Fireworks Clean-up. Photo by A. Rhodes, LLCH

Start with a Boom, End with a Broom

“Fireworks in particular, are made from several potentially harmful substances, including gunpowder and various metallic compounds. These substances can pollute air, water and soil.”

Guest Contributor: Adam Rhoads, Lincoln–Lancaster County Health Department Environmental Health Educator

The 4th of July — a time for parades, backyard barbecues and, of course, fireworks. With the focus on fun, an important part of the celebration often gets forgotten. Every year following Independence Day, Lincoln and other Lancaster County communities are littered with fireworks debris. This summer Keep Lincoln & Lancaster County Beautiful (KLLCB) encourages residents to be responsible community members with one simple request: Start with a boom, end with a broom.

Photo by Adam Rhoads, LLCHD

Start with a boom, end with a broom!

Preventing litter is essential to a clean, healthy and safe community. Litter tends to accumulate in places that are already littered, and in littered communities, property values go down, crime rates go up and businesses stay away. Local governments spend millions each year keeping communities clean.

Cleaning up your litter is part of being a good neighbor. Litter is also harmful to the natural
environment. Left unattended, it can be washed down storm drains and into streams, rivers and lakes. This makes our natural areas look bad and can harm wildlife. Fireworks in particular, are made from several potentially harmful substances, including gunpowder and various metallic compounds. These substances can pollute air, water and soil.

Here are a few helpful tips for cleaning up your fireworks debris:

  • Have the right cleanup equipment ready.
  • Allow spent fireworks to sit for several minutes — ensure fireworks are completely extinguished before approaching.
  • Use a broom to sweep up debris.
  • As a final precaution, temporarily place in a metal bucket or a bucket with sand or water.
  • Place cool fireworks in regular trash for disposal.

Lancaster County Residents: Unused or unwanted fireworks can be brought to a “no questions asked” drop off at Oak Lake Park for free disposal on July 5 from 10 a.m.–1 p.m.

Volunteer Opportunity: Help clean up after the largest 4th of July celebration in Lincoln, the Uncle Sam Jam. The annual Oak Lake Cleanup is scheduled for July 5th at 10 a.m. Each volunteer receives a free reusable water bottle and lunch (while supplies last). For more information or to volunteer, contact KLLCB at or call 402-441-8035.

Thanks again to Adam for reminding us about the importance of cleaning up after any celebration – especially those involving fireworks! This article appeared in the July 2016 NEBLINE Newsletter.

If you don’t live in Lancaster County, Nebraska, please make sure to check out your local extension office too. Your extension office has resources for you, your family and community. To find your local office, visit (nationwide listing).

Have a great day!!


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