Do Your Part: Dispose of Hazardous Waste the Right Way

The identification, safe-handling procedures and proper disposal regulations for many household and industrial products are governed by federal, state and local hazardous waste laws. Hazardous waste can cause injury to people, fish and wildlife if disposed of improperly. The regulation of federal environmental laws is handled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Many products commonly found around the home should be disposed of as hazardous waste and not added to the trash you place at the curb for pickup. The following are just a few of the many household items that municipalities designate for special collections or for drop-off at disposal facilities:

  • Paints, lacquers, thinners and stains
  • Lawn products such as pesticides, fertilizers and defoliants
  • Engine oil, antifreeze and brake fluids
  • Batteries
  • Household cleaners and disinfectants


Handling Hazardous Waste

Cleaners and chemicals should be stored in their original containers or in containers that are clearly marked with the name of the product. Check the container for leaks. A leaking container should immediately be replaced with one that is leak-proof.

Products should be stored according to the label directions and in a location that is out of the reach of children and pets. Do not mix different products, as this could result in an adverse and dangerous chemical reaction. Keep all hazardous materials away from excessive temperature fluctuations, sparks or open flames during storage.

When preparing to transport hazardous materials to a disposal or recycling facility, follow the manufacturer’s instructions contained on the label for safe handling of the product. If you are packing hazardous materials into your car, use the trunk of the vehicle instead of the passenger compartment and make certain the containers cannot fall over while being transported. Windows should be kept open in the vehicle to prevent fumes from building up in the passenger compartment of the vehicle.


Avoid Improper Disposal Methods

Pouring chemicals onto the ground, down the drain or into a sewer can contaminate the ground and the water supply. Improper disposal methods are not only dangerous, but they might also be illegal under federal, state or local laws. If you dispose of toxic waste in the wrong area or by using the wrong methods, you might face environmental crimes accusations. In addition to the fines and penalties imposed for improperly disposing of hazardous waste, the offending party can also be made to pay the costs to remedy the contamination.

Remediation costs can be expensive. The soil that must be removed to clean up a quart of oil spilled onto the ground would fill a 55-gallon drum that must be disposed of as hazardous waste.


Minimize the Hazardous Waste in Your Home

Reading product labels to limit your use of toxic products helps to minimize the hazardous waste your household generates. Purchase products that have a limited shelf-life, such as brake fluid, in smaller quantities to avoid having to dispose of large amounts of outdated products.

Have a talk with Rand Mintzer at 713-862-8880 to learn more about environmental laws and regulations.