There are chemicals around the home that are toxic to people and the environment, these are the hazardous wastes. Hazardous waste is anything that is toxic, flammable, volatile, corrosive, or reacts with other substances to become dangerous.
Examples of these would be oven cleaners, floor wax, paint, and polish. Checking the labels will help you decide if the item is hazardous or not. If the item contains lye, phenols, petroleum, distillates, or trichlorobenzene then it probably is hazardous.
Many of the products used in a home (soaps, cleaners, etc.) are meant to be dumped down the drain. These will biodegrade if the waste water is treated properly and cause no problems with the environment. The best way to avoid having to dispose of hazardous waste is to avoid buying it.
There are a number of alternatives out there with less toxic chemicals. When you feel you must use a certain product that contains hazardous chemicals you should only purchase as much as you need. Read the label and follow the directions for use, storage, and disposal.
Home maintenance products are among the most hazardous chemicals in the home. An example would be paints, preservatives, strippers, and solvents. There are varying degrees of danger. For example latex or water-based paints are less toxic than oil and enamel paints but still should be disposed of properly.
All left over products and empty containers should be disposed of as per the label on the item. These items should never be poured down the drain or into storm drains.
Things You Can Do
- Buy only the amount you need.
- Contact the county or municipality for the locations of hazardous waste disposal sites.
- Do not pour hazardous products down the storm drains because what enters the drains flows right to the water body, it does not go to a water treatment plant.
- Make sure all hazardous materials are used, stored, and disposed of properly. Read the label.
- Try to use natural or less toxic alternatives.