The Dangers of Hazardous Waste Around the House
When we hear “hazardous waste,” orange rivers of industrial sludge usually come to mind. But there are several common, everyday products in every home that are hazardous for humans and pets. They’re toxic. They could catch fire, explode, or corrode. They’re in your kitchen cupboards and your garage. You might accumulate as much as 100 pounds of household hazardous waste (HHW), according to the EPA. Do you know what they are and how to handle them safely?
What Hazards are Lurking in Your House?How can you tell if something is hazardous? Check product labels for words like “caution,” “warning,” “danger,” “flammable,” and “poisonous.” Put your own big “TOXIC!” label on the container as a reminder; some warning text is in small print. If you see one of those words or something similar, you should handle and dispose of it with extra care. Common hazardous products found in the average American home include:
- Light bulbs
- Oils and automotive products
Safe HandlingExtra care and attention is required while handling hazardous products. It’s a good idea to shop smart and choose less hazardous products when possible. Before using products with possibly hazardous ingredients, read the instructions on the container for storage information, dangers, and safe handling and disposal. Also, remember to:
- Keep it in the original container until use. Do not put it in food containers.
- Do not remove the labels; they contain important information.
- Never mix hazardous products together. You might get a violent reaction!
- Use hazardous chemicals in well-ventilated areas.
- Use gloves and eye protection.
- Don’t smoke, eat, or drink when using hazardous products.
- Be careful with empty containers as there may be chemical residue.
Safe DisposalProducts containing hazardous ingredients cannot be thrown away like other things in your home. They can harm children and pets, contaminate septic tanks, pollute wastewater treatment systems, and injure sanitation workers. Don’t:
- Pour it down the drain
- Dump it on the ground
- Spill it into storm sewers
- Put it out with the regular trash