Fall cleanup means extra attention to hazardous waste found in homes

Hazardous waste in home

People will soon be switching out lawnmowers for snow blowers as homeowners prepare for the winter months. And in the process of fall cleaning, hazardous materials that need special disposal are often uncovered in garages and sheds.

But dumping hazardous chemicals down the sink or into a storm drain can have serious health and environmental consequences, said Trish Radke, program coordinator at Metro Waste Authority.

“Water waste from our homes, it connects to city sewers and then it goes through wastewater treatment facilities before it’s discharged into rivers and streams,” Radke said. “Some hazardous products, they don’t break down in those systems due to the chemical makeup. And so, it’s really important not to be dumping them down the drain.”

She also discouraged disposal in the regular garbage, as chemicals can be dangerous for sanitation workers who come in contact with the trash, or for other people and pets if the materials leak.

Any product that could be considered dangerous should be taken to a Hazardous Waste Drop-Off site, where it will be disposed of safely.

Fertilizers, pesticides, deck stains and oil cans are some of the items that can be flammable and even explosive under certain conditions. Radke gave some tips to identify if products are dangerous.

“When you’re doing a clean-out, look for those labels that say ‘hazardous, toxic, flammable,'” she said. “Those keywords are going to help you determine if that’s something that you need to think a little bit before you just put it in your regular trash or certainly before you would dump it down a drain.”

The same holds true for pool chemicals and some indoor cleaning products. Radke said you can contact the local solid waste agency to find hazardous waste drop-off locations in your area.