What is Household Hazardous waste, and why do I need to dispose of it differently?
Many products used in the home, garden, garage and hobby shop contain hazardous ingredients and need to be used and stored safely. Once you decide to discard these products they become household hazardous wastes requiring proper disposal.
How do I know if a product is hazardous?
All hazardous products exhibit at least one of the following properties:
||Toxic: even in small quantities may immediately poison, or cause injury or death through repeated exposure, when inhaled into the lungs, eaten, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin (e.g. rat poison, pesticides, bleach).
||Flammable: usually liquids that easily ignite and burn (e.g. lighter fluid, spot and paint removers).
||Corrosive: substances or vapors that can burn skin on contact and can eat away the surface of other materials (e.g. oven and toilet bowl cleaners).
||Reactive: substances that react with air, water or another substance to produce toxic vapors or explode (e.g. bleach when mixed with ammonia-based cleaners).
Check the label. Look for the following warning words:
POISON, TOXIC, CORROSIVE, VOLATILE, FLAMMABLE, INFLAMMABLE, COMBUSTIBLE, EXPLOSIVE, DANGER, CAUTION, WARNING or HARMFUL.
These words will alert you to the nature of the product.
Why do I need to dispose of my household hazardous wastes differently from other trash?
Most people think of "hazardous wastes" as wastes generated by industry, but many household products contain the same chemicals found in industrial hazardous wastes. Improper disposal of household hazardous wastes, such as throwing them away with your household trash, dumping them in storm drains, or into sewer systems, can endanger your health, the health of others and the environment.
There are many reasons it makes sense to collect household hazardous wastes separately and keep them out of landfills. Some household hazardous wastes shouldn't be land filled because they can be recycled. Less hazardous waste in the landfill means less hazardous leachate requiring expensive treatment. The risk of ground and water pollution should leachate leak from landfills is also reduced. Solid waste collection and landfill workers can be injured by exploding aerosol cans, splashing chemicals or poisonous fumes created by mixed chemicals. Chemical reactions can also cause fires in solid waste trucks.
Household hazardous wastes should never be poured onto the ground or down storm drains. Products such as motor oil contain toxic chemicals and metals (hydrocarbons, lead, zinc, arsenic, chromium and cadmium) that will contaminate groundwater, drinking water and freshwater wildlife habitats. Other products may also have an adverse effect on water supplies and the environment.
Household hazardous wastes should never be flushed into down sewer drains because these wastes can kill the active bacteria at the waste water treatment facility. Waste water treatment facilities cannot remove all heavy metals and these may contaminate sewage sludge, water supplies and animal habitats.