Americans generate 1.6 million tons of household hazardous waste per year. The average home can accumulate as much as 100 pounds in the basement, garage and storage closets. When improperly disposed of, household hazardous waste can create a potential risk to people and the environment.
What is household hazardous waste?
Household hazardous waste includes cleaners, stains, varnishes, batteries, automotive fluids, pesticides, herbicides, certain paints, and many other items found in basements, under kitchen sinks and dark garage corners.
How can household hazardous waste be identified?
Household hazardous wastes fall into one of four categories, which is noted on the container.
Flammable – Ignites easily and burns rapidly
Corrosive – May cause deterioration of body tissues or erosion of material at the site of contact.
Explosive – Contents may explode if incinerated or stored above 82º F
Toxic/Poison – Harmful or deadly upon contact, ingestion or inhalation
What are the dangers of improper disposal?
Household hazardous wastes are sometimes disposed of improperly by individuals pouring wastes down the drain, on the ground, into storm sewers, or putting them out with the trash. Improperly discarded household hazardous wastes have the potential to cause physical injury to sanitation workers, contaminate septic tanks or waste water treatment systems and present hazards to children and pets.
How can household hazardous waste be properly disposed of?
If you use products with hazardous components, purchase and use only the amount needed. Leftover materials can be shared with neighbors or donated to a charity, business, or government agency, or given to a household hazardous waste collection program.
If you are planning to move, don’t leave your household hazardous waste for future residents. Remember to plan ahead and properly dispose of your hazardous waste. Contact the ACDEM for information on how to dispose of the materials you have.