Frequent Questions

What materials are not safe to throw in my trash?

Chances are, there are certain items or products in your house that you should not throw out in the trash. Many common household items, such as paint, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides, contain hazardous components. Leftover portions of these products are called household hazardous waste (HHW). These products, if mishandled, can be dangerous to human health and the environment. 

Certain types of HHW can cause physical injury to sanitation workers, contaminate septic tanks or wastewater treatment systems if poured down drains or toilets, and present hazards to children and pets if left around the house. Some communities have special programs that allow residents to dispose of HHW separately. Others allow disposal of properly prepared HHW in trash, particularly those areas that do not yet have special HHW collection programs in place. Call your local Department of Sanitation or Department of Public Works for instructions on proper disposal. Follow their instructions and also read product labels for disposal directions to reduce the risk of products exploding, igniting, leaking, mixing with other chemicals, or posing other hazards on the way to a disposal facility. Even empty containers that used to contain HHW can pose hazards because of the residual chemicals inside. 

Find more information on household hazardous waste and its safe disposal. You can also visit Earth911Exit EPA, type in your zip code and waste type to find local places in your area that will accept HHW.

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