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Group Takes on Patriotic Plastic Pollution

July 3, 2012

BALTIMORE - Picking up the pieces after Fourth of July fireworks celebrations can last for weeks. Fireworks often contain plastics that are launched into the sky along with the color and sounds, landing on streets, lawns and in waterways. And waterfront shows over the Chesapeake Bay mean shards of plastic will float around for a while.

Ellen Anderson, founder of the group Environmentally Friendly Fireworks, says they have volunteer clean-up crews targeting some areas.

"You know, we get however many we can grab the morning after, but the tide takes out a lot of these plastics because they've been shot through the air, from the beach out into the water. So, every month, it's bringing in more of these silly little pieces of plastic that float out on the water."

Anderson says bird sanctuaries are treating more seabirds with problems from eating plastic, and some of those pieces could come from fireworks.

Consumer fireworks are mostly prohibited in Maryland, although there are dozens of public shows featuring missiles and rockets.

Anderson explains there's an easy way for those buying fireworks for shows to see if plastics will be launched.

"If it says 'battery' on the labeling, you are pretty much guaranteed that, for however many shots there are in that battery - if it's 25 or a hundred - you're going to have that many pieces of plastic."

Anderson says one major manufacturer has told her it is developing plastic-free fireworks, although it may be several years before they're on the market.

More information is at www.plasticsinfireworks.org.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD