One of the dangers in having a job at an industrial workplace is the possibility of dealing or exposure to toxic or hazardous wastes. This includes factories and industrial sites that make use of these chemicals for processing and producing products. If not handled properly, these hazardous wastes can be harmful to both living creatures and the environment. In the end, humans will receive all the brunt of these negative effects and it will echo through the next generations.
However, hazardous wastes are not limited to factories and industrial work areas but to homes where ordinary people are living in most of their lives. Many people are not even aware that such products exists in their homes and many have been using them day in and day out without even knowing the dangers in can bring to their health and to the environment. Another issue here is that due to the lack of knowledge and understanding of how these materials can affect them and the environment, people tend to dispose of these items incorrectly. If people will continue with this practice, the planet that people call home will be totally covered in harmful and toxic trash.
Among the countries in the world, the United States, Australia and Canada heads the pack among nations that produces the highest volume of garbage and hazardous wastes. The average rate is at four pounds per person on a daily basis, and if summed up these could be translated into a mountain-size pile of trash. This is an alarming development that could threaten the very essence of life here on this planet. Something must be done about it and the first step is to reduce the amount of hazardous wastes being generated in a particular home.
The Dangers of Hazardous Waste
Aside from the characteristics and potential problems that hazardous waste can bring to people and the environment, there are several other reasons why these substances and chemicals should be properly disposed of, and if possible reduced in usage and quantities. These waste materials can take on many forms such as liquids or gases but there is one thing common among all these substances, and that is the significant hazard it can pose to human health and also to the environment.
As mentioned earlier, the amount of waste generated by a single person may not have a substantial impact on the environment in itself, however if these are accumulated together with the wastes generated by millions of other people, the resulting effect would be catastrophic. Some of these hazardous wastes can contaminate water and food resources that will have an adverse effect to the supplies and needs of people around the world.
These wastes may contain various chemicals that may be toxic, corrosive, poisonous, explosive, and flammable or even cause infections. Most of these wastes are not biodegradable and could not be subjected to the natural breakdown of materials as part of the decomposition process. These substances may put the lives of people coming into contact with it directly or indirectly at greater risks.
Kinds of Hazardous Waste
Technically, hazardous wastes can be classified as anything that will ignite when the temperature level is at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. These wastes can also be either very acidic or it can be the opposite and be very basic. Some chemicals will react as it comes into contact with water and during these reactions, may produce several toxins and even cyanide.
Earlier, it was discussed that many people are not even aware that they have these hazardous materials right in their own homes. These include chemicals that are often used in cleaning, pesticides and herbicides. For lack of knowledge, people would just discard of these by simply dumping them on the ground or pouring it onto drains. The implications of such actions would be horrifying in the long run.
The following are some methods on how homeowners can identify hazardous wastes:
* Look at the labels of the household chemicals or items you are using and look for big, bold words that stand out and in capital letters that say: DANGER; CAUTION; POISON; or WARNING. Some of these materials are harmful immediately or would become so after a prolonged exposure.
* Chemicals that are used as cleaners (except organic products) like oven cleaners; pesticides like a mosquito or cockroach spray; herbicides like weed killers; and used paint or motor oils are hazardous and can harm the environment if improperly disposed of. Some of these chemicals are volatile or can easily evaporate into the air and can cause fires if ignited.
* Hazardous materials are not limited to chemicals but also include other household items that may include or have parts that contain hazardous materials. These include fire extinguishers, batteries, fluorescent bulbs, and most electronics appliances like computers and televisions.
* Substances or chemicals that are corrosive in nature or those that are capable of either dissolving other matters or causing adverse reactions. These include materials that can injure skin or living tissue upon direct contact.
* Radioactive substances or materials that can cause cellular or even genetic damage.
Proper Ways to Reduce Hazardous Waste in the Home
Knowing the dangers of hazardous materials and the ability to identify which materials are hazardous or not could guide homeowners on starting a hazardous waste reduction program right in their own homes. Such an exercise would not only ensure the safety of the inhabitants of a particular home but would also contribute their part in preserving the natural conditions of the environment and their communities.
The following are some tips and techniques on how homeowners can reduce the amount of hazardous waste and materials in their homes.
* Instead of using industrial chemicals for household cleaning purposes, it would be wise to find alternative cleaning materials that would do the job done without harming the environment and the people inside the homes. One classic example is the use of baking soda for cleaning the bathroom and some surfaces in the kitchen. Another good alternative is a vegetable oil and lemon juice mix that can be used for cleaning furniture surfaces. Instead of using aerosol cans that will only cover up odors and not eliminate them, you can instead use vinegar and water mix to remove these unpleasant odors.
* Minimize your trash caused by packaging materials. Buy products locally or those with minimal packaging. When you do buy packaged products, choose items that are packaged in tin, aluminum or paper so these can be easily recycled.
* Using rechargeable batteries would be a wiser move instead of buying disposable ones. Records show that disposable batteries make up to 20% of hazardous waste materials that can be found in a landfill. Another good alternative is to minimize use of products that require batteries or those that can be charged with the new solar-powered chargers.
* Do not stack home improvement products in your homes just to let them stay there for a long time. Buy only the appropriate amount that you need for your project, like paints or glue as excess materials can cause fumes to dissipate into your homes and cause a variety of problems. Never pour them in drains, storm sewers and local streams. These include thinners and varnish.
* Some people may not know it, but used syringes of any type can be considered as a hazardous household waste material if not properly discarded. The proper way to take care of this is to immediately dispose of them on tightly sealed and properly labeled containers. Do not throw them or include them in the garbage dump but endorse them properly to your local household hazardous waste disposal depot.
* One way to reduce the amount of hazardous wastes that is accumulated in the home is to make use of organic or green products as an alternative for various household items. A big opportunity would lie in the use of such alternative products for cleaning solutions and detergents. Several companies have come up with organic or all-natural materials that can be used for cleaning various items in the home from laundry to floors. These materials are derived from organic or plant by-products and would be safe to use for both humans and animals and would not harm the environment in any way. Such materials are fast becoming popular in households around the world and it would be wise for you to join the green bandwagon.
* One of the most important words that homeowners should know by heart is this – recycle. Making use of other materials for another purpose or re-using them on other items is one great and practical way of reducing the amount of wastes that accumulates in our landfills and harm the environment. Start with paper first, then move on to glass and plastic. Homeowners would be surprised on the many innovative ways that they can perform on their own as part of a recycling program to reduce the amount of wastes. Homeowners should learn more on how to properly recycle stuff, and at the same time should know more on how to store, use and discard of hazardous materials.
The amount of waste in our planet has been building up over the years. Some of these wastes are deemed hazardous and would be very harmful not only to the environment, but to plant and animal life as well. The threat extends to humans, being the caretakers of this world, and people's lives will be affected severely due to this problem on hazardous wastes. Everyone should contribute in reducing the amount of hazardous wastes that is discarded from home, and this would entail proper knowledge, wisdom and a genuine care for the environment and the inhabitants living within it.