Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hazardous Wastes

What is household hazardous waste?

Household hazardous wastes are leftover products that can poison living organisms. Waste can also be corrosive (eat away at surfaces, including skin) and flammable. Wastes can also be hazardous when they react violently when mixed with other agents or when placed under heat or pressure.

Examples of household hazardous wastes include:


* Cleaners

* Waxes

* Detergents

* Cosmetics

* Prescriptions

* Solvents

* Alkyd & Lead based paints

* Pesticides

* Oil & Grease

* Batteries

Why should we be concerned?

Many common household products contain hazardous chemicals. Once released into the environment, these substances may pose a serious threat to living organisms. Small quantities of hazardous substances can accumulate over time to reach dangerous levels and contaminate our air, water, and soil.

Others can have a more immediate and devastating effect, such as poisoning. Pesticides, fertilizers and other products can wash off lawns and gardens into storm drains and streams, polluting water.

Chemicals from hazardous wastes buried in unsecured landfills (or in our backyards) can leach out and move through the soil, eventually entering ground water. Leaving chemicals in your garage or outside storage areas can also be dangerous if discovered by your children.

How do we dispose of our HHW?

Keep materials in their original containers, or ensure that the containers are clearly labeled. Please do not mix different products together and make sure the caps are tightly sealed. There is no charge for disposing your HHW, so bring them to the Lower Base Transfer Station (household items only). Most of the waste will be recycled into new products. The rest will be forwarded for safe disposal at the Marpi landfill.

What else can we do?

After taking the first step to properly dispose of our HHW, the next thing we can do is learn more about safer alternatives available for household cleaning, home improvement and garden care. Safe alternatives include baking soda, pure soap, white vinegar, borax, and washing soda. Baking soda is an excellent scouring powder, deodorizer, and water softener. White vinegar deodorizes and cuts grime and grease. Borax disinfects, cleans, and softens water. Washing soda removes stains, disinfects, and cuts grease.

There are other things we can do too:

* Be a wise consumer - buy only the amount of product you need.

* If you do use a hazardous product, make sure to use it all up.

* If you cannot use the entire product, give the leftovers to someone who can.

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