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Safety Tips from the Heart of America Metro Fire Chiefs Council

Household Hazardous Waste

You want important news about Household Hazardous Waste, a very important issue these days. We can all make a difference in our environment by reducing, reusing and recycling household hazardous waste. Did you know that Americans generate 1.6 million tons of household hazardous waste per year? The average home can accumulate as much as 100 pounds of household hazardous waste in the basement, garage, and in storage closets. When improperly disposed of, household hazardous waste can create a potential risk to people and the environment.

What is it?

Some jobs around the home may require the use of products containing hazardous components. Such products may include paints, cleaners, stains and varnishes, car batteries, motor oil, and pesticides. The used or leftover contents of such consumer products are known as Household Hazardous Waste. Household Hazardous Wastes are sometimes disposed of improperly by individuals pouring wastes down the drain, on the ground, into storm sewers, or putting them out with the trash. The dangers of such disposal methods may not be immediately obvious but certain types of Household Hazardous Waste have the potential to cause harm to ourselves and our environment. Physical injury to sanitation workers from the handling of products is a viable concern. Contamination of septic tanks or wastewater treatment systems can occur if poured down drains or toilets. Some products can be hazardous to children and pets if left around the house.

How to handle household cleaning products

The most important action you can take to safely use and store cleaning products is to read and follow label directions. Labels provide information about a product and its safe and effective use. If you have questions about a specific cleaning product, call the toll-free number listed on the package.

By following the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle, the household cleaning products industry pioneered technology which has made waste reduction and recycling a regular part of our lives.
Risks associated with household hazardous waste

Ways everyone can help reduce cleaning product waste

Disposing of household cleaning products


Floyd Peoples, Chief Fire Marshal, Kansas City, Mo., Fire Department, 816-784-9100
Heart of America Metro Fire Chiefs Council, 9550 W. 95th St., Overland Park, Kan. 66212