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Reduce Household Hazardous Waste & Have A Healthy Home, Too!

Reduce Household Hazardous Waste & Have A Healthy Home, Too!

A number of commonly used household products are actually very toxic and should be avoided.  Residue from these wastes are among the most difficult problems associated with landfills.  Additionally, many of these products raise serious health concerns around the house. These products can also cause problems for emergency responders should there be a fire or other emergency. 

Commonly Used Household Hazardous Waste

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Alkaline Batteries Problems: Emit mercury if burned Alternatives: Place in regular trash use rechargeable
Bug Killers Problems: Petroleum insecticides are all toxic. Some also cause long-term health problems associated with the nervous & reproductive systems.  A few also increase cancer risk Alternatives: Biological controls Plant-derived insecticide prevention
Disenfectants, Mothballs & Furniture Polish Problems: Benzene and ethylene glycol chemicals cause liver and kidney damage. Alternatives: Borex and hot water, cedar chips, lemon juice & vegetable oil.
Drain Openers Problems: Cause severe skin burns or eye irritation Alternatives: Baking soda & vinegar plungers.
Lead Acid Batteries Problems: Contain lead and sulfuric acid Alternatives: Recycle, never store outside
Motor Oil Problems: Pollutes surface and groundwater. Contains benzene & heavy metals. Alternatives: Never dump on ground or in water, recycle. Take car to service stations.
Ni-Cad Batteries (rechargeable) Problems: Contain Cadmium Alternatives: Recycle at Wal*Mart & Radio Shack.
Oil Paints, Paints, Varnishes & Nail Polishes Problems: Most solvents in these products are central nervous system depressants. Alternatives: Latex (water-based) paints, solvent free paints.
Solvents & Thinners Problems: Many of these can cause nervous system and liver damage. Alternatives: Biodegradable solvents. Water based products.
Treated Wood & Preservatives Problems: Creosole & Arsenic compounds are known cancer causers Alternatives: Rot-resistant woods. Recycled Plastic "Lumber" Natural Wood Treatments
Weed Killers & Lawn Chemicals Problems: Most herbicides are proven or suspected cancer causes. Phenoxy2 (an Agent Orange relative) also causes nervous & Reproductive problems. Alternatives: Hand pulling of weeds or higher cutting discourages broadleaf weeds. Enjoy spring time color of dandelions


Not all batteries are the same, so they need to be disposed of differently.  Alkaline batteries, used mostly in toys and flashlights, can be thrown away with your regular trash.  Nickel Cadmium batteries (Ni-Cads) can be recycled.  Drop-off locations is at Radio Shack and Wal-Mart.  Lead-acid batteries (automotive, motorcycle, etc.) should be taken to any store that sells lead-acid batteries.  If you are purchasing a new one, a discount may be given off the purchase of the new battery when you return the old one.


Paint is the most common household product that becomes household hazardous waste. Paint contains harmful substances that can be dangerous to our health and the environment if not used, stored, and disposed of properly.

Oil-based paint can be good for up to 15 years.  Latex paint is usable if it is less than 10 years old and has not been repeatedly frozen and thawed.  If the paint will mix when you stir, it is probably usable.

The best way to dispose of paint is to use the paint.  If you cannot use the paint, try giving it to someone who can.

  • Theater Groups
  • Church Groups
  • Shelters for people in need
  • Community organization
Tips For Storage & Disposal of Liquid Paint
  • When storing paint, make sure lids are on tight.  Label the top of each can with the color name and date purchased.
  • Do not pour paint down household drains.  Many of the chemicals in paint cannot be treated by sewage treatment systems or septic systems.
  • Do not throw liquid paint in the trash.  There is always the possibility that the paint will be released from the can.  Then the paint could be exposed to certain chemicals and cause spontaneous combustion.
  • Solidify first, then dispose of paint.  Paint is hazardous in its liquid form.  If only a small amount of paint is left, simply remove the lid (outside, with good ventilation) and let dry. Then the empty can may be put out for trash disposal, or, if recycling is available, the can may be recycled with metal cans.  If you have more paint than will dry easily, there are various ways to dispose of it.
  • Get a sturdy cardboard box and fill with clay-based kitty litter, pour the paint onto the kitty litter and let dry.  Then dispose of this dried mixture with your trash.
  • Some local hardware and paint stores carry a paint solidifier.  Simply purchase, follow directions and when paint is dried put out for trash collection.