Household hazardous waste (or HHW, for short) is not only a problem when it is in your home. It can also pose a problem when it is thrown out. For example, throwing away an item like used motor oil can be dangerous and wasteful. It can be dangerous if it is spilled or poured onto the ground, and it becomes wasteful when used motor oil isn’t cleaned in a factory by a process known as “re-refining” for reuse. Your family can avoid both problems by properly disposing of used motor oil so that it will be recycled.
In addition to motor oil, HHW also includes many items that are often found in and around your home, such as oil-based paint, paint thinner, antifreeze, old gasoline or kerosene, weed and bug killers, plant foods, tub and tile cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, hobby glues, nail polish, and remover, fluorescent light tubes and bulbs (like twisty CFLs), and mercury-containing items.
Please don’t ever dump these items onto the ground, pour them down the drain, or put them into the trash! HHW contains chemicals that can harm the workers who handle your trash and can pollute soil and water. HHW needs to be handled at special facilities where the chemicals can be recycled or disposed of safely.
There is a safe way to dispose of HHW — look for HHW collections or “Tox-Away Days” in your community. Contact your local solid waste authority for these opportunities and instructions on proper disposal where you live.
For alternatives to household cleaners that become HHW, check out Make Your Home Toxic-free.
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