Household Hazardous Waste

What is Household Hazardous Waste?

The term “hazardous waste” sounds both evil and frightening. It should. Hazardous waste can catch fire, be poisonous, eat away at skin and materials, cause cancer, and do many other nasty things.

Some people think that only industries can have hazardous waste. That idea is wrong! Many people have hazardous waste right in their own homes and just don’t know about it. A few examples of the many types of household hazardous waste are:

  • Toilet bowl cleaners (acid that can eat away at skin)
  • Cleaners & disinfectants (some generate poisonous gas if mixed together)
  • Paint thinners & strippers (can catch fire, some can cause cancer)
  • Varnishes and wood preservatives (can catch fire, poisonous, some can cause cancer)
  • Old paints (pigments can be poisonous)
  • Antifreeze, brake & transmission fluids (poisonous)
  • Gasoline, diesel fuel and motor oils (can catch fire)
  • Bug, weed and rodent killers (poisonous)
  • Solvent based glues (poisonous, some can cause cancer)

Proper Ways To Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste:

Some people think that the best way to dispose of household hazardous waste is to just pour it on the ground, dump it down a street drain, or flush it down a toilet. That idea is wrong too!

Pouring household hazardous waste on the ground can poison the soil and make it so plants can’t grow there and/or be unsafe for people and animals to be near. Most street drains go to rivers. So dumping household hazardous waste into a street drain can pollute rivers, kill fish, and make the river unsafe to swim in, boat on and eat fish or drink water from.

Public wastewater treatment plants are mainly built to treat only wastewater coming from peoples kitchen and bathroom sinks, bath tubs, showers and toilets. Household hazardous waste poured down sinks or flushed down toilets from a lot of people can make the wastewater treatment plant not work as well as it should. Some of the household hazardous waste might not get treated and go right into the river.

What are the best ways to get rid of household hazardous waste?

Don’t generate it in the first place! Buy paints, cleaners and other products only in the amounts you need and so that you will have little, if any, left over.

Take the household hazardous waste to an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) co-sponsored “Household Hazardous Waste Collection Site”. Depending upon who is co-sponsoring the collection site with the IEPA, the site may be open all year or just for one day.

To find out if there is a household hazardous waste collection day scheduled soon for a location near you, please call the IEPA at (217)782-6762 or click on one of the following links: