Handling Hazardous Waste

Hazardous substances have dangerous effects on humans or the environment. Many forms of waste are hazardous, whether they are chemicals from a production factory or chemicals in your own home (for example, some kinds of paint). Hazardous waste can be solid, liquid, or gas.

For some substances, there are EPA laws you must follow for proper disposal. Hazardous waste in homes include chemicals and materials that are flammable, highly toxic, or potentially explosive. Let's examine some examples of household waste and how they should be handled.

Hazardous Waste in Homes 

Hazardous materials found in homes include weed killers, toilet bowl cleaners, spray paint, rust remover, paint thinner, oven clear, oil-based paints, nail polish, nail polish remover, motor oil, mothballs, hair color dye, furniture polish, fluorescent lights, fertilizer, drain cleaner, charcoal, household batteries, automotive fluids,and ammonia. To properly dispose of a hazardous waste in your home, always check with EPA law and local city or county disposal laws. These may vary. For many of these substances, the proper procedure is to take them to your local hazardous waste drop-ff site. It's easy to look up these places by calling your city or county or searching the web. 

Breakdown of Hazardous Waste

You may wonder what happens to hazardous waste after it is dropped off at the facility. Depending on the substance, it may be dealt with in a number of ways. A few examples are household batteries, pharmacy medications, fluorescent lamps, and pesticides. Household batteries are shipped to other facilities that break them down into the different metals and plastics, which are then reclaimed for reuse. In this way, they are recycled. Prescription medications are broken down out of pill or bottle form and sent to landfills. Fluorescent lamps go through a factory breakdown system that crushes the glass, contains the mercury, and separates the materials to be recycled. In highly controlled environments, pesticides are destroyed by extremely high heat. Toxins are removed though various cleaning mechanisms and anything leftover is sent to the landfill. 

Things to Consider 

Hazardous wastes are a big deal, and not disposing of them properly can lead to terrible toxins being released into the environment. What can you do? Find out what hazardous materials are in your home and follow disposal instructions on the containers or online from the EPA or your city or county website.

Here are a few common mistakes you can avoid. First, never throw away household batteries. They will end up poisoning the landfill instead of being reused. Second, never dump extra chemicals like glass cleaner, paints, or pesticides down a drain, into a sewer, or into the ground. If you do, the toxic chemicals may wind up in the natural water table or the septic system. We can all have a cleaner environment if we all pitch in. 

To learn more about this process, contact local hazardous waste management companies.