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Air pollution during the COVID-19 pandemic

Bonfires

Please do not light bonfires. Smoke can be harmful to those living nearby with health problems.

Bonfire smoke causes air pollution, which can have damaging health effects on everyone. People with existing health problems such as asthma, bronchitis, and heart conditions are especially vulnerable. At this time, people may also be at home with symptoms of COVID-19, which is a virus that severely affects the lungs and respiratory system. We therefore urge you to think about your neighbours and avoid having a garden bonfire at this time.

Bonfire smoke can also cause a nuisance. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, many people are required to spend extended time at home and it is important they are able to open their windows for fresh air, make use of their gardens​ or balconies, and dry their washing outside.

Instead of burning garden waste, we ask that you use more environmentally friendly methods of disposal. You could create a compost heap, or place your garden and food waste in your green-top bin or corn starch sack, depending on which type of property you live in. If these are not suitable options, then we ask that you hold onto your garden waste until you can dispose of it properly.

Smoke from BBQs and outdoor burners can also affect those with respiratory illnesses. If you decide to use these, you must not cause a smoke nuisance to your neighbours - limit the amount of smoke and consider the direction that any smoke will go.

For advice on staying safe from fire when you’re spending more time at home, see the London Fire Brigade’s Coronavirus and Fire safety at Home pages.

Burners and stoves

You cannot emit smoke from a chimney in the borough unless you use authorised smokeless fuels or an exempt appliance

Before using burners and stoves​, always ask yourself:

  • is it necessary to light a fire?
  • is your home already warm enough?
  • could you use less fuel?

Not burning is the simplest way of reducing your costs and minimising your impact on air pollution.

Report air quality issues in your area

If you think there is a problem with the air around your area - be it excessive smoke, dust, or smells such as bonfire smoke - you can still report it to us, but please note we currently have a reduced response capacity. 

In many instances you will be offered advice and we will endeavour to resolve the problem by contacting the source of the air pollution first, where possible. Please be assured that we are keeping the service under review and looking how we can continue to operate effectively while following public health advice on social distancing.