Home Health Safety: Household Hazardous Waste Disposal

Homes generate much waste which is hazardous to our world including paint, chemical cleaners, and automobile fluids. There are specific ways to dispose of these substances.

The average household is riddled with products that, while easily handled with safety within everyday use, can pose a drastic threat to the ecosystem should it be disposed of improperly. With care, a conscientious person can make a difference in the state of our environment and general health by properly disposing of hazardous wastes from the home through proper methods. Not only a risk to the world at large, these products are often legally mandated to a certain set of disposal regulations which, if not followed, could result in a fine or even incarceration.

Several products found in most homes are hazardous and require proper disposal. Paint, chemical cleaners, pesticides, and several automobile products including degreasers are all among the most often found hazardous products. In truth, anything that is toxic, reactive, flammable, or corrosive should be disposed of properly. The reality of a product's hazards can always, by law, be found on its label.

The easiest way to dispose of a product is simply to use it completely over time. This is not always possible, but when it is, this is a much more economic solution. Not only is there a boon to the environment by doing so, but also to the pocketbook. If, however, this is not an option, there are other ways to deal with a hazardous household good. Giving it away to someone else to use, be it an individual or a non-profit organization, is an excellent way to recycle these wastes, particularly in the case of cleaning supplies and paint.

There are some hazardous items that are easily able to be disposed of with ordinary refuse, such as common batteries. For others, there are alternatives granted by the EPA, should the disposal of these wastes be necessary. Some types of waste always have places to safely accommodate for their disposal, such as automobile fluids and batteries. Even without such sites, there are several guidelines which, if followed, allow for the disposal of hazardous wastes with normal household garbage. Provided there are no specific disposal guidelines on the label of a liquid product, it can be added to sawdust or clay cat litter until there is no standing liquid, resulting in a paste or solid which should then be sealed to ensure no leakage can occur. Typically, it is requested that this disposal be spread out into several collection dates with other household garbage over an extended period of time.

Baring this method, the majority of these items should be kept as they have been, following the directions on the label for safe storage. The only universally appropriate method of disposal is to wait for a community disposal date, usually held annually or biannually in most areas, and deliver the waste to a designated location where it can be properly handled. The dates in which an individual community may be holding such collections are always publicized in local periodicals and released as public service announcements, and can be found by contacting the city offices.

Given the number of products that are hazardous to us and our environment, it is likely most wise to simply buy what is needed and no more. When the need arises, however, there are plenty of safe, legal options for disposal which require only a little planning and forethought. When in doubt, it is best to contact the local department of environmental protection with any questions related to specific circumstances.

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