Smoke Pollution

The rules that govern open burning differ between Lincoln and Lancaster County. The following guidance is provided so that you can better understand how open burning negatively impacts air quality, and what rules you are subject to.

*** It is important to note that, regardless of whether you need an open burning permit from the Health Department, you may need a State Fire Marshall burn permit. These permits are obtained through your local fire department. ***

What Other Resources Regarding Fires and Open Burning are Available?


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides a fire and smoke mapping service that tracks the locations of satellite-detected fires and smoke plumes. This resource helps provide an indicator of how local air quality might be impacted. Click here to open NOAA’s Hazard Mapping System.

The Air Quality Program has created some downloadable documents containing facts on open burning, as well as guidance on how to reduce air pollution from your indoor wood stove or fireplace. Those resources can be accessed using the following links:

Why Worry About Pollution From Smoke?

Whenever you burn something, the combustion process releases a variety of air pollutants, many of which can cause health problems. By definition smoke is toxic, since it contains hazardous air pollutants, which are chemical compounds that are known to be harmful to human health, and some of which can cause cancer.

Smoke also contains very fine particle pollution, which can damage lung tissue and lead to serious respiratory problems. Scientific studies have linked exposure to fine particles to difficulty in breathing, aggravated asthma, increased emergency room visits and hospital admissions, and, in some cases, premature deaths. Those most at risk are children, the elderly and people with heart problems or existing chronic respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or emphysema.

Open Burning Rules Within the City Limits of Lincoln

In addition to the prohibitions on ‘Burning of Prohibited Materials’ described above, most open burning is prohibited within the City of Lincoln. There are, however, some open burning activities that are legal, provided they do not cause an air pollution nuisance. Open burning activities that are allowed by the Lincoln Municipal Code (LMC) Section 8.06.140 include:

  • Fires set in structures (grills and fireplaces) for cooking and warmth as provided by the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department.
  • Fires of less than eight cubic feet in size that are used for cooking or ceremonial purposes provided such fires comply with Lincoln Fire Codes.

Other open burning activities allowed under LMC Section 8.06.140 require that the person conducting the burning obtain an ‘open burning permit’ from the Air Quality Program. Those activities include:

  • Fires of a size greater than eight cubic feet to be used for cooking or ceremonial purposes.
  • Controlled fires set for the purpose of burning vegetation waste accumulated as a result of land clearance projects or as required by agricultural/botanical research programs.

Any person convicted of violating the open burning provisions of the Lincoln Municipal Code and/or the Lancaster County Air Pollution Control Resolution may be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not to exceed six months or by a fine of not to exceed $500.00 recoverable with costs, or both.

Open Burning Rules Outside the City Of Lincoln

In addition to the prohibitions on ‘Burning of Prohibited Materials’ described above, Lincoln Municipal Code (LMC) Section 8.06.140, as well as Section 12 of the Lancaster County Air Pollution Control Resolution establish the following limitations on open burning outside of the City of Lincoln:

  • Any refuse burned shall be indigenous to the property of the owner or person in lawful possession of the land.
  • Any person conducting open burning for residential, rural residential, agricultural, and common-carrier right-of-way purposes must obtain an open burning permit from the Air Quality Program if the nearest neighboring (i.e. not on the same property) occupied dwelling, occupied business structure, school or other institution, park or recreational area is within 100 yards of the burn site. If the nearest neighboring (i.e. not on the same property) occupied dwelling, occupied business structure, school or other institution, park or recreational area is more than 100 yards from the burn site, the person conducting the burning does not need a burn permit from the Air Quality Program, but may still need a burn permit from the State Fire Marshall.
  • Any person conducting open burning for industrial, commercial (other than salvage operations), institutional (to include schools, hospitals, churches, and related facilities), governmental and community solid waste disposal purposes must obtain an open burning permit from the Air Quality Program.
  • Any person planning to burn a house, barn, shed, or other structure must obtain an open burning permit from the Air Quality Program

Any person convicted of violating the open burning provisions of the Lincoln Municipal Code and/or the Lancaster County Air Pollution Control Resolution may be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not to exceed six months or by a fine of not to exceed $500.00 recoverable with costs, or both.

How Do I Obtain an Open Burning Permit?

If you are planning to conduct open burning that requires a burn permit, you can obtain an open burning permit application from our Air Quality Program Forms & Applications page. If you are burning for industrial or commercial purposes, your application must be accompanied by payment of a fee for each day that you plan to burn. The fee is stated on the application.

Allergens and Other Air Contaminants

The term ‘pollution’ is typically used to refer to air contamination resulting from human activities, but there are also naturally occurring sources of air contamination.

Pollen and mold are not regulated by the Air Quality Program, but we recognize that these contaminants can have a significant impact on people’s health. The following resources and information are provided so that you can better understand the impacts of pollen and mold, and so that you can make informed decisions to protect your health and the health of your loved ones.

Pollen
  • Pollen is used by plants to fertilize each other and grow new plants. Plants release pollen into the air. The wind carries the pollen to other plants, and sometimes to human noses, eyes, and lungs. The most common sources of pollen are grasses, weeds, and trees. Each of these pollen sources has different seasonal peaks.
  • Some pollen sticks to the body of a carrier. The carrier can be the fur on an animal, hair, the feathers of birds, the bodies or legs of insects, or human clothing. This type of pollen is seldom carried on the wind (airborne). The grains of these pollens are sticky and larger than airborne pollen. Grains that are carried by animals seldom remain in the air long enough to cause allergic reactions. Most pollen grains cannot be seen with the naked eye. Airborne pollen grains are extremely tiny. The smallest can be carried on the wind for many miles.
Mold
  • Molds, a form of fungus, are found throughout nature. Unlike plants, mold need food and water sources in order to thrive. This food source is often in the form of a carbohydrate material, such as dead, damp wood or other cellulose-base materials.
  • Mold reproduces by the formation of microscopic spores. These spores can become airborne, and much like pollen, can find their way into the human body. Once in the body, mold can cause people to develop fungal infections, or severe immune reactions. Unlike pollen, mold spores rarely affect the eyes. There are many types of outdoor mold spores but only a few are allergenic.

Permits & Compliance

Office Hours:  8:00 - 4:30 M-F
Telephone:  402-441-8040
Fax:  402-441-3890
TTYNE Relay 7-1-1

Air Quality Permits

The LLCHD Air Quality Program is an authorized permitting and enforcement program that has been delegated authority from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) to write permits for sources of air pollution in Lancaster County. These permits are enforceable by both the LLCHD and by the U.S. EPA, and are the primary tool used to implement air quality regulations. Before getting into the specific details of construction permits and operating permits, the following ‘frequently asked questions’ can provide some useful information to better understand the terms used:

What Pollutants are Regulated by the Air Quality Program?

Pollutants regulated under the operating and construction permit programs are as follows:

  • Particulate matter less than 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10)
  • Nitrogen oxides (NOx)
  • Sulfur oxides (SOx)
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Hazardous air pollutants (HAPs)
  • Greenhouse gases (GHGs), including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

What is the Difference Between an Operating Permit and a Construction Permit?

A construction permit must be obtained prior to constructing, modifying, or reconstructing an air contaminant source and is valid for the life of the emission units contained in the permit. The conditions set forth in a construction permit apply only to those emission units contained in the permit application. A source can elect limits in their construction permit that can allow them to avoid the requirement to obtain an operating permit.

An operating permit must be applied for within 12 months of startup of an air contaminant source and is valid for up to 5 years. Operating permits contain all applicable requirements for all emission points at a facility. This includes incorporating conditions from any construction permits issued to that source.

What is an "Emission Unit"?

An emission unit is any part or activity of a stationary source that emits or would have the potential to emit any regulated air pollutant.

What is the Difference Between "Potential Emissions" and "Actual Emissions"?

Potential emissions, also referred to as ‘potential to emit’ or PTE, are the maximum emissions that would result from operating the facility at full capacity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year (8,760 hrs/year) taking into consideration any federally enforceable requirements that may apply to the source, or any limitations and/or emission control requirements imposed by a federally enforceable construction permit. The PTE must be calculated separately for each pollutant

Additionally, you can take into consideration certain process limitations or bottlenecks when calculating your PTE. A bottleneck is an activity or process that restricts the capacity of another operation. For example, a grain elevator dryer has a capacity of 45,000 bushels per hour (bu/hr). The facility has one conveyor leg that feeds grain to the dryer. The leg has a capacity of 30,000 bu/hr. Since the leg physically limits the amount of grain that can be dried, it is a bottleneck and 30,000 bu/hr can be used to calculate the PTE for the dryer.

Actual emissions are emissions produced by a facility, based on actual operating times and actual operating conditions.

How do I Obtain a Permit Application?

The Air Quality Program’s permit applications are available on our Air Quality Forms & Applications page

Construction Permits

Anyone planning to construct a new source of air pollution, modify an existing source of air pollution, or to move a portable source of air pollution into Lancaster County must first obtain a construction permit from the Air Quality Program. If you are planning to build, modify, or relocate an air pollution source in Lancaster County, then be sure to contact the Air Quality Program at least two months in advance of your planned activities, because sources cannot commence construction prior to issuance of a permit, and a permit cannot be issued until the public has been provided with a 30-day comment period. Click on the links below to find out more about the construction permit process.

What is the Purpose of a Construction Permit?

A construction permit allows the facility to construct the emission unit(s) while protecting the ambient air quality. In addition to allowing construction, the permit will also establish operating, monitoring, and record keeping requirements. These requirements are necessary to assure the emission units are in compliance with the applicable regulations. The requirements are also necessary in the event the source isn’t required to obtain an operating permit. A construction permit is issued for the life of the emission unit(s).

Who Must Obtain a Construction Permit?

Any source planning to install any kind of incineration or cremation unit must obtain a construction permit.

In addition, any source that is planning to construct, modify, or reconstruct an emission source must obtain a construction permit if the sum of the potential emissions associated with the new/modified/reconstructed emission units equals or exceeds the following quantities: 15 tpy of PM10; 40 tpy of NOx, SOx, or VOC; 50 tpy of CO; 0.6 tpy of lead; 2.5 tpy of any single HAP; or 10 tpy of a combination of HAPs.

Are there any Fees Associated with Applying for and Obtaining a Construction Permit?

Any source wishing to obtain a construction permit must pay a fee for each hour the Air Quality Program staff spend reviewing the permit application, providing technical assistance, writing the draft construction permit and the ‘statement of basis’ for the draft permit, and preparing a public notice for the proposed permit.

The fee for work associated with construction permits is established in Article 1, Section 6 of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Air Pollution Control Program Regulations and Standards (LLCAPCPRS). Click here to navigate to the LLCAPCPRS.(PDF, 136KB)

What if I Determine I Don't Need a Permit?

While there are no requirements stating that a source needs to demonstrate to the Air Quality Program that no permit is required, we prefer to be notified of ‘no permit required’ (NPR) determinations so that we can verify the information used to reach said determination.

To demonstrate you don’t need a permit, you should be able to provide the PTE calculation and any supporting documentation used in the calculation.

You must document what emission factors you used in your PTE calculation and the source of the emission factors. Emission factors may originate from continuous emissions monitor data, stack test data, material balance equations, industry/trade organizations, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) documents. You must use the emission factor(s) that best represents your emission unit(s).

You must also document the emission unit(s) design capacity. Manufacturer’s data can be used when the nameplate capacity is used in the PTE calculation. You must also provide documentation if you utilized any bottlenecks, permit limitations, or control equipment in your calculation and be able to explain how and why those were used in the PTE calculation. For instance, if a permit limitation was used, have a copy of the permit available. Be sure your calculation documentation includes the appropriate units (i.e. pounds/hour, Btu/hour, etc). It is also beneficial to provide the date that the PTE was calculated.

 

Operating Permits

The operating permit program is the result of the Federal Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, as well as the passage of LB1257 (1992) by the Nebraska Legislature. The Air Quality Program implements a comprehensive operating permit program for sources of certain air pollutants. The Federal operating permit program is referred to as the “Title V” operating permit program. The LLCHD’s Title V operating permit program is referred to as the ‘Class I operating permit program’. While the Federal Title V program only regulates major sources of air pollution, the LLCHD’s Air Quality Program also regulates minor sources, or ‘Class II’ sources, as well. Click on the links below to find out more about the operating permit program.

What is the Difference Between a "Major Source" and a "Minor Source"?

A source’s status as either ‘major’ or ‘minor’ is determined by its emissions, with the larger emitting sources being considered Major and the smaller emitting sources being considered Minor. The following are explanations of these terms:

  • Class I Source: Any source that is required to obtain a Class I operating permit. The criteria is the same as that of a Major source;
  • Class II Source: Any source that is required to obtain a Class II operating permit. The criteria is the same as that of a Minor source;
  • Major Source: Any source that has the potential to emit 100 tons per year (tpy) or more of any of the following pollutants: PM10, NOx, SOx, VOC, or CO. Lower thresholds exist for hazardous air pollutants: 10 tpy of any single HAP; or 25 tpy of a combination of HAPs; and 5 tpy of lead.
  • Minor Source: Any source that has the potential to emit below the Major Source criteria, but still have the potential to emit equal to or more than the following: 15 tpy of PM10; 40 tpy of NOx, SOx, or VOC; 50 tpy of CO; 0.6 tpy of lead; 2.5 tpy of any single HAP; or 10 tpy of a combination of HAPs.

How Do I Know if I Need an Operating Permit?

You may need an operating permit based on your source’s potential to emit, or based on requirements set forth in federal regulations that apply to your facility. The Air Quality Program can offer technical assistance to help you determine whether or not you need an operating permit.

How Do I Determine if My Emissions Meet or Exceed those Requiring an Operating Permit?

Generally, an estimation of emissions using emission factors will have to be done. However, emissions data, from testing on a similar unit, may be acceptable. For estimations, the Air Quality Program generally uses emission factors from the Compilation of Air Pollutants Emission Factors (AP-42) or from EPA’s web-based Factor Information Retrieval Data System (WebFIRE). These and other emission factor sources may be found on the internet at the EPA’s Clearinghouse for Inventories & Emissions Factors (CHIEF). Most emission factors are based on fuel usage, throughput or other quantifiable process information. When calculating emissions from your equipment, make sure you’re using the same throughput units as those specified by the emission factors. Depending on the process, you may also be able to calculate your emissions based on a relatively simple ‘mass balance’ equation process. The Air Quality Program has forms that can help you with mass balance equations.

What Types of Operating Permits Does the Air Quality Program Issue?

General permits are issued to sources that fall within a category in which the emission units are all very similar. For example, grain elevators generally consist of pits to receive grain, elevator legs to move grain into storage bins, and shipping pits to load-out grain into railcars or larger trucks. Some may have grain dryers or other grain processing equipment, but for the most part, all grain elevators are very similar in their operations. General permits will contain identical conditions, and the source to which the permit is issued must determine which conditions apply to his/her source, and maintain compliance with those conditions. General permits significantly reduce the demand on the Air Quality Program staff resources. In addition, once a general permit has been issued for a source category, any source needing an operating permit in the following 5 years can be covered by that general permit without going through the individual public comment process, making the permit process much more streamlined for industry.

Because of the appeal of general permits, the Air Quality Program has developed specialized application forms for several source categories, including the following: grain elevators and fee mills, concrete batch plants, asphalt plants, concrete & asphalt reclaim plants, incinerators and crematories, and industrial/commercial/institutional steam plants (boilers). Because the Air Quality Program establishes criteria for coverage under a general permit and the permit conditions are uniform, the source doesn’t have very much flexibility in certain areas. If the source wishes to maintain flexibility, a specific permit may be a better option.

Specific permits are issued to sources that don’t fall into a general source category, or that want more flexibility than a general permit offers. These permits address the particular needs and issues at the source in question. Because they are “tailor made” for the source, they are much more labor intensive which increases the development costs and the associated administrative costs. In addition, all specific permits must go through a 30-day public comment period, so the timeframe, from application to issuance, is much longer. Therefore, individual permits can be more expensive to develop and require a much longer timeframe to issue.

Are there any Fees Associated with Applying for and Obtaining an Operating Permit?

There are currently no fees associated with operating permit application and issuance.

 

Compliance Activities

The LLCHD has been delegated authority to adopt and enforce local air quality regulations, as well as the authority to enforce many federal air quality regulations. Program personnel conduct annual on-site inspections of permitted and regulated sources to assure compliance with all local, state, and federal air regulations, as well as all air quality permits.

Staff are often able to identify problem areas and offer suggestions to correct the problems. However, if violations of regulations or permit requirements are discovered, program personnel will initiate enforcement action, which often results monetary penalties. The Air Quality Program staff routinely recommends Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) as a means of penalty mitigation in an effort to improve future air quality conditions, and to help prevent recurring violations.

Public Notices

Office Hours:  8:00 - 4:30 M-F
Telephone:  402-441-8040
Fax:  402-441-3890
TTYNE Relay 7-1-1

Air Quality Program Public Notices

The notices on this page are provided for the use of submitting public comment to the LLCHD’s Air Quality Program. If you’re in need of assistance, or if you have questions for topics not included on this page, please feel free to contact the Air Quality Program at (402) 441-8040.

Permits Open for Public Comment


  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) City Campus – Proposed Issuance of a Permit to Construct 
    Open for Comment: December 17, 2020 through January 16, 2021 

 

Air Quality Laws and Regulations

Office Hours:  8:00 - 4:30 M-F
Telephone:  402-441-8040
Fax:  402-441-3890
TTYNE Relay 7-1-1

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) Air Quality Program administers and enforces both local and federal regulations. If you have questions, or would like some technical assistance in assessing how these laws and regulations may impact you, please contact the Air Quality Program at (402) 441-8040.

Local Laws and Regulations

Local air quality regulations include those set forth in the ‘Lincoln-Lancaster County Air Pollution Control Program Regulations and Standards’ (LLCAPCPRS), the Lincoln Municipal Code (LMC), and Lancaster County Resolutions. These local regulations are reviewed and approved by the Air Pollution Control Advisory Board and the Lancaster County Board of Health prior to adoption by the Lincoln City Council and the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners.

City Municipal Codes and County Resolutions

Lincoln-Lancaster County Air Pollution Control Program Regulations & Standards (LLCAPCPRS)

Article 1 Administration and Enforcement.

Section 1.(PDF, 67KB)         Intent. 70K
Section 2.(PDF, 75KB) Unlawful Acts: Permits Required. 70K
Section 3.(PDF, 85KB) Violations: Hearings: Orders. 73K
Section 4.(PDF, 91KB) Appeal Procedure 74K
Section 5.(PDF, 87KB) Variance 73K
Section 6.(PDF, 136KB) Fees 77K
Section 7.(PDF, 30KB) Compliance: Actions to Enforce: Penalties for Non-Compliance        70K
Section 8.(PDF, 8KB) Procedure for Abatement 69K
Section 9.(PDF, 8KB) Severability 69K


Article 2 Regulations and Standards.

Section 1.(PDF, 265KB) Definitions 113K
Section 2.(PDF, 83KB) Major Sources: Defined 74K
Section 3.(PDF, 44KB) Reserved 69K
Section 4.(PDF, 59KB) Ambient Air Quality Standards 70K
Section 5.(PDF, 88KB) Operating Permits: When Required 74K
Section 6.(PDF, 77KB) Emissions Reporting: When Required 77K
Section 7.(PDF, 104KB) Operating Permits: Application 89K
Section 8.(PDF, 128KB) Operating Permit: Content 85K
Section 9.(PDF, 58KB) General Operating Permits for Class I and II Sources 73K
Section 10.(PDF, 13KB)        Operating Permits for Temporary Sources 70K
Section 11.(PDF, 68KB) Emergency Operating Permits: Defense 76K
Section 12.(PDF, 46KB) Operating Permit Renewal and Expiration 70K
Section 13.(PDF, 70KB) Class I Operating Permit: EPA Review: Affected States Review 71K
Section 14.(PDF, 82KB) Permits: Public Participation 73K
Section 15.(PDF, 117KB) Operating Permit Modifications: Reopening for Cause 85K
Section 16.(PDF, 69KB) Stack Heights: Good Engineering Practice (GEP) 70K
Section 17.(PDF, 142KB) Construction Permits: When Required 101K
Section 18.(PDF, 83KB) New Source Performance Standards 83K
Section 19.(PDF, 9KB) Prevention of Significant Deterioration of Air Quality 70K
Section 20.(PDF, 75KB) Particulate Emissions: Limitations and Standards 80K
Section 21.(PDF, 41KB) Compliance Assurance Monitoring 69K
Section 22.(PDF, 66KB) Incinerator Emissions 81K
Section 23.(PDF, 75KB) Hazardous Air Pollutants: Emission Standards 70K
Section 24.(PDF, 65KB) Sulfur Compound Emissions: Existing Sources: Emission Standards 70K
Section 25.(PDF, 32KB) Nitrogen Oxides (Calculated as Nitrogen Dioxide): Emissions Standards for Existing Stationary Sources    70K
Section 26.(PDF, 46KB) Acid Rain 70K
Section 27.(PDF, 75KB) Hazardous Air Pollutants: Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) 71K
Section 28.(PDF, 106KB) Hazardous Air Pollutants: MACT Emissions Standards 77K
Section 29.(PDF, 11KB) Operating Permit Emissions Fees 72K
Section 30.(PDF, 7KB) Construction Permit Fee 70K
Section 31.(PDF, 7KB) Reserved 70K
Section 32.(PDF, 31KB) Dust: Duty to Prevent Escape of 70K
Section 33.(PDF, 72KB) Compliance: Time Schedule for 71K
Section 34.(PDF, 70KB) Emission Sources: Testing: Monitoring 73K
Section 35.(PDF, 42KB) Compliance: Exceptions Due to Startup, Shutdown Or Malfunction 74K
Section 36.(PDF, 31KB) Control Regulations: Circumvention: When Excepted 70K
Section 37.(PDF, 30KB) Compliance: Responsibility of Owner/Operator Pending Review by Director 70K
Section 38.(PDF, 99KB) Emergency Episodes: Occurrence and Control: Contingency Plans 76K


Appendix

Appendix I(PDF, 27KB) Emergency Emission Reduction Regulations 55K
Appendix II(PDF, 78KB) Hazardous Air Pollutants Sorted by Pollutant Name        45K
Appendix III(PDF, 77KB)        Hazardous Air Pollutants Sorted by CAS Number 98K


State Laws and Regulations

The LLCHD Air Quality Program works with the LLCHD’s Tobacco Prevention and Education Program to administer and enforce the rules promulgated by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NE DHHS) implement the Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act (NCIAA). View the rules of the NCIAA set forth under Title 178, Chapter 7 of the Nebraska Administrative Code (178 NAC 7) here.

Federal Regulations

Federal air quality regulations are established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). Many of the federal regulations have also been incorporated into the LLCAPCPRS, allowing the LLCHD Air Quality Program to administer and enforce those regulations. The following link will allow you to search the electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR).

Air Quality Program Forms & Applications

Office Hours:  8:00 - 4:30 M-F
Telephone:  402-441-8040
Fax:  402-441-3890
TTYNE Relay 7-1-1

The forms on this page are provided for the use of submitting applications or notifications to the LLCHD’s Air Quality Program. If you’re unable to find the form you need, or if you have suggestions for forms and/or applications not included on this page, please feel free to contact the Air Quality Program at (402) 441-8040.

Application or Form Name

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Health Department Perform Mold Testing?

No. There are contractors in the Lincoln area who offer mold testing services. To find companies that offer mold testing services, look in your local area phone directory yellow pages, look for ‘Air Quality’ or ‘Mold'.


What About "Black Mold or "Toxic Mold"?

There are many species of mold that appear to be black or bluish in color, but color alone is not a reliable indicator of danger or toxicity. Molds are present in almost all indoor and outdoor environments, and only become a concern when chronic moisture is present. Most healthy individuals will not experience health impacts due to exposure to mold. If you have concerns about visible molds in a rental home in Lincoln, contact the Air Quality Program. Any questions related to health concerns that may be caused or exacerbated by molds (allergies, asthma, etc.) should be addressed by your health care provider.

How Do I Get Rid of Mold?

It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors; some mold spores will be found floating through the air and in house dust. The mold spores will not grow if moisture is not present. Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled by controlling moisture indoors. If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem. If you clean up the mold, but don't fix the water problem, then, most likely, the mold problem will come back.

Cleaning mold off of hard surfaces can be done by simply scrubbing the surface with a mixture of detergent (soap) and water, then drying the surface completely. The use of harsher chemicals, like bleach, is typically not recommended as a routine practice. There may be instances, however, when professional judgment may indicate its use (for example, when immune-compromised individuals are present). In most cases, it is not possible or desirable to sterilize an area; a background level of mold spores will remain - these spores will not grow if the moisture problem has been resolved. If you choose to use disinfectants or biocides, always ventilate the area and exhaust the air to the outdoors. Never mix chlorine bleach solution with other cleaning solutions or detergents that contain ammonia because toxic fumes could be produced.

Where Can I Get More Information on Mold?

Does LLCHD Test Homes for Radon?

The LLCHD does not sell radon test kits, and does not perform any radon testing. Radon test kits are available for sale at a variety of home improvement stores. The long-term tests (> 90 days) are a better indicator than short-term tests (2-3 days) of your home’s average radon level, as it can vary significantly in response to weather and other conditions in the home. If you elect to perform a short-term test and results from that test indicate radon levels in excess of EPA’s recommended ‘Action Level’ of 4.0 picocuries/cubic meter, the EPA recommends homeowners conduct a 2nd short-term test. If a long-term test, or two short-term tests indicate radon levels in excess of the EPA’s action level, the Department can offer guidance as to how you should consider proceeding with addressing radon levels in your home.

There are also private contractors in our area who test for radon and install radon remediation systems. They can be found in the local telephone directory under ‘Radon’, or by visiting the following website. Nebraska Dept. of Health and Human Services – Radon Testing & Removal

Does LLCHD Conduct Seasonal Pollen Counts?

No. The following link will take you to a pollen counting station located in Lincoln, which is hosted by a third party not affiliated with the Health Department.

Nebraska Wesleyan University Pollen Count 

When is Open Burning a Problem?

Any time smoke from a fire travels onto a neighboring property and affects the health and safety of the neighbors it is a violation of the air pollution code. This is a public health nuisance condition.

Can I Burn My Household Trash?

No. It is illegal to burn any kind of garbage anywhere in Lancaster County, including the city of Lincoln.

Can I Dispose of Yard Waste (Leaves, Grass Clippings, Small Limbs, Brush) by Burning It?

It depends on where you live.

In the city of Lincoln, it is illegal to burn any kind of yard waste. Tree limbs and other woody waste materials can be disposed of by cutting it to manageable lengths (3-4 feet long) and either placing it in your garbage can, or bundling the limbs together and leaving them out with your garbage for your refuse hauler to pick up. However, leaves and grass clippings may only be included with household garbage between December 1 and March 31.

Outside of the city limits of Lincoln there are fewer restrictions on open burning, and it is legal to burn such materials, provided that town or village ordinances you may be subject to also allow it. However, burning these materials tends to create a significant amount of smoke, and can create a nuisance for your neighbors.

In the interest of reducing air pollution, the Air Quality Program prefers that citizens identify disposal methods other than open burning to get rid of yard waste. For more information on your disposal options, visit the City of Lincoln Recycling and Solid Waste Operations page on Managing Yard Waste.


Can I Use My Backyard Fire Pit?

Provided that the smoke does not travel onto your neighbor’s property and create a nuisance condition, then yes, you can have fires in your backyard fire pit. However, you must do so within the following conditions:

  • You can only burn clean, dry wood. No treated lumber products.
  • The fire cannot be larger than 8 cubic feet in volume, or more than 3 feet in diameter.
  • Your pit must be located at least 25 feet from any structure or combustible material.
  • A responsible adult must supervise the fire at all times, and must have a way to extinguish the fire available.

Do I Need an Open Burning Permit?

If you live in the city of Lincoln, you need to have an open burning permit for any fire larger than 8 cubic feet.

How Do I Apply for an Open Burning Permit?

You can download a copy of the open burning permit application on our Air Quality Program Forms & Application page. You can also call (402) 441-8040 and request a hard copy. Once you’ve completed and signed the application, you can submit it in one of three ways:

  • Scan a copy and e-mail it to lcook@lincoln.ne.gov. Be sure to enter “Open Burning Permit Application” in the subject line of your e-mail.
  • Fax it to (402) 441-3890.
  • Mail or personally deliver it to the following address:
    Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department
    c/o Air Quality Program
    3131 O Street
    Lincoln, NE 68510

For applications from commercial and industrial entities, you must submit payment of the open burning permit fee before your permit can be issued. The fee for open burning permits can be found on the open burning application form. Payment options include:

  • Using your credit card over the phone by calling (402) 441-8040.
  • Submit a check, either via mail or in person, to the Air Quality Program at the address provided above.
  • If paying in cash, deliver in person to the Air Quality Program at the address provided above.

Should I Apply for a Noise Variance?

Lincoln Municipal Code (LMC) 8.24.150 does allow any person to apply for a noise variance to the strict application of the noise limits found under LMC 8.24.090. If you believe that your planned activities will exceed the noise limits in LMC 8.24.090, contact the Air Quality Program at (402) 441-8040 to determine whether a noise variance is appropriate. Keep in mind that the applicant must provide information demonstrating why complying with the noise limits is a hardship to them, the community, or other persons.

How Do I Apply for a Noise Variance?

You can download a copy of the noise variance application on our Air Quality Program Forms & Application page. You can also call (402) 441-8040 and request a hard copy. Once you’ve completed and signed the application, you can submit it in one of three ways:

  • Scan a copy and e-mail it to lcook@lincoln.ne.gov. Be sure to enter “Noise Variance Application” in the subject line of your e-mail.
  • Fax it to (402) 441-3890.
  • Mail or personally deliver it to the following address:
    Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department
    c/o Air Quality Program
    3131 O Street
    Lincoln, NE 68510

Before your variance can be issued, you must submit payment. The fee for noise variances can be found on the noise variance application form. Payment options include:

  • Using your credit card over the phone by calling (402) 441-8040.
  • Submit a check, either via mail or in person, to the Air Quality Program at the address provided above.
  • If paying in cash, deliver in person to the Air Quality Program at the address provided above.

Do I Need an Operating or Construction Permit, and How Long Does It Take to Get One??

To find out if you need an air quality operating and/or construction permit, visit our Air Quality Permits page.

If it is determined that you will need a permit, the length of time that it takes to obtain one can vary greatly based on the complexity of your source, the number and complexity of regulations you are subject to, and how well-prepared you are for the permitting process. All permits must undergo a 30-day public comment period prior to issuance.

Generally speaking, simple permits (like those issued for portable concrete/reclaim equipment, incinerators and crematories, or small surface coating facilities) can be issued in less than 2 months from the time we receive your permit application. However, for larger and more complex sources, the process can be much longer.

How Do I Apply for an Operating or Construction Permit?

You can download a copy of the appropriate application for your source on our Air Quality Program Forms & Application page. Once you’ve completed and signed the application, you can submit it in one of two ways:

  • Scan a copy and e-mail it to gbergstrom@lincoln.ne.gov. Be sure to enter “Air Permit Application” in the subject line of your e-mail.
  • Mail or personally deliver it to the following address:
    Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department
    c/o Air Quality Program
    3131 O Street
    Lincoln, NE 68510

How Do I Dispose of Materials that Contain Asbestos?

There is a very specific set of steps that must be taken to properly package asbestos-containing waste materials. In Lancaster County, asbestos containing waste materials must be taken to the City of Lincoln’s Bluff Road Landfill (Hwy 77 & Bluff Road), and must be accompanied by a ‘Waste Shipment Record’. Click on the link below to download instructions on packaging asbestos-containing waste, and to obtain a Waste Shipment Record.

Asbestos Disposal Procedures & Waste Shipment Record(PDF, 160KB) 

What Other Asbestos-Related Resources Does the Air Quality Program Offer?

We offer fact sheets, information on regulations, and notifications forms that must be completed prior to renovating or demolishing certain structures. These forms can be downloaded on our Air Quality Program Forms & Application page. Look for forms starting with “Asbestos NESHAP”.

Where Can I Find More Information on Asbestos?

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NE DHHS), as well as the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) both administer and enforce asbestos-related regulations in Nebraska. You can visit their program pages using the links provided below.

For more information about asbestos, visit the following.

How Do I Handle a Mercury Spill in My Home?

Mercury spills can present a significant health hazard if not properly addressed. The following fact sheet provides guidance to homeowners on how they should handle a mercury spill in their home."Mercury In the Home(PDF, 86KB) "