(Adapted from the Household Hazardous Waste "Fact Sheet" distributed by CalRecyle.)
What are household hazardous wastes? When leftover paint, used oil, pool chemicals, or any other product containing potentially dangerous materials need to be disposed of, they become "household hazardous wastes."
Household hazardous waste is any material discarded from homes that may threaten human health or the environment when disposed of improperly. Californians throw away tons of hazardous waste in trash cans or down the drains each year. Many of these chemicals are so corrosive they can destroy steel or plastic containers and seep into groundwater supplies. Potential hazardous chemicals found in materials are:
The poison symbol is self-explanatory. Poisonous or lethal when ingested, touched or inhaled, even in small quantities. Examples include rat poison, pesticides, cleaning fluids and bleach.
Flammable & Explosive
Easily ignites. This category includes lighter fluid, paint remover and most solvents. These chemicals should be stored in flame-resistant cupboards. Volatile solvents can be a particular problem as they are prone to spread around from unsealed containers. This category also covers pyrophoric materials that catch fire spontaneously on exposure to air.
Will destroy or irreversibly damage another substance, such as living tissue, with direct contact. Hazards include damage to eyes and skin but ingestion or inhalation is very dangerous. Avoid contact. Examples of corrosive products are oven cleaning and toilet cleaning products.
Oxidizing chemicals are materials that spontaneously evolve oxygen at room temperature or with slight heating, or that promote combustion. Examples include bleach and hydrogen peroxide. Keep these materials segregated and avoid storing with flammable chemicals!
May react violently when exposed to heat or or other substances; may also be toxic to humans or other living things.
Words to watch for on labels include:
- "Danger" or "poison" which refer to hazardous or highly toxic products.
- "Caution" and "Warning" are often used interchangeably and mean that the product is less hazardous but sill presents potential health hazards.
Improper handling or disposal of hazardous chemicals can result in serious accidents:
- Children can be seriously harmed by drinking, eating, touching, or breathing toxic chemicals.
- Refuse haulers and disposal site workers can be injured by exploding aerosol cans, splashing chemicals, or poisonous fumes created by mixed chemicals.
- Firefighters can be injured by these chemicals when responding to a fire.
- Groundwater used for drinking or irrigation can be contaminated when waste products are poured onto or seep into the ground.
- Bacteria needed to break down sewer and septic tank wastes can be destroyed by untreated hazardous wastes.
Household hazardous waste should never be thrown into the trash, washed down the drain, or poured onto the ground. Improper handling or disposal of hazardous chemicals can result in serious accidents.
- Never leave hazardous household products within reach of children.
- Buy products with less-harmful ingredients (read the labels).
- Do not dispose of products in the trash, on the ground, or in storm drains.
- Do not remove labels, and do not remove products from their original containers.
- Do not refill empty containers unless the label recommends it.
Reduce by purchasing only the amount you need.
Reuse the products by donating unused portions to friends, community organizations, or take them to the Household Hazardous Waste Consolidation Facility by the Stockton Airport. The products will be made available to the public for FREE. Just ask to see the Reuse Room!
Recycle by taking products such as used motor oil and batteries to a recycling center.
If any products cannot be reused, recycled, or properly disposed of in your trash, store them safely in their original containers away from food, pets, and children, then take them to the Household Hazardous Waste Consolidation Facility.
In the Home
Household cleaners can contain chemicals that are toxic, corrosive, and sometimes flammable.
- Abrasive cleanser
- Scouring powder
- Ammonia-based cleaner
- Chlorine bleach
- Bleach-based cleaner
- Drain opener
- Glass cleaner
- Oven cleaner
- Rug and upholstery cleaner
- Spot Remover
- Toilet bowl cleaner
- Silver polish
- Aerosol spray cans
- air freshener
- hair spray
- bug killer
- Syringes (sharps), in sealed, heavy plastic or metal containers
- Floor polish
- Furniture polish
- Nail polish and remover
- Shoe polish
In the Garage
Aside from choosing water-based paint over solvent-based paint, or using elbow grease rather than paint stripper. Hazardous auto and paint products in general, have few known alternatives. However, some of these products such as latex paint, motor oil, anti-freeze, and auto batteries can be recycled.
Paint products can contain chemicals that are toxic and flammable.
- Enamel or oil-based paint
- Latex or water-based paint
- Furniture stripper
- Paint stripper
- Rust prevention products
- Thinner, solvent, and turpentine
- Wood preservative
Automotive products can contain chemicals that are toxic, corrosive, and flammable.
- Motor oil
- Auto and motorcycle batteries
- Car wax
- Engine cleaner and degreaser
- Gasoline and diesel fuel
- Auto paint and primer
- Transmission fluid
- Brake fluid
- Power steering fluid
In and Around the Yard
Most households also employ a variety of hazardous products in their yards, especially their garden areas. Less-toxic alternatives are available for many of the fertilizers and pesticides listed below. Check out our BUGS (Beneficial Urban Garden Strategies) book for extensive less-toxic or natural remedies and tips for garden pests and weeds.
Pesticide and garden products can contain chemicals that are toxic and sometimes flammable.
- Chemical fertilizer
- Herbicide and weed killer
- Insecticide or bug killer
- Flea collars, sprays, and bombs
- Rodent poisons
- Roach and ant killers
- Snail and slug bait
Pool and hobby products can contain chemicals that are Toxic, Explosive, and Corrosive.
- Artist and model paint
- Firearm cleaning solvent
- Photographic chemicals
- Solvent-based glue
- Pool chemicals, including disinfectants and PH balancing chemicals
NO explosives, radioactive materials, medical waste, sewage, solar panels, controlled substances, refrigerating units, gas powered tools, air conditioning units, tires, large appliances, and large compressed gas cylinders are accepted at the Household Hazardous Waste Facility.