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.

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
    3140 N 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
    3140 N 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
    3140 N 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
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"