Household Hazardous Wastes
- A pint of oil poured down a storm drain or into a gutter can spread into a one-acre oil slick when it reaches a stream. Dumped oil from one oil change can ruin a million gallons of fresh water - enough to supply 50 people for a year.
- Dumping hazardous wastes into a stream is a crime and could result in jail terms and/or fines.
- Pesticides that are poured down a sink may go straight through the sewage treatment plant without being removed and discharge into a stream.
- Americans generate 1.6 million tons of household hazardous waste per year.
- The El Paso County Household Chemical Waste Collection Program collected 1,460 gallons of antifreeze, 282 auto batteries, 3,340 gallons of motor oil, 3,530 gallons of paint (includes thinner, stain, etc.), and numerous other products at the April 2002 event.
What is a Household Hazardous Waste?
- Basically, leftover household products which have ingredients that are corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or reactive.
- Some examples include most household cleaners, motor oil, automotive batteries, antifreeze,pesticides (herbicides, insecticides, bacteriocides, fungicides, etc.), fertilizers, furniture strippers, oil- or enamel-based paint, paint thinners, mercury thermometers or thermostats, and flourescent light bulbs.
How should Household Hazardous Materials be used?
- Only buy the quantities needed.
- Follow label instructions.
- Investigate alternatives. For example, mix 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice with 1 quart of water and use this mixture to clean glass. See the EPA's website for other alternatives.
- Keep products in their original containers, except if the container is corroding. Never remove labels.
How should Household Hazardous Waste be disposed?
- Take it to the El Paso County Collection Program.
- For drop-off appointments at the permanent facility, call El Paso County, Solid Waste Management at 520-7878.
- Take it to a local recycler. Call El Paso County, Solid Waste Management for a local recycling guide.
- Check with neighbors to see if they can use your leftover materials.
- Contact El Paso County, Solid Waste Management to determine if a certain household waste can be put in the trash.
- If moving from the area, contact El Paso County, Solid Waste Management to bring your household hazardous waste to a special year around collection program that they offer.
- Never dispose of Household Hazardous Waste into the storm sewer or sanitary sewer.
What are the dangers and consequences of improper disposal?
- Disposal of household hazardous waste into the storm sewer, sanitary sewer, or trash can result in harm to people, the environment, and wildlife. Children and pets are at risk where there are wastes left around the house. Wildlife along and in streams polluted with household hazardous waste are placed in danger. Uses (drinking water, recreation, etc.) of streams can be decreased by illegal dumping of wastes into the stream.
- Improper disposal results in large costs to citizens.
- Sewage treatment plants may be required to enhance their treatment methods to remove the hazardous wastes dumped into the sanitary sewer. The cost of the enhancements will be reflected in your utility bill.
- There are also clean up costs for illegally dumped wastes. There are increased costs for health care for people that are poisoned by the wastes. And, of course, there can be large litigation fees for those that illegally dump wastes.
To report illegal dumping or spills call 444-7000. If an emergency, call 911.