Why is household hazardous waste a problem?
Small quantities of hazardous materials are common in the homes of most
Oregonians. Examples include pesticides, herbicides, poisons, corrosives,
solvents, fuels, paints, motor oil, antifreeze, and mercury and
mercury-containing wastes. Risks from household hazardous wastes stem from
improper use, handling, storage and disposal. Some of these can be toxic in
small quantities and represent significant hazards to human health and the
According to national estimates, each home contains from three to eight
gallons of hazardous materials in kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and basements.
Throwing them in the garbage can threaten sanitation workers, who can be injured
or poisoned by acids, fires, and explosions. The outcome of improper use and
handling of household hazardous wastes is the potential contamination of surface
water, groundwater, and air resulting in exposure to humans. You should not
dispose of your household toxic trash down the sink, on the ground, down a storm
drain or in your garbage can.
How to minimize hazardous waste in your home
- Use safer alternatives.
- Read labels before purchasing. Watch for the words "caution," "warning," and "danger." Follow label directions.
- Buy only what you need and will use up.
- If you do have products left over, give them to friends, neighbors, or charitable institutions to use up.
- Take unwanted products to a hazardous waste collection site.