Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Spring Cleaning: How to Dispose of Household Hazardous Materials

Through the years, we end up accumulating toxic products in our homes. In an effort to clean out my environment as part of making myself healthy again, I decided to take care of hazardous materials lying around the side of my house,  inside the house, and in my garage. These are things that cannot just be thrown out into the trash bins because of their toxic components. 

I did some research to find out how to properly dispose of my hazardous household materials, which were remnants of materials used in the last remodeling project, plus the other things I had been using at home. If you are from Orange County, CA, visit for the disposal of these items. Or, google "how to dispose of household hazardous waste" and look for the information for where you live. Here is the information I gathered from this link:

What is Household Hazardous Waste? "Leftover household products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or reactive ingredients are considered to be 'household hazardous waste' or 'HHW.'... require special care when you dispose of them. Improper disposal of household hazardous wastes can include pouring them down the drain, on the ground, into storm sewers, or in some cases putting them out with the trash...improper disposal of these wastes can pollute the environment and pose a threat to human health. Additional HHW services may be available through your City. Contact your City’s Recycling Coordinator to find out other ways to dispose of your household hazardous waste items in your community." Here is their list of items.
What to bring to the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center:

Cleaning Products 
Bleach (laundry)                        Toilet cleaners
Drain cleaners                           Tub, tile, shower cleaners
Oven cleaners                            Wood and metal cleaners and polishes
Pool chemicals                           
Lawn and Garden Products 
Fungicides/wood preservatives      Herbicides     Insecticides
Workshop/Painting Supplies 
Adhesives and glues                   Paint strippers and removers 
Aerosol cans                               Paint thinners and turpentine
Fixatives and other solvents       Photographic chemicals 
Furniture strippers                      Stains and finishes 
Oil or enamel-based paint 
Batteries                                          Mercury thermostats or thermometers
thermometers                                  Sharps (hypodermic needles, pen 
Compact Fluorescent Tubes               needles, intravenous needles,
Driveway sealer                                   lancets)
Fluorescent light bulbs 
Automotive Products
Air conditioning refrigerants                     Fuel additives
Antifreeze                                                 Motor oil 
Automotive batteries                                Starter fluids 
Carburetor and fuel injection cleaners     Transmission and brake fluid 
Indoor Pesticides
Ant sprays and baits                         Houseplant insecticides
Bug sprays                                        Moth repellents
Cockroach sprays and baits              Mouse and rat poisons and baits
Flea repellents and shampoos 
Other Flammable Products 
CO2 cartridges (lecture bottle or smaller)  Home heating oil
Diesel fuel                                                   Kerosene  
Fire Extinguishers under 40 lbs.                 Lighter fluid
Gas/oil mix                                                  Propane tanks (5-gallon or smaller)
Helium tanks
Alarm clocks                                             Microwave ovens (home use)
Blood glucose monitors (sterilized)           PDAs 
Camcorders                                              Programmable kitchen appliances 
CD players                                                Pagers
Cell phones                                               Printer/scanner/fax
Computer monitors (CRTs & flat               Radios of all types (car & home)
screens)                                                    Stereos (no speakers)
Computers/CPUs/laptops*                        Telephones & answering machines
Copiers (home use, desktop)                    Televisions (CRTs & flat screens)
Digital cameras*                                        VCRs
Digital thermometers                                 Home-use medical monitors
Display boards on exercise equipment      Walkie-talkies
DVD players                                               I-Pods & MP3 players*
Hand-held electronic devices                   
Video game consoles & accessories
Remove data before disposal. 
HHW Collection Centers cannot accept the following items:
Asbestos                            High-pressure cylinders (acetylene,
Ammunition                           oxygen, air tanks—SCUBA or SCBA)
Biological waste                Radioactive materials
Commercial Waste            Tires 

From the list, I dentified the things I had no longer any use for. To start with I gathered the  cans of left-over paint; polyurethane to seal concrete patio (which I decided not to use); hydrochloric acid for cleaning stains on concrete surfaces; barbecue fluid lighter; natural stone sealant; some cleaning (chemical) agents; a bagful of dead batteries; some incandescent light bulbs and a fluorescent bar light.

When going to the landfill,  there is a procedure to follow. In the one I went to, I had to drive up to the gate, turned off the engine of the car, opened the trunk, and remained in the vehicle. A technician came around to unload the stuff from my trunk. Then I drove away. Or, park if you want to check a section - Materials Exchange Program - where you can take up to 5 free items from a selection of partially used containers of products  for  the house, the yard, and car care.

There is another carload waiting to be transported. In the meantime, I am using more natural, healthier, environmentally friendlier materials to clean my house. This is part of my effort to minimize inhaling or having contact with chemicals, as much as possible, which have been killing some of my brain cells and settling in and delibitating my liver. Hopefully, my memory will reverse it's forgetful trend, soon.

Among the manufacturers of environmentally friendly household cleaning products are Seventh Generation and Melaleuca. Or, you can start making your own. There are recipes and instructions in these sites:

Let's all take the steps in making the air we breath cleaner, at least, in our homes. 

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