Where Can I Take My Household Hazardous Waste?

Household hazardous waste (HHW), sometimes called retail hazardous waste, should be taken to an appropriate waste collection center near you. As they have great potential for environmental danger and bodily harm, hazardous wastes from your home should never be thrown in the regular trash collection and recycle bin.

It’s also not safe when strong household chemicals are flushed down the toilet, poured down the drain, or even disposed of in the sewer. ACTenviro offers you a reliable, convenient, and compliant way to get these items out of  your house:

While the above-listed items seem trivial as they’re used in everyday settings, they become potentially hazardous substances with improper disposal; they can pollute water systems, contaminate food sources, and even endanger unsuspecting lives. 

As a responsible homeowner, it is important that you monitor the usage, storage, and proper disposal of your home-generated consumer wastes. 

ACTenviro household hazardous waste disposal can get you and your family out of harm’s way through their various services. 

Bulk Solid Disposal for condominiums and apartments that routinely generate bulk solid wastes. You can book ACTenviro services and they will schedule your regular household waste collections from their different branches across the western United States. Household hazardous wastes such as asbestos-containing materials (ACM), contaminated soil, construction debris, filter cakes, and recyclable metals can be loaded into their specialized roll-off boxes that they deliver to your home. You can schedule a pickup at your own convenience. 

ACTenviro Transportation and Disposal of household chemical wastes. This service is the cornerstone of the company as a waste management broker, and they guarantee the safe mobilization of hazardous by-products from your home to the disposal facility. ACTenviro is one of the best agencies where you can take your dangerous home items such as flammable liquids, acids, bases, infectious materials, sharps, and electronic wastes. 

ACTenviro Coronavirus Services can take care of your hazardous home wastes such as masks, gloves, medical equipment, personal protective equipment, and items that might be contaminated with the deadly virus. ACTenviro’s Covid-19 response team follows strict CDC protocols in decontaminating surfaces, household hazardous waste disposal, and even disinfection. 

ACTenviro Emergency Response for household hazardous waste accidents. Sometimes, even the slightest domestic mishap can unfold into something catastrophic that’s why ACTenviro’s24-hour emergency response hotline (866) 348-2800 is always ready to assist you with oil or mercury spill cleanup, infectious disease decontamination, hazardous material disposal, and even disaster response. 

ACTenviro Recycling for hazardous household wastes can turn your old paints, used solvents, dead batteries, broken electronics, shattered glass, used oil, and universal wastes (mercury or fluorescent products) into a renewable resource. When you take a HHW to them, they ensure these by-products will be recycled as semiconductor components or as raw materials in manufacturing. 

ACTenviro Vacuum Truck Services for the household waste that no one really likes to talk about – overflowing wastewater. ACT’s state-of-the-art vacuum service can suck out septic tanks, pump out flushed chemicals, and clean underground storage tanks. 

What are the items considered as household hazardous wastes? These are your everyday things that are accepted to be disposed in most waste management agencies before being transferred to an incinerator or landfill site: 

Chemicals and solvents – acetone, turpentine, paint thinner, and the likes should never be mixed with motor oil. Likewise, if you have a good amount of these liquids for disposal, do use them in tanks that used to contain automotive fluids.

Acids and Alkali – bottles of hydrochloric acid (commonly called muriatic acid) and ammonium hydroxide found in most home disinfectant solutions can be discarded when empty. However, always use separate containers for ammonia-based solutions with acids or bleach. 

Aerosol spray cans and inhalers – compressed gas cartridges such as aerosol cans, spray inhalers, and gas tanks (usually holding oxygen, helium, or CO2 for patient home care) are readily accepted in most household hazardous waste management sites. 

Automotive fluids – not all of these liquids are compatible. Self-service pour recycling centers of automotive fluids have precautionary guidance for liquids compatible with motor oil, anti-freeze products, diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), windshield washers, and other fluids that can’t be mixed inside the recycling tanks. 

How many times did you tell yourself that it’s always handy to keep a small bottle of paint for quick wall touch-ups or stock up on household cleaners only to find out that they’ve gone past their expiration dates? Now you’re faced with the task of properly disposing these toxic home byproducts. 

But even if you can take your household hazardous waste to ACT, it’s a good practice to know the proper handling of the HHWs at home.

In general, dangerous or contaminated garbage from households are excluded from the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)’s regulation covering the general hazardous by-products from commercial or industrial waste generators. 

To be clear, HHWs are not regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Instead, state regulations on local solid waste management have come together to form a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program to give residents a safer way to dispose of harmful household chemicals. 

So you might be asking where can I take my household hazardous waste? As long as you are throwing away items that belong to the following criteria: 

  1. Wastes generated by individuals on the premise of a permanent, temporary, or transient residence, and 
  2. Waste streams primarily composed of consumer household items, 

They are regulated under the state and local level as solid waste can be picked up or delivered to a waste management agency in your area. 

The EPA also expanded their definition of “household waste generators” to include crew bunkhouses, employee quarters, camping sites, picnic groves, and even day-use facilities. However, household hazardous wastes should not be mixed with other trash piles. 

The EPA’s comprehensive definition of “hazardous” household items in the trash is the same as the items listed above but are categorized into four: 

Reactive substances – solid, liquid, or gas that is prone to explosion under high temperature or pressures. 

Combustible materials – those that easily ignite or burn easily with or without an explosive reaction. 

Toxic substances – can cause harm upon skin contact, ingestion, or inhalation including chemicals, pollen, and even mold-infected household items. 

Corrosive substances – are usually liquid that can corrode or oxidize metals. These chemicals are found in industrial-grade cleaners that are sold in home improvement shops. 

A lot of hazardous factory-grade chemicals are surprisingly found in our homes. You probably have a handful of those substances lying around the house, workshop, or pantry. This has prompted federal regulations to permit the disposal of HHW into mainstream solid waste management programs but they remain stringent in regulating it. 

Some states, even in Canada, have equipped their local fire stations in accepting empty propane and helium tanks. No doubt the fire brigade would certainly know how to dispose of flammable liquids and gas containers. 

The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) has a handy list of battery recycling centers in almost every state in the United States that are accredited with local environmental organizations. 

Whereas the North American Hazardous Materials Management Association (NAHMMA) publishes whitepapers, holds annual conferences, and conducts training aimed towards the proper disposal of household hazardous wastes and where to take them. 

In context, however, the definition of household hazardous wastes is not just limited to the common household chemicals listed by the EPA and federal state agencies. They may also include personal care items with a high risk of contamination, sharps, and medical drugs. 

What’s the Universal Waste Law of 2006 and how can it affect where I take my household hazardous wastes? A “universal waste” is garbage generated by several sectors including hospitals, factories, commercial spaces, and not just homes. Examples of universal wastes generated in a home setting include the common batteries, light bulbs, mercury-based thermostats, e-wastes, aerosol sprays. 

As of February 2006, it has become illegal for homeowners to dump universal waste items in the regular garbage streams because they can’t be disposed of in landfills. Lead and mercury are toxic when absorbed in the soil and released into the air and bodies of water.

Disposing of household hazardous wastes can also be done in no-contact drop-off facilities where you have the option to stay inside your vehicle and items will be unloaded from your cargo trunk. The disposal staff will not open a passenger door or enter a vehicle. Drivers and passengers must still wear masks during hazardous household waste drop-offs.

Conclusion

Such everyday items like the AAA batteries inside your remote control and the brake fluid you always spill in your garage becomes hazardous in magnitude. Imagine when thousands of households toss out toxic stuff daily.

Through the years of living at your home or even when you’re about to move, you’ll soon find yourself tossing out used and half-empty chemicals, batteries, and oils of all sorts. Always remember that there is a proper way to dispose of these household hazardous wastes. 

Federal and local agencies may offer free disposal for these wastes but may not be readily available at all times. Private collection agencies like ACTenviro can give you the best option in HHW drop-off or pick-up waste disposal services. 

As household generated hazardous wastes come in all forms – solid, liquid, or gas – there is no one size fits all disposal method. Instead, you have to learn how to containerize it properly, label appropriately, and categorize it correctly. For example, not all liquids can go together in one canister. Batteries may also explode when in contact with chemicals. 

You can always eliminate the guesswork on where you can take your household hazardous wastes through ACTenviro’s waste disposal services as they offer removal, transportation, and even sanitation work.

Best Methods of Disposing of Household Hazardous Waste

One thing that most homes have in common is the accumulation of household hazardous waste – you’re bound to have cans of old paint, old batteries, tins of gasoline, and other such items in your home that are simply not possible to throw away with your regular household trash.

Normally, the reason why these types of wastes accumulate in your home is that disposing of them is not that straightforward. You may not be entirely sure whether you need to call a hazardous waste collection company or, in another scenario, you may not be fully aware if some of these are recyclable or reusable.

So, what’s the best method of disposing of household hazardous waste? When do you need to drop off at a hazardous waste collection site? Can you just leave these at the curb? When do you recycle? We answer these questions by providing 14 practical methods in properly disposing of your household hazardous waste.

Quick Definition of Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)

The term “hazardous waste” refers to any waste that poses any major or possible threats to public health or the local environment and therefore, requires special care during its disposal. 

According to the EPA, HHW must show one or more of the following features:

Corrosivity

This refers to the corrosive characteristics of substances found in certain household wastes. Common items found in your home that are corrosive are any industrial-strength cleaners that contain strong acids such as hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid. Car batteries which are usually lead batteries, also contain sulfuric acid which makes them corrosive.

Ignitability

This refers to the flammable characteristic of substances found in certain household wastes. Common items found in homes that are combustible or ignitable are gasoline, oxidizers, and propane tanks.

Reactivity

Any wastes that are potentially combustible when mixed together with other substances or exposed to extreme temperatures are considered reactive. A common example is filled or partially-filled aerosol cans that, when exposed to high temperatures, may cause an explosion.

Toxicity

Any wastes that contain toxic materials that when inhaled or consumed can have serious, or potentially deadly,  health consequences. If exposed to any toxic materials, you are to call for medical aid immediately.

Examples of common HHW found in homes include:

One of the best ways to determine if a product is hazardous and requires special disposal methods is to check the label. If it has any of the common hazardous waste symbols like “flammable”, “toxic” or “gas under pressure” then extra care must be taken during its disposal.

Now that you have a general idea of what hazardous waste is, now we can talk about how and what you need to know about its disposal. But before we delve into the specifics, here’s one important tip that you must first remember:

Research your county’s specific waste management laws.

Each county has different sets of waste disposal regulations that are either governed at a state or federal level. All of these laws must be adhered to so that you can avoid hefty fines, penalties, or other legal sanctions.

So, asking a family member who lives in another county (or an entirely different state, for that matter) for advice on how to dispose of latex paint, for example, isn’t recommended because their local waste disposal laws may differ from yours. Their local laws may allow them to just include latex paint in their trash bin or leave it at the curb for pick up but yours might not. 

We recommend for you to do a quick search for your area specifically by doing any of the following:

14 Methods for Household Hazardous Waste Disposal

Method 1: Dispose of your household hazardous waste in regular garbage if allowed by your local laws.

The caveat is there are certain situations when this is allowed and some situations where this isn’t. For example, while aerosol sprays are considered hazardous wastes, many areas typically allow people to toss empty cans into the garbage. 

However, If you want to empty the aerosol can before throwing it away, you should take this step very carefully. There are specific steps and regulations for recycling aerosol cans. You can find them here.

One key issue about whether HHW can be tossed in with your household trash is how much you have. For example, if you have several smoke detectors, then tossing numerous units of ionizing smoke detectors into the garbage can be dangerous to human health.

In summary:

Method 2: Looking to dispose of asbestos? Get the help of waste management contractors ASAP.

In situations like asbestos, the removal of the substance could itself be dangerous. This helps to explain why many hazardous waste collection centers don’t accept such items. It’s better to contact an asbestos contractor since they’ll have the know-how to remove the asbestos product then dispose of it properly.

Other than asbestos removal, there are few situations where a contractor is required to go on the field to remove household hazardous waste from private residences. 

But if you do have large quantities of unknown or expired chemicals in your home that require removal, always ensure that you contact professionals for safety and compliance. You can request a free household hazardous waste removal quote from ACTenviro here.

Method 3: Where, possible - RECYCLE!

This method is part of the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. When you recycle hazardous waste like smartphone batteries and other electronics parts, this can benefit the Earth’s environment since handset makers can reuse them for new smartphones, tablets, and fitness trackers. 

Meanwhile, used car oil can also be saved and recycled. While 75% of the USA’s waste could be recycled, less than one-third actually goes through this process, according to estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

Batteries are one of the most popular items to recycle. This includes ones like lead-acid batteries. In fact, it’s very important to dispose of these batteries and others because state laws sometimes require them to be recycled or taken to a hazardous waste facility.

Did you also know that you can also recycle chemicals like mercury? It’s important to make sure you store mercury carefully in an air-tight container. Some common examples include mercury thermostats.

Various states even offer free recycling of electronics waste. It’s important to visit your state’s homepage about this issue to learn more. 

Finally, another issue is where you take HHW to be recycled. The easiest way to find out is to go online. Here are 2 suggestions:

Method 4: If you can - REUSE!

This isn’t technically a way to dispose of HHW but is an alternative and more eco-friendly option since it reduces the carbon footprint. For example, one option is to reuse solvents with paint thinners. You can do this by closing the container fully then letting the paint settle to the container’s bottom. You can then reuse the solvent on the top. Next, let the sludge dry out then discard it. 

Another simple way to reuse components of hazardous waste is to reuse the containers it comes in. For example, completely dried-out paint cans can be repainted to reuse as “pots” for plants.

Method 5: Share or donate your waste.

This is an effective way to prevent wastes like paint, fertilizers, auto oil, or acids/bases. If you have extra amounts of these substances, then consider giving them away to people who can use them.

Common suggestions include:

Method 6: Diluting instead of disposing

This method should be done carefully and should be done following specific guidelines. When followed correctly, dilution is a great way to “expand” the usage of your hazardous waste by either diluting them with the same material or diluting with water while safely storing the excess for future use.

Common HHW items that can be diluted are:

1. Gasoline

2. Antifreeze

If you live in an area with colder climates, use a higher percentage of antifreeze to protect against extremely low temperatures e.g. 70% antifreeze to 30% distilled water in a one-gallon container.

Caution:

Method 7: Check the schedule for your local Traveling Wastemobile

As the name suggests, this mobile HHW collection service travels to different regions in a city, town, or county. The main benefit is the collection vehicle goes to residents instead of them traveling to collection sites, for example. 

Wastemobiles maintain different operating schedules. Some travel around the city during the same few days of the week, while others operate nearly every day except national holidays like New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. 

Wastemobiles typically accept many of the same items as HHW collection centers including:

Meanwhile, items that aren’t accepted typically include:

To find updated Wastemobile schedules, just head over to your county’s website or search Google: “Wastemobile schedule (your county)”

Method 8: Check and see what your local station accepts.

Gas stations can sometimes accept multiple types of automotive waste like brake fluid, transmission fluid, and diesel fuel. However, when taking your auto waste to such facilities, make sure you don’t mix the products with motor oil since this could cause a dangerous situation.

Method 9: If possible, store HHW for later use or disposal.

This involves simply holding on to various hazardous waste until it can be disposed of or used later. For example, let’s say your home has some extra mothballs. These items are toxic /flammable, so you should definitely use them up if you can.

If it’s time to dispose of them, simply store the mothballs in a safe place until a local HHW program can collect them through drop-off centers, collection events, etc. 

Another great HHW item to store for later use is paint. Paints are tricky to dispose of as various areas often have different paint disposal regulations. However, as long as it’s stored and sealed properly, paint can last up to 10 years. Keeping them about is handy for touch-ups and DIY projects.

You may also not think of used cooking oil as a type of HHW but it actually is. When disposed of improperly, these can clog sewers and storm drains and can cause disastrous consequences. Simply storing them for future use (even if it’s just a few days) or using it as material for making soap or mixing used vegetable oil in compost are great ways to give “new life” to HHW and help the environment, as well.

Method 10: Check and see if your local pharmacy has a designated drop box for used sharps.

Sharps are classified hazardous and are usually categorized under Regulated Medical Waste but these aren’t just generated by hospitals. Some households also generate waste sharps especially if there is someone in the home that requires medical care like insulin shots or other types of medication.

Several drug stores contain disposal boxes where it’s safe to deposit used syringes. Other drop boxes may be found at doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, hospitals, etc. These are sometimes free but sometimes, fees may apply. 

Caution: Always make sure you’re knowledgeable about the sharps disposal laws in your local area before disposal or drop off. Special, puncture-resistant containers are needed for storage before these can be deposited or disposed of. The US FDA provides the correct outlines for the correct storage and disposal of sharps/needles here.

Method 11: Know how to properly dispose of unused medication.

For unused prescription drugs, you should always head over to designated drop-off centers for disposal. Never flush them down the toilet or toss them into the garbage can. The US FDA outlines the correct disposal of unused medicines here.

Method 12: If allowed, directly drop off your HHW at your local landfill.

You can sometimes drop off HHW at municipal landfills operated by your town, city, or county. Make sure to find out what hazardous waste materials are acceptable/unacceptable.

Landfills are often connected with in-house collection centers for HHW, e-waste, business waste, etc. Recycling centers are another kind of collection site that is often available at landfills. 

When possible, you should try to prevent waste from ending up in landfills. If the landfill isn’t managed properly, the waste can seep into the soil and then into the groundwater. You can minimize how much waste ends up in landfills by taking steps like recycling.

Method 13: Drop Off Your HHW At Designated Household Hazardous Waste Collection Sites

This is a general method of hazardous waste disposal. There are various methods, including drop-off days during the week, collection events, and Wastemobile pick-ups. 

A local city, town, or county can provide information regarding this HHW-processing method. Sometimes municipal landfills operate HHW collection sites that accept various HHW, including fluorescent light bulbs, oil-based paints, electronics waste (e-waste), etc. 

When dropping off HHW at collection sites, it’s important to follow particular guidelines the center has set including:

Look for specific guidelines by having a look at your local area’s official website. It should have the information you need.

Method 14: Use it all up!

This last method is simple – it’s about using the item yourself instead of sharing it with friends or family. There are various products you can apply this process to like personal care products. 

Furthermore, there are also different ways you can consume leftover substances. For example, if you have some leftover paint, you could use it up on small projects. This will eliminate the amount of hazardous waste you produce. 

When an item is all used up and the container’s empty – it’s usually a lot easier to dispose of, in the first place.

Quick tips to help you use up all items that contain hazardous materials in your home include:

Conclusion

There’s no question that hazardous waste has become worldwide public health and environmental issue. So it’s critical to always determine issues like what you’re disposing of, how much of it you’re disposing of, and how to store, treat, and transport the substances.

In most situations, the best method of disposing of household hazardous waste is an HHW collection facility. They have the knowledge, experience, and equipment to make sure it’s disposed of properly. On the other hand, sometimes there are better alternatives such as recycling, donating, or simply using up the product.

When in doubt, contact ACTenviro. Our expert team is knowledgeable about the intricacies of hazardous waste disposal. Get in touch with us today.

What Household Chemicals Might Be Harmful if Not Disposed of Properly?

Introduction

All U.S. homes should know: what household chemicals might be harmful if not disposed of properly? Only about 1% of the approximately 84,000 chemicals on the market has been tested for safety, according to CNN.

This highlights the need to make sure people properly dispose of household hazardous waste (HHW) in the form of chemicals. That includes ones like bleach, ammonia, antifreeze, paint, and formaldehyde. 

Here’s a list of the most dangerous household chemicals.

Lye & Hydrochloric Acid

These two chemicals typically exist in drain cleaners. Lye is a “caustic chemical” that can cause esophagus/stomach damage when ingested.

Meanwhile, hydrochloric acid is very corrosive and can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and digestive tract.

Paints

When buying paints, it’s important to pick products that list all ingredients they contain. Watch out for toxic chemicals that can cause problems for human health and the local environment. 

This includes volatile organic compounds (VOC). The paints emit these gases into the air as soon as you open a paint can. The chemicals can reduce indoor air quality and could cause major health risks.

Another potential problem is VOC paints can also contain preservatives like MI and MCI.

These are strong “biocides” that control/destroy microorganisms such as bacteria. This sounds like a good thing, right? The problem is the preservatives themselves can be toxic.

Formaldehyde/Phenol

These two chemicals exist in air fresheners that people use in homes and vehicles. Formaldehyde functions as a toxic cancer-causing substance, and direct contact can result in blindness.

Meanwhile, when phenol contacts skin it can cause various results like:

Bleach

This is a powerful corrosive that irritates/burns eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. If a person ingests bleach, they can also experience vomiting or coma.

Certain mixtures with bleach, including vinegar and toilet bowl cleaner, can cause toxic fumes. Avoid mixing bleach with ANY acid.

Chlorinated Hydrocarbons

This is found in many pesticides and affects a person’s nervous system. It’s linked to serious health issues like cancer. Chlorinated hydrocarbons are found in fatty tissue and food, and attack people’s nervous systems.

Lead Oil

This is a mixture of linseed oil and white pigments to create a semi-absorbent substance for oil painting. The oil can dry within 2 days to a full week based on various factors like light, humidity, and temperature.

Like other products with lead, lead oil can pose a threat to human health. This is due to lead harming the body’s blood cell production, and calcium absorption for healthy teeth, strong bones, and muscle movements. 

It can also have a negative effect on the function of blood vessels and nerves. High levels of lead intake can cause kidney and brain damage.

Sodium Hypochlorite

This substance has staining properties and is added to mold/mildew cleaners. Sodium hypochlorite is naturally corrosive and irritates/burns skin and eyes. It can also cause fluid buildup in the lungs, which can lead to serious problems like commas.

Battery Acid

Lead acid batteries contain sulfuric acid. This substance is highly corrosive and more dangerous than the acids in most other kinds of batteries. For example, swallowing the battery acid can result in damage to internal organs. When handling sulfuric acid, it’s important to wear protective gear.

Carpet/Upholstery Cleaners

They contain a serious substance known as naphthalene. It’s known to cause liver damage after long-term exposure. The ones added to car cleaners can cause various conditions like:

Mercury

Various items like thermometers, barometers, and batteries contain mercury. The main issue is breathing in mercury vapor. This can cause various health issues related to the digestive, nervous, and immune systems. It can affect your kidneys and lungs. 

Meanwhile, mercury can also provide problems if it contacts the eyes or skin. If you ingest it, you can also experience kidney toxicity.

Ammonia

The super-volatile chemical solution is used as different household cleaners and mostly for glass. These solutions irritate eyes and the respiratory/digestive tracts’ mucous membranes. 

Make sure to avoid mixing ammonia into a liquid with bleach since it could cause a poisonous gas. You should also avoid mixing ammonia with chlorine products/strong oxidants since this can create dangerous chemical compounds.

Acetone

This substance is added to different products like nail polish remover. It can irritate the throat and nose. Meanwhile, acetone can also harm a person’s nervous system at high concentrations. 

Acetone can cause various problems, including:

When people experience major exposure to acetone, this can trigger unconsciousness.

Smoke

You should always take precautions because smoke can contain harmful substances like carbon monoxide. Besides that, you should also watch out for other substances including:

Pesticides

Pesticides can be stored in the human colon, which can gradually poison a person’s body. Several studies show that pesticides are linked to Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), etc. 

Studies also show that pesticides can have a negative effect on the nervous system and reproductive system.

Antifreeze

Swallowing antifreeze can cause damage to kidneys, heart, brain, etc. Meanwhile, inhaling antifreeze can cause dizziness.

Petroleum Distillates

This petroleum product is linked to skin/lung cancers. They can irritate eyes, nose, skin, and lungs. Meanwhile, if they enter the lungs, they can cause a serious lung condition. Petroleum distillates are usually added to furniture and car polishes.

What Happens If Dangerous Household Chemicals Are Not Disposed of Properly?

Water Pollution

The Earth’s rivers, lakes, and seas are swimming in various pollutants, including chemicals, plastic, and waste. Water, like air and food, is critical for human life. However, the world’s population continues to pollute its waterways like oceans, lakes, and rivers.

When pollutants like household chemicals cause water pollution, this puts public health in jeopardy. In fact, studies show that unsafe water kills more people than all wars, according to estimates by the United Nations. 

Another related issue is that humans can only access 1% of the world’s freshwater. Studies also show that contaminants like lead, copper, and arsenic are contained in the tap water of each US state.

Various kinds of household hazardous waste (HHW) can contaminate wastewater treatment systems and septic tanks. 

Water is a “universal solvent” that’s super-vulnerable to pollution. Fun Fact: No other liquid on planet Earth can dissolve more substances than water. HHW can cause various kinds of water contamination including: sewage, wastewater, and agricultural 

Water pollution due to household waste contamination can also cause various results, including human health and the local environment. For example, it’s estimated that contaminated water makes 1 billion people sick every year. 

Meanwhile, water pollution can also affect whole aquatic environments. For example, when HHW enters lakes or seas/oceans, this reduces the water’s oxygen levels due to algae growth.

Toxic Pollution

This type of pollution is contaminated soil, water, and oil that’s dangerous/poisonous. Toxic pollution includes various sources, including industrial and residential sources. This can include chemicals from household products. 

This toxic pollution could contaminate drinking water, fish in rivers/ponds, homes, farmland, and air. People who live in such areas could be exposed to poisons each time they breathe, drink, eat, or bathe. 

Toxic pollution is one of several kinds of pollution. It affects people in various ways that they might not notice quickly. People frequently believe toxic pollution-triggered diseases to be a different cause. The poison often builds up and damages people’s bodies before they receive an illness/disease diagnosis. 

All pollution can cause various health issues related to the immune system, brain, etc. Some of the many illnesses it can cause include lung and heart diseases, and cancer. 

The good news is it’s possible to minimize toxic pollution within this generation. In fact, many industrialized countries have already implemented solutions to reduce toxic pollution.

Waste Disposal Incidents

Buffalo Creek Flood (1972)

This disaster took place in February 1972 when the Pittston Coal Company impounded Dam #3 in West Virginia. The dam burst half a week after a federal mine inspector declared it as “satisfactory.”

The flood released around 132 million gallons of black waste water. It rose over 30 ft. (9.1m) high over the residents living beside Buffalo Creek Hollow. This resulted in 500+ destroyed houses, 4,000 homeless, and 120+ deaths.

Atari Video Game Burial (1983)

The 1980s event involved the mass burial of several video game computers, consoles, and cartridges within a New Mexico landfill site. This was conducted by the US video game company Atari. It was rumored the site included video games, including E.T: the Extra-Terrestrial and Pac-Man.

Atari officials later verified that about 700,000 cartridges, including E.T., were buried at the site. However, only around 1,300 cartridges were excavated. The video games were auctioned off or curated.

Agriculture Street Landfill (1994)

This was a dump located in an area of New Orleans, Louisiana. When it was developed in the future for residential use, this resulted in negative environmental results. In 1994 the Agriculture Street Landfill became one of the nation’s Superfund cleanup sites.

The swampy area was first used as a dump during 1909. This landfill became a major dump in the area for residential/industrial waste. However, it frequently caught fire and became known as “Dante’s Inferno.”

What are common household cleaners that are dangerous when mixed?

It’s important to use household cleaners properly. This involves not blending cleaning agents even if it might seem to produce a superior one. The reason is the risks are too high. Here are some cleaning products you should always avoid mixing:

Hydrogen Peroxide & Vinegar

These two ingredients can be blended to clean surfaces effectively. That said, it’s not really a wise choice. When the two substances are mixed, it creates “peracetic acid.” This is a kind of corrosive substance that could damage the skin, eyes, and lungs. 

In addition, vinegar is a substance that you should use carefully when cleaning. There are some good options when picking eco-friendly cleaning solutions. However, you should contact a professional company if you’re searching for professional fire, mold, and water restoration services.

Bleach & Vinegar

Chlorine gas is the stuff made when blending bleach & vinegar. Just breathing in a small quantity of chlorine gas can trigger breathing problems and irritate a person’s eyes, nose, and throat. When a person is exposed to higher levels, this can result in vomiting, major chest pain, and pneumonia.

Same Cleaning Product By Different Brands

Various companies that make cleaning products like drain cleaner usually don’t include the same ingredients list. So it’s quite risky to blend various cleaners that have the same function. 

Furthermore, if a particular product isn’t working, make sure to avoid using a different one from another manufacturer. If you’re having problems with drain cleaning, for example, a plumber can help to solve problems.

Bleach & Ammonia

When you combine these substances, it produces a toxic gas known as chloramine. It can burn eyes and trigger respiratory damage. Keep in mind that ammonia is a common ingredient in cleaning products. 

So always avoid mixing ammonia products with bleach. When you use bigger quantities of ammonia, this can cause more toxic blends.

Bleach & Rubbing Alcohol

After blending these two products, the substance created is known as “chloroform.” It can cause nausea and dizziness. When people are exposed to high amounts of chloroform it can become fatal. 

Breathing in small quantities of chloroform vapor won’t likely cause you to become unconscious. However, it can damage the skin, eyes, lungs, and nervous system.

Quick Tips for Reducing Toxic Hazardous Waste In Your Home

While it’s a wise choice to dispose of household hazardous waste safely and effectively, you can also reduce the amount from the get-go. This involves reducing how much hazardous waste you generate through your shopping choices. Here are some helpful tips to reduce HHW safely and effectively:

All-purpose cleaners
Bug sprays
Dish soap
Dishwashing machine pods/gels
Insect repellants
Laundry detergent
Toilet cleaners

Conclusion

We use various cleaners and chemicals every day to keep our homes neat and tidy. However, this process can become dangerous if the substances are contacted by skin, inhaled by lungs, or ingested via the digestive system. 

In order to avoid major accidents, it’s critical to follow a product label’s instructions and store chemical products in a safe and effective manner. This is particularly true if kids and/or pets are living in your home. After learning what household chemicals might be harmful if not disposed of properly, this can help to maintain a super-clean and happy home.

Household Hazardous Waste

Correct disposal of household hazardous waste is vital in ensuring a healthy home for our families. Looking beyond our own homes and communities, however, proper management of household hazardous waste also helps preserve the overall quality of our groundwater, lakes, and streams – all of which affect not just human health but also of our environment and wildlife.

This is why any hazardous household waste that our homes produce should never be:

This guide will help you understand what hazardous household waste is, how to correctly dispose of it, and other important tips that will also help you and your family reduce these types of hazardous wastes.

What Is Household Hazardous Waste?

Per recent statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency or the EPA, more than 20 pounds of household hazardous waste are produced each year by the average American household. If you do some quick math – since there are an estimated 126 million households in the US, then that equates to a total of 1,260,000 tons of household hazardous waste. That is a lot of toxic waste produced from home.

But when is household waste considered “hazardous”? According to the EPA, household hazardous wastes are “leftover household products that can catch fire, react, or explode under certain circumstances, or that are corrosive or toxic…”

You may not immediately realize that these types of toxic wastes are present in your own home. But, if you take a careful look around what’s under the kitchen sink or random things you’ve stashed in the basement or attic, you’ll probably find cans of paint, half-empty bug repellent, or perhaps used motor oil. These are just some of the most common types of hazardous household waste that you will need to dispose of properly.

Here we’ve gathered a list of the most common types of household hazardous waste:

Changes in Household Hazardous Waste

With the ever-evolving state of consumerism of the country, Americans’ product preference and usage have also changed drastically. And this is reflected in the demand from waste companies to look for new ways of recycling and hazardous household waste disposal.

In recent years, Americans tend to look for products that are both cost-efficient and technologically advanced. An appropriate example of this is the increase in the demand and consumption of LED lights. As a result, there is a rise in the volume of traditional fluorescent light bulbs and compact fluorescent lights being disposed of and collected by waste companies. 

While the volume of other household hazardous waste products is being maintained each year, we also see a surge in the volume of fluorescent light bulbs and compact fluorescent lights being disposed of. This results in an overall increase in the production of household hazardous wastes. Products used for cleaning, paints, and electronics are still considered as top household hazardous waste in recent years.

Hazardous Waste vs. Universal Waste

The EPA defines hazardous waste as any discard that has unsafe components that can cause damage to human health and the environment. It can be generated from different sectors of society; from manufacturing wastes to residential wastes. Hazardous wastes also come in several forms – solid, gas, liquid, and silt.

There are hazardous wastes that are considered to be a universal waste. They fall into this category because these wastes are not exclusively generated by a single sector of society.  Under the federal universal waste regulations which can be seen in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations in part 273, universal waste can be categorized into four types:

After passing the Universal Waste Law in February 2006, residents and owners of small businesses can no longer dispose of by themselves any waste under the universal waste category (i.e. common batteries, products containing mercury, devices with a cathode-ray tube, and equipment that contain other heavy metal).

Safe Management of Household Hazardous Waste

The inappropriate disposal of these household hazardous waste includes pouring liquid hazardous wastes on the sink, down the drain, or on the ground, and throwing solid hazardous wastes in the regular trash bins. These are obviously the improper method of disposal and may result in environmental pollution and damaging human health.

These are some quick and helpful ways on how to safely handle household hazardous wastes:

Reducing Household Hazardous Waste

To decrease the need to dispose of household hazardous waste, one can opt for environmentally-friendly products that use natural ingredients when shopping for household tools and essentials. There are also DIY recipes found online for common household products such as cleaners, detergents for laundry, dish soaps, pest control, and bug sprays that you can consider as projects to decrease hazardous waste generation in your household.

Listed below are some more ideas to take to reduce hazardous wastes home.

In order to assist consumers and businesses reduce hazardous waste, the EPA also came up with a yearly list of products that have ingredients tested to be safer for the environment and human health.

Household Hazardous Waste Regulations

In the United States, household hazardous wastes are not regulated by the EPA. Most states and their local solid waste management agencies have organized and funded collection programs for the safe and proper hazardous household waste disposal.

Common hazardous waste products in the United States are regulated under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act or RCRA. However, the U.S. Congress has granted exclusions for household waste under Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 261.4. In this regulation, the wastes produced by doing normal household activities are exempted from the definition of hazardous waste. The exclusion may be granted if two criteria are satisfied;

This exclusion includes areas in bunkhouses, picnic grounds, range stations, crew quarters, and areas for day-use recreational activities as per EPA’s interpretation.

Again, the hazardous wastes produced by households are under the state and local level regulations and not by EPA. That is why if you have any specific questions regarding the collection of any hazardous household waste, it’s best to contact your local waste disposal facility for more accurate information.

Where Can I Drop Off My Household Hazardous Waste?

It has been established that household hazardous wastes should be disposed of properly. It should not be put down the drain, on the ground, flushed in the toilet or sewers, and be casually thrown in the trash bins as it may cause potential damage to human health and the environment.

In most states, improper household hazardous waste disposal is illegal. Disposal of such waste must be done through Household Hazardous Waste Programs. You can contact your local authorities for more information regarding your locality’s handling of household hazardous waste. 

The payment for disposing or recycling anything will depend on the waste you are trying to get rid of and the place where you live. You can also look for the nearest household hazardous waste collection facility in your area by going to this site.

COVID-19 Drop HHW Drop Off Tips

Due to the health risks brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, many household hazardous waste disposal facilities are taking extra steps to ensure not just the safety of its staff but also that of yours and your family.

These are the suggested rules to follow as you drop off your household hazardous waste in most facilities:

Make sure to contact your local household hazardous waste disposal facility for their operating hours as it may be affected with Covid-19 related restrictions, as well as for other instructions specified in each state facility.

Conclusion

Knowing the things that you are consuming is as important as having the information on the waste products that your household is producing. There are household wastes that are dangerous for the environment and human health. It can cause leaking, explosion, and other risky incidents. That is why, household hazardous wastes need to be properly used, stored, and disposed of. It is important to read labels for appropriate instructions on handling them. If the need to dispose of them arises, there are local facilities that have the capacity for proper household hazardous waste disposal.

Moreover, there are some ways to reduce the usage of products that contain hazardous ingredients. Consumers can opt to buy products that contain natural ingredients that are environmentally-friendly. You can also create your own natural products to be used in your households. In this way, you know what goes in your household which goes a long way in helping the environment.