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It’s that time of year again…spring cleaning time! Before you break out the cleaning supplies take a few minutes to make sure you know how to properly handle and dispose of household products so that you keep your family safe.
Americans generate 1.6 million tons of waste each year from common household products with potentially hazardous ingredients. These products can include drain openers, over cleaners, paint thinners, strippers, and removers, grease and rust removers, and mold and mildew removers. Leftovers of these products often referred to as “household hazardous waste” (HHW) may contain corrosive, toxic, flammable, or reactive ingredients.
Improper disposal of household hazardous waste can include pouring them down the drain, on the ground, into storm sewers, or in some cases putting them out with the trash. The dangers of such disposal methods might not be immediately obvious, but improper disposal of these materials can pollute the environment or possibly harm your family. Many communities in the United States offer a variety of options for safely managing your HHW. Check with your local solid waste authority for collections in your area.
Here’s what you can do to keep yourself, your family, and your environment safe while using these products during your spring cleaning:
1. Read and follow the label – before you buy, always check the product labels. It is important to look for labeling that reads “DANGER,” “WARNING,” “CAUTION,” “TOXIC,” “CORROSIVE,” “FLAMMABLE,” or “POISON.” These warnings tell you if the product is harmful to you, your family and the environment, and how to use, store, and dispose of it safely.
2. Keep products in their original containers and store them safely away from children and pets.
3. Dispose of household products safely – never pour corrosive, toxic, flammable, ore reactive household products down the sink, toilet, or bathtub drain unless the products are made for that purpose.
4. Try alternative products when available – for many everyday tasks, there are readily available products that can serve the same purpose, but that may be less harmful (and cheaper) alternatives. For example, mixing 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in 1 quart of water makes for an excellent glass cleaner, for example.
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