Waukesha County

BACKYARD BURNING
Every spring and fall, burning is an issue in Waukesha County. Some municipalities don't offer yard waste collection services and residents may decide to burn yard waste. Some people also burn garbage and other items that might create a health hazard.

Residents should be aware of the consequences of back yard burning and the alternatives that exist. There are better ways to manage yard waste.

(People burn in open pits, burn barrels, or backyard incinerators. Backyard burnings lack the proper temperature to prevent release of dioxins and other harmful chemicals.)

Things to remember:
• Check with your municipality- In Waukesha County each municipality has its own ordinances regarding burning. You should contact your local town hall or police department if a neighbor is illegally burning.
• Compost as an alternative- Leaves, grass clippings, and brush and branches can be composted in piles to create a rich soil.
• Consider alternative landscaping- Learn how to design and landscape your yard for less maintenance, less water use and less waste.
• Open burning creates health hazards and is NOT an environmentally sound way to dispose of leaves and garden debris.

Why Should I be Concerned?
Dioxin: Human carcinogen (causes cancer) and toxic compound that suppresses the immune system and effects reproduction and development. A bioaccumulant (stays in the body). Released by burning garbage, treated lumber and tires.
Asthma: Particulate matter released during burning can aggravate asthma.
Smoke and Haze: Lower air quality for you and neighbors
Greenhouse Gases: Trees spend all summer converting carbon dioxide (CO2 ) to oxygen (O2 ) and storing the carbon in leaves. By burning the leaves you release the CO2 back in the atmosphere. That means less oxygen in our air to breathe and more CO2 giving us hotter days through global warming.
Odors: Not everyone likes the smell of burning leaves. Nobody likes the smell of burning garbage!

Special Items - DO NOT BURN!

Item Pollutants Released During Burning Alternatives
Railroad Ties Arsenic, Dioxins Landfill
Treated Lumber Arsenic, cancer causing agents, particulate matter Lanfill or Reuse
Magazines Toxic chemicals and heavy metals, CO Recycle
Tires Dioxins, acid gases, lead, CO, cancer causing agents Landfill
Aerosol Cans Chemicals in the can make new toxic gases when burned Empty and Recycle.  If full take to HHW site

Illinois EPA also has information on burn barrels.


Business Hours: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm Monday - Friday (excluding holidays)
515 W. Moreland Blvd., Waukesha, WI 53188
Room AC 260 - (262) 896-8300