Problems and complaints

The MPCA has limited ability to respond to individual wood smoke complaints. We encourage you to follow this process if you are having health or nuisance problems caused by a neighbor's smoky appliance or recreational burning.

Give your neighbor a chance to be a ‘good’ neighbor

Smoke from a chimney

Most people are responsible and willing to help if asked in a polite, non-threatening manner.

Calmly tell your neighbor what the problem is. You may find that your neighbor is not aware that they are affecting your property or your health. Give them a copy of one of the following documents:

Contact your local officials

If talking to your neighbors does not yield a satisfactory result, you may want to consider asking other neighbors for support if they are also concerned about emissions from wood burning.

Some townships, cities, and counties (in unincorporated areas) have zoning or public health nuisance ordinances that allow them to respond to wood smoke complaints. Some have adopted ordinances to restrict backyard recreational fires. For example, some cities participating in the Green Step Cities program have passed wood smoke related ordinances. If this issue is perceived by the city or county to be a broad or ongoing problem, they may adopt an ordinance that addresses specific wood burning appliances or backyard fires.

Many Minnesota local governments have adopted ordinances addressing solid fuel heating devices such as outdoor wood furnaces (also known as boilers). Call your city or township to find out if there is an ordinance or code for these boilers. You can also direct them to MPCA's model ordinances

Reach out to MPCA staff

Staff can provide further information about wood-burning appliances. Contact Lisa Herschberger at 651-757-2432 or complete a Citizen Complaint Form