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Household Hazardous Waste
What is household hazardous waste?
Many household products contain the same chemicals that are strictly regulated within industrial waste steams and pose environmental hazards. The products are safe when used correctly in accordance with labels but when used incorrectly or disposed of improperly these products are hazardous to humans and the environment.
Products that are considered hazardous have one or more of the following properties:
For more information on hazardous items that you may have in your home
- Flammable/combustible - can easily be set on fire.
- Explosive/reactive - can detonate or explode through exposure to heat, sudden shock, pressure or incompatible substances.
- Corrosive - chemical action can burn and destroy living tissues or other materials when brought in contact.
- Toxic - capable of causing injury or death through ingestion, inhalation, or skin absorption.
- Irritant - causing irritation to eyes, lungs
Why should I care?
Improperly disposing of chemicals by dumping them on the ground allows them to contaminate our ground water, mix with rain to become runoff and contaminate our streams, rivers and lakes, killing or sickening fish and other aquatic life, causing algae blooms which deplete the oxygen in the water (killing fish), render the soil contaminated and unable to support growth of plants. Many cities use ground water and surface water as their drinking water source. Many rural homeowners use private wells taping into ground water supply for their water source. Many contaminants are picked up by fish and accumulate in their tissues, causing harm to those eating the fish. What ever harm is done to our environment, eventually makes it's way back to harm us.
- Today's homes have more chemicals in them than a laboratory 100 years ago!
- Although an individual household's disposal of these products may be small, the number of households and the amount of waste adds up fast.
- One pint of oil creates an oil slick that covers an acre of water.
- One gallon of oil contaminants 1 million gallons of drinking water, ruining the taste.
- Two gallons of recycled oil can generate enough electricity to:
- Run an average home for 24 hours;
- Cook 48 meals in a microwave oven;
- Vacuum your house for 15 months;
- Watch television for 180 hours;
- Blow dry your hair 216 times.
What do my household products contain?
Household cleaning products are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission under the 1960 Federal Hazardous Substances Labeling Act. Products that are harmful to human health must carry various warnings to consumers.
Another option is to ask for a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on all chemicals you buy. Stores are required to have MSDS for all products sold at the store. These should be available by asking at the service counter or you can look the information up of the internet. MSDS are fact sheets developed by the manufactures about their specific product. They include brand specific information about physical data (solid, liquid, color, melting point, flash point, etc.), health effects, first aid, reactivity, storage, handling, disposal, personal protection and spill/leak procedures. MSDS are required by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) targeted to workers who may be exposed to such chemicals, but much of this information is relevant to consumers. Click here for more information about particular products you have in your home.
What does the product label tell you?
Products are required to have a "signal word" to describe the hazards of the product. Beware that if the product contains more than one hazard only the most hazardous "signal word" is required.
Danger! Caution! Warning! Poison!
For more information about label requirements and what they tell you click here.
Choose the least toxic product to get the job done. Look for environmentally friendly alternatives.
For a helpful guide of more eco-friendly cleaning and other eco-friendly ideas click here.
What does the "signal word" mean?
Non - pesticide label requirements
Danger - the product is extremely flammable, extremely corrosive or highly toxic.|
|Poison: the product is highly toxic.|
|Warning or Caution: indicates products with lesser hazards.|
|Must contain statement "Keep out of reach of children" or its practical equivalent.|
|Must contain description of the principal hazards involved in using the product. Words and phrases used to describe these hazards include: Flammable, Corrosive, Vapor harmful, Harmful if absorbed through skin.|
Pesticide label requirements
||Danger or Poison: the product is highly toxic.|
|Warning: the product is moderately toxic.|
|Caution: the product is slightly toxic.|
|Must contain the statement "Keep out of reach of children" on the front label.|
|Must contain information on any fire, explosion or chemical hazards the pesticide poses.|
|Must contain information on how to avoid the product's hazards.|
Where can I dispose of household hazardous waste?
Benton County Residence Only:||
In June 2010 the Benton County Household Hazardous Waste (BC HHW) Facility located at the Horn Rapids Landfill in Richland was destroyed by fire. The facility provided a critical function in providing all Benton County residents and small businesses a place to safely and legally dispose of their HHW. In addition, HHW collected at Waste Management in Kennewick and solid waste drop off sites in Prosser and Benton City was also transferred to the BC HHW to be processed. All of these sites have had reduce what materials they can collect or completely stop collection. Unfortunately, at this time, there are not sufficient funds to rebuild and staff a new HHW collection facility. It may be a considerable length of time before a new facility will be constructed.
Franklin County Residence Only:||Franklin County Moderate Risk Waste Facility|
BDI Transfer Station
1721 Deitrich Rd.
What if I am a business that generates hazardous waste?
Businesses that generate hazardous waste are regulated under RCRA (Resource, Conservation and Recovery Act) and WAC 173-303 (Dangerous Waste Regulations). Your waste generator status is determined by the volume of hazardous waste generated at your facility and the amount of hazardous waste stored at your facility. Click here for more information.