A Guide to Household Hazardous Waste

Every day items that people use are not often thought of as potentially hazardous materials. These items are typically things people clean with, use for their car maintenance, paint with, or could include batteries and certain light bulbs. The reality is, however, that a lot of the things people utilize in their daily life can actually be bad for them or for the environment. The definition of household hazardous waste is anything that is corrosive, toxic, flammable, or poisonous and is contained in a household item and can be thrown away or accidentally dumped or even ingested. For example, certain new eco friendly light bulbs can contain mercury. If the light bulb breaks, it can be poisonous to pets and humans. These light bulbs should also not be thrown in the trash because the mercury they contain can pollute the earth, groundwater, and animals. Other hazardous items can include a wide variety of cleaning solutions like drain cleaners, pesticides, solvents, paints, furniture polishes, antifreeze, bleach, and many more. Of course, all of these are toxic if ingested, so they should be kept away from small children and pets. Batteries are also something to consider when it comes to hazardous waste. They contain lead which is extremely corrosive and toxic.

Fortunately, there are ways to safely and effectively eliminate many of the dangers that accompany household hazardous waste. Home improvement stores now offer recycling programs for batteries and mercury-filled light bulbs. Some even offer customers a discount on their next purchase for bringing in these items for recycling. Office supply stores offer recycling programs for printer ink and computer monitors, which contain high levels of toxins. Many people may not know that computer monitors contain harmful elements. There are also many local government sponsored programs that can assist people with properly disposing of hazardous items. Check with the local city or county to find out when the next sponsored recycling day is. Usually the city will allow citizens to dispose of their items for free, all safely in one place. If these items are not disposed of properly, there can be a number of environmental problems. First, the corrosive or toxic material they contain can get into the local drinking water. It can also harm fish and birds. The material can also enter the air when burned and cause problems for the local community in terms of pubic safety because of the risk of flame or explosives. Discarded chemicals can get into the ground, and water runoff then goes back into the sewer system with those harmful chemicals. By discarding of these seemingly harmless items, the community will be a safer, cleaner place to live in.

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