Managing Household Hazardous Waste
Many common household products can be hazardous to your family's health and the environment. Play it safe. See below for things you can do.
Don't buy it!
The best method of managing Household Hazardous Waste is to prevent its generation in the first place. This involves selecting the least toxic item "to do the job" and buying only the minimum amounts necessary. Buying in large quantities is not a bargain if half of it has to be discarded.
Avoid household products marked "Danger"
Look for the word "danger" on cleaners, polishes, paint strippers and pesticides. "Danger" means the product could poison you, cause serious damage to your skin or eyes, or easily cause a fire. There are four different types of hazards. Choose products marked "caution" or "warning", or better yet, products that don't need warnings. Choose water-based products, such as latex paint, white glue and water-based paint stripper.
Reduce your need for yard and garden pesticides
Pesticides are poisons. Besides killing bugs and weeds, they may also poison children, irritate eyes or skin, cause cancer or kill birds and fish. Build healthy soil by adding compost or aged manure and using slow-release organic fertilizers. Buy plants that will grow well in the Indiana climate and in your yard. Try non-chemical products to control pests, such as teflon tape for root weevils or soap and water solution for aphids. The less-toxic pest control alternative is preferred.
Recycle your used motor oil
Oil dumped on the ground or in storm drains is not treated and may end up in our streams and lakes, threatening fish, birds, lakes and drinking water supplies. Take used oil to a recycling center, household hazardous waste program, or automotive service station that accepts used motor oil from the public. Contact your local solid waste management district to locate the recycling locations nearest to you.
If the material is still useable (i.e. has not been damaged/shelf life expired, has not been banned, etc.) check with friends and neighbors to see if they might be able to use it. Or check with community groups such as Little League, Habitat for Humanity, etc. to see if they can use the product. Items that should not be shared are banned or restricted pesticides, prescription medicines, syringes, and products that are not in original containers or whose labels are not readable.
Dispose of leftover hazardous products properly
When you dispose of hazardous household products in the storm drain or sink, the chemicals can end up in local water bodies or groundwater. If you throw them in the garbage, the chemicals can endanger collection and disposal workers. Contact your local HHW program [PDF] to learn how to properly dispose of hazardous products.
For questions on specific disposal issues, contact IDEM OPPTA at (800) 988-7901.