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Household Hazardous Waste Disposal

August 11, 2015
A pile of household hazardous waste.

When you think of hazardous waste, you probably envision a slimy green stream of liquid with dramatic plumes of smoke rising from the surface. But did you know that some more common forms of hazardous waste are probably in your house right now? Yikes!

The Georgia Department of Public Health says that some examples of household hazardous waste include:

  • Nail polish

  • Pesticides

  • Drain openers

  • Batteries

These are some specific examples, but there are actually 4 overarching categories that can qualify a material as hazardous waste:

  1. Corrosive: it can damage human tissue.

  2. Ignitable: it can catch fire.

  3. Toxic: causes injury or death if it’s swallowed, inhaled or absorbed.

  4. Reactive: it can cause an explosion.

Unfortunately, many people don’t know that these common household items can be so harmful when poured down the drain.. Did you know that an aerosol can that still has product in it can explode when placed in the garbage truck compactor? Or that just 1 gallon of oil poured on the ground has the capability of contaminating over 1 million gallons of drinking water? These are just a couple of reasons why it’s so important to correctly get rid of your household hazardous waste.

So what’s the right way to get rid of these everyday items? There are a few options for the different kinds of products you may have:

  • For pharmaceutical items, you can participate in your local county’s “drug take back event” where you bring your unused prescription medicines back to a local pharmacy, or follow the Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines for proper disposal.

  • Don’t throw cans of unused paint in the trash. Instead, make them into a solid by adding cat litter or saw dust to the liquid.

  • Wrap old pesticide containers 3 times in plastic wrap before placing in the trash.

  • Evaporate containers of solvents or fuels in well-ventilated areas away from kids or pets before wrapping the empty container 3 times in plastic wrap and placing in the garbage.

  • Find a hazardous waste disposal location near you!

Keep in mind that the best way to prevent household hazardous waste is to choose less toxic materials in your future purchases. Also, you can probably find a neighbor or friend who can use your leftover cleaning materials or other items that might be useful to someone who needs them. Taking a little extra time to correctly get rid of household waste can go a long way towards making our environment a more healthy place to thrive.

About the Author

A Georgia native, Rachael Wheeler works as a Blogger for GeorgiaGov. She writes about a variety of current topics relevant to the Georgia government.

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