A Basic Primer on Household Hazardous Waste

Hazardous Waste

How much do you know about household hazardous waste? You may have heard the term, but were left uncertain about what this waste consists of. To put it simply, household hazardous waste consists of products that are used by a standard homeowner and then discarded of when they are no longer good or needed. Since these products contain chemicals and things that can be very dangerous (although they might have started out differently when they were new) the end results are hazardous, meaning that they need to be discarded of very carefully.

What Is Household Hazardous Waste?

There are several different categories of household hazardous waste. In general, these items can be broken down into things that are toxic, corrosive, flammable and reactive. Disposable trash in the toxic category include soaps, cleaning solutions, paints, and motor oil. Some it can be reactive as well, especially when these things are combined. For example, a bottle now holds a very small amount of bleach is toxic, and when it’s combined with other bottles that also held different types of cleaning solutions, they can be reactive.

Corrosive waste, such as batteries, can be found in many things. The parts of your computer, cell phone, and other electronics can be corrosive once they no longer function properly. In addition, standard batteries, like the ones that go into smoke detectors and remote controls, are also corrosive. As they age, the chemicals inside of them will break down, leaving them likely to rust and leak. Many corrosive items are flammable as well. For example, if you place a dead battery near a piece of discarded metal, it will spark and possibly cause a fire.

In addition to those types of household hazardous waste, there are others, including light bulbs, antifreeze, pesticide, and more. You’d be surprised at how many things in your home can be dangerous once you’re done with them!

How to Dispose of Your Hazardous Waste

Disposing of your household hazardous waste can be tricky. Some items, like light bulbs, can be taken back to the store where you purchased them. The stores will dispose of them safely. Many home improvement stores have this type of policy in place. Other things, such as standard batteries, can be tossed into your regular garbage. They’ll be sorted out at the waste management facility. You can do the same with near-empty bottles of cleaning solutions.

However, if you have a lot of household hazardous waste, you’ll need to contact your local waste management facility. They usually have places that you can take these things to at no extra charge. The workers there will dispose of them safely. In addition, some states do electronics recycling, where they’ll take old computers and gadgets apart in order to get rid of their harmful batteries and components properly. It all depends on where you live.

Hopefully, this has answered many of your questions about household hazardous materials. The more that you know about them, the better you’ll be able to get rid of them in a manner that’s safe for everyone.

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