Homeowners often find excess paint and unused chemicals stored in their basement or garage. At some point, these substances will have to be disposed of. Most chemicals can be hazardous to the well-being of people to a certain extent. The factors to be considered in determining the extent of damage they may cause are toxicity, ignitability, corrosivity and reactivity. Some very dangerous chemicals call for more specific disposal procedures while some can be disposed of using the most basic hazardous waste removal procedures.
It is crucial for homeowners to first determine whether a certain household chemical is hazardous or not. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates that a household chemical is to be considered a hazardous waste if any part of its packaging or container displays "Warning", "Caution", "Toxic", "Poison", "Corrosive", "Danger", or "Flammable". Pesticides, on the other hand, are always considered as hazardous waste even if they are not labeled with the above words.
It is thus important to know the proper ways of disposing each kind of household chemical. They must be disposed of properly lest they become threats to the health of the people living in the premises or to the environment. Chemicals which are simply allowed to flow into the drainages and the nearby soil eventually pollute the water systems and injure the well-being of the people in the community. While it is easier and more commonly practiced to throw leftover cleaners and detergent, excess paint and other household chemicals into the sink, garbage or the ground, the costs will be heavier for the people and for the environment in the long term.
There are many ways for homeowners to dispose of household chemicals. First, homeowners should make an inventory of the household chemicals still stored in the confines of the home. The cleaners, detergents and bleaching solutions which are not yet expired but are no longer useful to the household should be given away to those who may need them more. If there are only small amounts or leftovers of these chemicals present, they can be diluted with water thrown into the drain. Homeowners must however be careful never to mix bleach with ammonia as the end result will be the emission of a toxic and fatally harmful gas.
Basement storages may also contain aerosol cans. These cans are filled with pressure. If handled the wrong way, they can explode and cause harm to the people in the immediate surroundings. To ensure a safety disposal, the aerosol container must first be emptied. This is done by turning the container upside down and spraying what is left of its contents on paper or boxes. The person doing this must make sure that the windows are open and the area has good ventilation. When the can is totally empty, it should be safely covered with newspaper and thrown in the garbage can.
More harmful chemicals such as acidic substances and corrosive cleaners must be disposed of very carefully. Not only are they capable of causing physical harm, they can also be very damaging to the environment. Homeowners should not be tempted of simply flushing those chemicals down the drain. They should either use them in accordance with the product’s instructions or deposit them with a hazardous waste disposal facility.
Homes with lush gardens are sure to contain many pesticides and insecticides. Again, these household chemicals should not be simply thrown into the drainages. They should be used or taken to a waste disposal facility. Even when they have been completely used up, the empty containers must still be properly disposed of. The lids of the containers must not be closed if the interiors are still wet with the chemical fluid. Once they are dried, the containers should be wrapped with paper before being thrown into the trash. The containers should never be recycled.
Motor oils can be reused. They should simply be transferred to a cleaner container and stored until the needs for their use arises. If the homeowner wishes to dispose them immediately, they can be taken to car repair and maintenance centers where they may be purchased at a lower price. Oil filters can be thrown like regular garbage as long as they are thoroughly drained and placed in sealed plastic bags which are properly labeled.
Homes which have been recently renovated or which have areas newly repaired are sure to have a surplus of excess paint. When these paints and solvents remain unused for a long period of time, they need to be disposed of properly. Prolonged storage of unused paint will not only produce clutter but will also be harmful to the health due to the smell it emits. Excess paint may be thrown directly into the garbage if it is already dried and it is in a solid state.
Drying of the paint may be accelerated by continually stirring the paint inside its container. However, this can only be done if what is involved is only less than one-fourth of a regular can of paint. If the leftover paint is of a bigger quantity, it must be poured into a plastic bag inside a cardboard box and allowed to dry until it become solid. Sawdust or kitty litter may also be added into the mixture to speed up the drying process. The paint will be absorbed by the sawdust or kitty litter and will therefore turn into a solid state. This procedure cannot, however, be performed when oil-based paints are involved. Oil-based paints pose great harm both to human beings and to the environment.
Chemical solvents and paint thinners should not be thrown away as these substances may still be reused. The particles of paint that have been mixed with the solvents and thinners should be allowed to separate. After this, the remaining solution is put in a new container and is now once again available for use.
Homeowners may also resort to other means of disposing these chemicals. These include saving the paint and being aware of its availability so that it can be used whenever the need for paint arises. The excess paint may also be given to family and friends who might need them in the renovation of their homes. Some neighborhoods also conduct paint swaps among homeowners. This is a great avenue to get rid of unwanted paint in the house and to get something more useful in return.
If the huge amounts of paint cannot be disposed of through the above-mentioned ways, homeowners may call hazardous waste disposal centers to explore their options on how to dispose of their excess paint. These centers should also be contacted if the paint that is going to be disposed of contains lead or mercury as these two substances are highly hazardous to the environment.
Local waste facilities are now becoming very accessible to homeowners. Many of these facilities have opened their services in various States across the country. Homeowners must do the appropriate inquiry on such services. Most facilities offer to pick-up the chemical wastes from the homes.
Since hazardous waste removal procedures prove to be costly, homeowners can also turn to preventive measures to minimize their disposal expenses. Early on, homeowners can perform acts which will diminish if not totally wipe out any household chemical leftovers.
Homeowners may avail of certain additives which can be mixed with gas in order to extend the latter’s usability while being stored in a tool or container. This will help utilize the gas even though it has been kept there for a long time. Electronic equipments in the house such as computers, television sets and radios which are no longer functioning must also be donated to manufacturers or junk shops which may find some use for these items. The same goes for car batteries. They may be donated or even sold to regular battery suppliers in the even that a new car battery is purchased. To avoid a surplus of unused cleaners, detergents and bleaching solutions, homeowners must buy them only in small amounts. Other non-chemical alternatives for cleaning may also be explored in the maintenance of the house. It is also better for homeowners to start purchasing rechargeable batteries instead of disposable ones.
Some cities in the country have set up Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Centers in order to save the residents the high costs of household chemical waste disposal. All that homeowners have to do is to show proof that they are residents of that city. Homeowners may inquire from their local governments if such services are being offered in their locality.
The proper performance of hazardous waste removal procedures for household chemicals is a responsibility of every homeowner. The health and welfare of the public must be protected at all times. Improper disposal may damage the community’s water systems and may even kill the plant life in the area. Since it is the homeowner who purchases these chemicals, the homeowner is the one solely responsible for its proper disposal and is the one fully accountable if its careless dumping produces disastrous consequences.