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Disposing of Hazardous Household Products

Photo courtesy of: http://en.hesperian.org/hhg/A_Community_Guide_to_Environmental_Health:Getting_Rid_of_Trash_Safely

Photo courtesy of: http://en.hesperian.org/hhg/A_Community_Guide_to_Environmental_Health:Getting_Rid_of_Trash_Safely

Do you find your cabinets and basement cluttered with old cleaning products that you no longer need, but don’t know what to do with? Many common car and household products can be dangerous not only if they are handled improperly, but also if they are disposed of improperly. If discarded incorrectly the hazardous chemicals that make up many of these products can produce dangerous effects on your health and on the environment around you.

If you simply throw these hazardous products in the trash the chemicals within them will enter the environment through lawns, backyards, sewers, landfills and incinerators. Liquid waste and rainwater can pick up contaminants when they leak through the layers of trash, causing leachate (water that has percolated through a solid and leached out some of the constituents) more complicated and expensive to treat. When rain, melting snow or ice come in contact with contaminated grounds they pollute local water sources through the storm drains that lead directly into local waterways. Even just the emissions produced from the incinerators pollutes the air. All of these things pollute the air, soil, and water-which in turn poisons birds, fish, mammals, and even you and your pets.

Learning the proper disposal methods of these products can be complicated and confusing, which is why we recommend turning to professionals. Luckily, the New York Department of Sanitation has several options to help you with this process. Every month or so they hold SAFE Disposal Events, where you can bring household cleaners, electronics, old batteries, unused medications, paint, motor oil, and more to be disposed of safely. This month’s events will be held on October 7th and 21st from 10am-4pm, rain or shine (for more event details, visit: http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/dsny/zerowaste/residents/safe-disposal-events.shtml)

If you can’t make it to one of these events, don’t worry! DSNY also has Special Waste Drop-off Sites located throughout the city, where you can drop off any of these materials for safe disposal. The sites are located in all five boroughs, and are open from 10am-5pm every Saturday and the last Friday of every month.

Wondering what products you should be disposing of safely? Here’s a list of common hazardous household products:

  1. Antifreeze, motor oil, gasoline, polish, wax
  2. Asbestos
  3. Auto Batteries
  4. Batteries
  5. Cell Phones
  6. Computers, TVs + Peripherals
  7. Corrosive + Flammable Items
  8. Gas Tanks
  9. Household Medical Waste
  10. Mercury-Containing Devices
  11. Motor Oil
  12. Paint
  13. Pesticides
  14. Smoke Detectors
  15. Tires
  16. Garden chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer
  17. Fluorescent light bulbs
  18. Swimming pool chemicals
Learn more at: http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/dsny/zerowaste/residents/safe-disposal.shtml