Hazardous materials pose a serious threat to the lives of people who are exposed to it. They can cause sicknesses because of their abrasive and allergic qualities. They are also an environmental risk because they do not decompose. They can kill plant life and harm animals that may come in contact with them. Thus, it is the responsibility of the people who use them to dispose of them properly.
We deal with hazardous materials even in our very own homes. Most of our common household items are made of chemicals that are considered hazardous if used, stored or disposed of the wrong way. Here are some simple remedies we can turn to in order to better arm ourselves and the environment against these toxic substances:
1. When buying hazardous chemical products, acquaint yourself with the labels and instructions so that you will know how to properly use and store them. Take note of the warnings regarding the dangers that come with their usage. Do not hesitate to make inquiries from the company that manufactures such products if you have some questions.
2. Purchase only those home products which are not toxic. You can look for products which have the “non-toxic” mark. Also, never buy products in unsealed or broken containers. They may be adulterated or may have leaks which will be hazardous to the health.
3. In case of leftover chemical products, make sure that they are stored in containers with readable labels. This is to avoid any misuse of the substance which may be harmful to the health.
4. To avoid leftovers, try to buy only the amount that you need. Avoid buying hazardous products in big containers as it is never wise to store remaining contents. More importantly, do not buy anything which you do not foresee yourself using in the next few days.
5. Never mix chemical solutions. You do not know the dangers that this may cause. The resulting mixture may explode. You may also be concocting some poison without you knowing it.
6. Protect yourself at all times when using hazardous chemical products. Make sure you open the containers of these products in rooms that have good ventilation. Use gloves to avoid any skin contact with the chemicals. You can also wear a face mask if the product tends to emit a strong smell.
7. In case of accidental contact with hazardous substances, seek medical attention at once. Do not wait for the worse symptoms to appear before you rule it as an emergency. Call your family doctor or have yourself taken to the hospital without delay. Ask for assistance from family members to speed up the obtaining of medical help.
Homeowners are also faced with the challenge of doing a cleanup of hazardous materials after the occurrence of a storm or flood. Once the natural calamity has ceased, residents of an affected community go back to their homes and are welcomed by the remnants of the storm or flood.
These types of calamities encourage the harmful transport of perilous substances. When there is flooding or destruction in the communities, the chemicals we keep in our homes may spill or be removed from their containers.
It is a necessity and responsibility of homeowners to dispose of misplaced hazardous materials in a manner that will safeguard their health and the overall well-being of the community. In the wake of a storm or flood, they have to take the following measures which will avoid any potential long-term negative consequences on their health as well as on the environment:
1. After a flood or storm, homeowners must take extra precautions before starting the cleanup. To ensure your safety, do not go back to your homes if you have not been given authority by the local government to do so. Be watchful of power lines which may have been toppled down by the wind. You may pass by some roads without noticing them and thus expose yourself to the dangers of electrocution.
2. Before you enter your house, turn off the main electric switch. You have to do this even if there is no electricity in the neighborhood. You will never know when the electricity will come back. It is better to turn it off so you are not caught off-guard.
3. Try to remember which parts of the home contain hazardous chemical substances such as paint, motor oil, detergents, cleaning solutions, solvent, gasoline and asbestos. You have to go to these areas of the house first so that they will not spread into other areas.
4. Do not handle hazardous materials unless you have adequately protected yourself by wearing gloves and masks to avoid contamination. Be wary in handling objects that may have been submerged in water mixed with these chemicals. You may experience skin irritations and burns if you come in contact with them. Make sure you handle them with caution to avoid any injuries.
5. Be prepared with trash bags and sealed containers to be used in storing the hazardous substances which you will find in the house. Evaluate which of these materials are safe to keep and use and which should be disposed of.
6. In disposing of hazardous materials, make sure you keep them from flowing into the soil or surface waters as they may contaminate the water reserves. Knowing the proper methods of disposal of hazardous materials will not only be beneficial to your health but will also help you save money on disposal services.
7. You can start the dumping process by sorting the materials in a way that will be safe for the environment and for the health of the people nearby. Identify which materials are recyclable and which are compostable before bringing them to the nearest landfill.
8. If there is stagnant water in any of the areas around the home, you have to be careful when stepping or working near them. There may be nails or sharp objects in these water pools. Make sure you clear the contents of any puddle before working in areas where they are present.
9. Be careful in demolishing buildings that were constructed before the 1970s as the materials with which they were built may contain asbestos. There are strict requirements in the disposal of asbestos. You will need to put them in a licensed landfill.
10. Separate the lumber waste from other debris because the wood can still be used for cooking and keeping the heat. For trees that have been downed by the storm, you can inquire from your local municipality regarding their disposal procedures for such trees.
11. Set aside items which are recyclable. You can make money out of recycling items such as electronics, fluorescent or other non-incandescent light bulbs, batteries, tires and appliances. Check out nearby centers which buy these items. You can also find ways to reuse them in your own homes.
Other methods of hazardous waste disposal
There are other ways of approaching a hazardous materials disposal problem. These methods require more than just plain sorting or sealing of containers. Treatment, disposal, storage and recycling are the most common methods of converting hazardous wastes into a more environment-friendly form.
Treatment is a procedure which transforms the chemical, biological and physical makeup of a hazardous substance into a material which is less harmful to the environment. It usually involves equipment and treatment solutions which break down the components of hazardous substances.
Hazardous material treatment performs the following functions:
a. reduce the hazardous qualities of the waste
b. retrieve the energy from the substances
c. make the waste easier and harmless to transport
Hazardous materials can also be subjected to incineration and combustion to break down their toxic composition. This will not only make the materials safer but will also diminish the volume of such waste. There are centers that are catered to giving these services.
Disposal consists of putting the waste into the land for proper dumping. Land disposal methods are designed to contain the hazardous substances and prevent their harmful spread into the environment. Landfills, waste piles and injection wells are very popular projects of most local governments.
Storage involves keeping the waste for a momentary period of time before the waste will be subjected to treatment and final disposal. Some common storage equipments include containment buildings, drip pads, tanks and surface impoundments. Storing hazardous substances will halt their spread to other areas and therefore prevent further damage.
The recycling of hazardous materials involves reclamation. Reclamation is a method wherein the hazardous substance is processed so that the reusable contents of the substance will be retrieved. The most frequently reclaimed substances are solvents and metals.
Homeowners must always inquire with their local governments regarding possible disposal arrangements. It will be helpful to know your options so that you can pick the method that will be most beneficial to people and to the environment. Seeking assistance from the authorities will also make disposal of hazardous materials an easier and more manageable task. With these tips in mind, there is no reason for you to neglect your responsibilities to the community and to the environment.