What is Hazardous Waste?Hazardous Materials Outside the Home. It’s easy to get rid of hazardous wastes from your house and garage. But what about that pile of old paint, cleaning products and other chemicals at work? WLSSD’s Clean Shop program is an easy disposal option for Minnesota businesses with small amounts of hazardous waste. Clean Shop staff can also help you find other disposal resources if you have restricted materials or quantities too large for the program to handle. The Clean Shop program has successfully helped hundreds of businesses properly dispose of hazardous wastes. Whether you have an old chemistry lab to clean out, surplus materials from a construction job to get rid of or have stockpiled a couple hundred fluorescent tubes, the Clean Shop can help you dispose of these materials so you can keep your employees and the environment safe from harm.
By: Lorilee Blais, Living North
When you look at the cleaning supplies stashed under your kitchen sink
or the pile of paint cans in your garage or basement, what do they
make you think? How about the bags of weedkiller and fertilizer?
These items are more than clutter you need to tackle and they are likely hazardous too.
What does “hazardous” mean? Most importantly, hazardous means the item has
the potential to harm your family or the environment. The easiest way to know if a household product is hazardous is to look at the label. Look for words such as flammable, dangerous, poison, caution, toxic or corrosive. Although there are other key words, these are the most common indicators of a hazardous product. It may be surprising, but many household cleaning products, lawn care products, paints, solvents and even nail polish are considered hazardous.
Hazardous products should be used with care and disposed of properly. It’s most important to keep children safe by storing hazardous products out of their reach. Be sure to use products according to label instructions to avoid risking your health or the health of others.
It’s also extremely important to keep our environment safe by disposing of these materials properly. Leftover hazardous products should never be thrown in the trash. It’s not only unsafe for people and the environment, disposing of these items in the trash is also illegal. To properly dispose of hazardous products, bring them to a household hazardous waste facility or collection event.
In the Northland, we are fortunate to have a permanent household hazardous
waste facility where we can dispose of any number of hazardous materials. Residents in other areas can drop off their items during special collection events. WLSSD’s Regional Household Hazardous Waste Facility in Duluth takes hazardous wastes at no charge to residents, regardless of where they live. It’s easy and it’s free! Just visit the drive-through facility, drop off your materials with the attendant, provide your zip code and you’re done. The facility is open year-round to help make your home healthier for your family and the environment.
As you clear out the clutter this spring, it’s a great time to consider switching to some safer, nonhazardous alternatives for cleaning your home. Baking soda and vinegar are good not only for cooking, but are also great for cleaning. A quick online search will lead to a host of Web sites for effective, natural cleaning recipes using common household items. Many local stores also carry safer, alternative products for general household cleaning.
Some products, such as fluorescent lamps, can be safer for the environment but also contain hazardous substances. Fluorescent lighting saves money on electric bills and replacement costs. Air emissions and use of resources are also reduced when less electricity is used. However, fluorescent lamps also contain a small amount of mercury, so they should never be put in the trash.
Fluorescent lamps, whether they are tubes, compact styles or otherwise advertised as safer, all contain mercury. Mercury is hazardous and must be disposed of properly. Many local hardware stores will collect fluorescent lamps for recycling. Otherwise, WLSSD’s Household Hazardous Waste Facility is an easy, free option for recycling.
So, next time you’re cleaning out unwanted products from your home, be sure to look at the label. Disposing of hazardous product properly can help keep your family, neighbors and the environment safe and healthy.
Lorilee Blais is an Environmental Program Coordinator for the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District.