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 environment.
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 poisoned or injured 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.
- For a more comprehensive look at how to minimize hazardous waste in your home and find safer alternatives, the Hazardless Home Handbook is an informative resource.