The Environmental Protection Agency says Americans generate more than 1.6 million tons of household hazardous waste per year. Hazardous household items include automotive fluids, lawn and garden products, medicine and pool chemicals. And most homes will accumulate as much as 100 pounds of these materials in the basement or garage.
The average home in Tennessee produces 20 pounds of household hazardous waste annually. More than 1.7 million pounds of household hazardous waste and 324,000 pounds of electronics were collected from 24,938 households at collection events across the state last year.
Pouring these household wastes down the drain or on the ground, or putting them out with the trash can endanger the health and safety of sanitation workers. They also can contaminate septic tanks or wastewater treatment systems if poured down drains or toilets, not to mention create a safety hazard to children and pets if left unattended around the house.
Homeowners should store products containing hazardous substances very carefully. Never mix household hazardous wastes with other products. Doing so could result in extremely toxic and explosive mixtures.
The EPA also advises homeowners to call their local environmental, health or solid waste agency to learn about local household hazardous waste disposal programs and upcoming collection days. When transporting these items to the disposal site, place containers in sturdy boxes lined with newspaper to prevent spills and cross contamination.
These materials should be kept in the original container if possible. If not, put it in a plastic jug with a secure lid and label the contents.
For more information concerning the proper disposal of these items, go to epa.org and click on the link to household hazardous waste.