What Is Household
Hazardous Waste (HHW)?
(Adapted from the Household
Hazardous Waste "Fact Sheet" distributed by CalRecyle.)
What are household hazardous wastes? When
leftover paint, used oil, pool chemicals, or any other product containing
potentially dangerous materials need to be disposed of, they become "household
Household hazardous waste is any material
discarded from homes that may threaten human health or the environment when
disposed of improperly. Californians throw away tons of hazardous waste in
trash cans or down the drains each year. Many of these chemicals are so
corrosive they can destroy steel or plastic containers and seep into
groundwater supplies. Potential hazardous chemicals found in materials are:
Flammable & Explosive
The poison symbol is
Poisonous or lethal when ingested, touched or inhaled, even in small
quantities. Examples include rat poison, pesticides, cleaning fluids
Easily ignites. This
category includes lighter fluid, paint remover and most solvents.
These chemicals should be stored in flame-resistant cupboards. Volatile
solvents can be a particular problem as they are prone to spread around
from unsealed containers. This category also covers pyrophoric materials
that catch fire spontaneously on exposure to air.
Will destroy or irreversibly
damage another substance, such as living tissue, with direct contact.
Hazards include damage to eyes and skin but ingestion or inhalation is very
contact. Examples of corrosive products are oven cleaning and toilet
Oxidizing chemicals are
materials that spontaneously evolve oxygen at room temperature or with
slight heating, or that promote combustion. Examples include bleach and
hydrogen peroxide. Keep these materials segregated and avoid storing
with flammable chemicals!
May react violently when exposed to heat or or
other substances; may also be toxic to humans or other living things.
Words to watch for on labels include:
- "Danger" or "poison" which refer to
hazardous or highly toxic products.
- "Caution" and "Warning" are often used
interchangeably and mean that the product is less hazardous but sill
presents potential health hazards.
|What are the Hazards?
Improper handling or disposal of hazardous
chemicals can result in serious accidents:
- Children can be seriously harmed by
drinking, eating, touching, or breathing toxic chemicals.
- Refuse haulers and disposal site workers
can be injured by exploding aerosol cans, splashing chemicals, or
poisonous fumes created by mixed chemicals.
- Firefighters can be injured by these
chemicals when responding to a fire.
- Groundwater used for drinking or
irrigation can be contaminated when waste products are poured onto or seep
into the ground.
- Bacteria needed to break down sewer and
septic tank wastes can be destroyed by untreated hazardous wastes.
Household hazardous waste should never be
thrown into the trash, washed down the drain, or poured onto the ground.
Improper handling or disposal of hazardous chemicals can result in serious
|How Do I Avoid Accidents?
- Never leave hazardous household products
within reach of children.
- Buy products with less-harmful ingredients
(read the labels).
- Do not dispose of products in the trash,
on the ground, or in storm drains.
- Do not remove labels, and do not remove
products from their original containers.
- Do not refill empty containers unless the
label recommends it.
|How Do I Handle Household Hazardous
Reduce by purchasing only the
amount you need.
Reuse the products by donating
unused portions to friends, community organizations, or take them to the
Household Hazardous Waste Consolidation Facility
by the Stockton Airport. The
products will be made available to the public for FREE. Just ask to see the
Recycle by taking products such
as used motor oil and batteries to a recycling center.
If any products cannot be reused, recycled,
or properly disposed of in your trash, store them safely in their original
containers away from food, pets, and children, then take them to the
Household Hazardous Waste Consolidation Facility.
|Examples of Household Hazardous
In the Home
Household cleaners can contain chemicals that
are toxic, corrosive, and sometimes
- Abrasive cleanser
- Scouring powder
- Ammonia-based cleaner
- Chlorine bleach
- Bleach-based cleaner
- Drain opener
- Glass cleaner
- Oven cleaner
- Rug and upholstery cleaner
- Spot Remover
- Toilet bowl cleaner
- Silver polish
- Aerosol spray cans
- air freshener
- hair spray
- bug killer
- Syringes (sharps), in sealed, heavy plastic
or metal containers
- Floor polish
- Furniture polish
- Nail polish and remover
- Shoe polish
In the Garage
Aside from choosing water-based paint over
solvent-based paint, or using elbow grease rather than paint stripper.
Hazardous auto and paint products in general, have few known alternatives.
However, some of these products such as latex paint, motor oil, anti-freeze,
and auto batteries can be recycled.
Paint products can contain chemicals
- Enamel or oil-based paint
- Latex or water-based paint
- Furniture stripper
- Paint stripper
- Rust prevention products
- Thinner, solvent, and turpentine
- Wood preservative
Automotive products can contain
chemicals that are
toxic, corrosive, and
- Motor oil
- Auto and motorcycle batteries
- Car wax
- Engine cleaner and degreaser
- Gasoline and diesel fuel
- Auto paint and primer
- Transmission fluid
- Brake fluid
- Power steering fluid
In and Around the Yard
Most households also employ a variety of
hazardous products in their yards, especially their garden areas. Less-toxic
alternatives are available for many of the fertilizers and pesticides listed
below. Check out our
(Beneficial Urban Garden Strategies) book for extensive less-toxic or
natural remedies and tips for garden pests and weeds.
Pesticide and garden products can
contain chemicals that are
toxic and sometimes
- Chemical fertilizer
- Herbicide and weed killer
- Insecticide or bug killer
- Flea collars, sprays, and bombs
- Rodent poisons
- Roach and ant killers
- Snail and slug bait
Pool and hobby products can contain
chemicals that are
Toxic, Explosive, and
- Artist and model paint
- Firearm cleaning solvent
- Photographic chemicals
- Solvent-based glue
- Pool chemicals, including disinfectants
and PH balancing chemicals
San Joaquin County Department
of Public Works
Solid Waste Division
Last updated 05/26/2011