Household Hazardous Wastes

If a used or unwanted substance or chemical can harm people, the public, or the environment, it is considered a hazardous waste. The EPA has lists many household items as being hazardous waste. Here are five examples of common household hazardous wastes as well as how to dispose of them. Last, we will discuss disposal of prescription medications. This information should prove useful in the exercise of proper hazardous waste management.  

  1. Oil Based Paints are dangerous because they are flammable and contain many toxic chemicals. According to a web source, you must bring old oil-based paint to a disposal facility that will accept it. Call your city or county, or check the government website, to find out if there is such a facility near you.  
  2. Latex based paints are not as dangerous as oil based and can be thrown away by dumping the extra paint into a cardboard box and letting it all dry, or by using up all the paint on rolls of newspaper and throwing those away. Do not pour extra paint down a drain or anywhere outside. The cans from latex paint can be recycled. If you don't want to throw away extra latex paint, check with organizations and charities to see if anyone can use it. 
  3. Nail Polish Remover is otherwise known as the chemical acetone. This chemical is highly toxic if ingested and the liquid as well as fumes catch fire easily. Extra nail polish remover should be taken to a hazardous waste disposal facility as it is considered hazardous by the EPA. Do not pour nail polish remover down the drain.
  4. Bleach is toxic, irritating to skin, and its chemicals can have powerful reactions with other chemicals, as noted in a web PDF. It is alright to flush bleach down the toilet. However, be sure to flush it with a large amount of water. The PDF source provides information on disposal of many other household cleaners as well. 
  5. Motor Oil is toxic and if you have extra you do not plan to use, offer it to friends or back to the company. If nobody accepts it, take it to a hazardous waste facility. When you change your motor oil, collect the used oil so it does not get washed into the sewers or harm the environment. The used oil can be brought to a hazardous waste facility. According to an article, used motor oil can also be reused as another form of oil, so see if there is a business near you that accepts recycled oil.    

Prescription Drugs

Old or unwanted medications can be thrown in the trash, but there are certain precautions you should consider when you do this. Use permanent marker or paint to blot out your information on the label as well as the name of the medication. These measures serve to protect your private information and to discourage anyone from taking pills out of a dumpster. You can also remove pills from the bottle entirely and mix them in with other trash like cat litter, coffee grounds, or spoiled food. This will prevent anyone from taking the pills once they have been thrown away. Do not drop pills down a drain and do not flush them down the toilet.