In the effort to keep our homes as clean, safe and environmentally friendly as possible, reducing our use of hazardous materials will be high on the list of priorities. Some are obvious, others less so. It is always worth keeping an eye on ingredients and investigating anything that looks suspicious. The best approach is to phase them out as we become more aware of effective, affordable alternatives. Below are seven hazardous materials that might be in your home, as well as some tips about how to dispose of them properly.
Don’t Be A Litterbug / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
1 – Paints
Unless the paint that you have is specifically labeled as environmentally friendly, it probably has some dangerous chemicals and toxins in it. Paint is considered to be “household hazardous waste” (HHW) and cannot simply be thrown away. Check with your local municipality offices to see what options your community offers for disposal.
2 – Pesticides
Whether you are using flea and tick control on your dog or cat or herbicides and insecticides in your garden, this stuff is dangerous. After all, you use it to kill things. Check the label for disposal instructions. Look for natural, eco-friendly pesticides and using plants and herbs as natural repellents.
3 – Fertilizer
A lot of gardeners use fertilizer without realizing that it is dangerous. Its toxicity usually stems being loaded with herbicides and insecticides. Instead of conventional fertilizer, try using natural fertilizers instead. Corn gluten is a favorite among eco-friendly gardeners.
4 – Cleaning Supplies
Many parents instinctively know not to let their children near the toxic cleaners they use in the house. These products are usually full of ingredients like bleach, chlorine and formaldehyde. Look for the many non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaners now on the market instead. Dispose of them through services offered by your municipality.
5 – Car Batteries
Even if you try to be an eco-conscious driver, you probably have toxic automotive batteries. The lead in them can leak into your local groundwater, the acid is also dangerous, not least if it gets onto your skin. Some states regulate disposal – like New York, for example – so check what the local laws are that apply to you. Many garages accept them for disposal.
6 – Mercury
Mercury is common in old fashioned thermometers and some batteries. It is toxic when it comes into contact with your skin or when vapors are inhaled. Luckily, mercury can be recycled – see what the local options are near you at Thermostat Recycling.
7 – Asbestos
Asbestos is no longer commonly used in buildings, but is still found in older structures. It can be very dangerous if inhaled. Asbestos should only be removed by professionals – you are safer leaving it alone than removing it yourself. Contact a local professional asbestos contractor or your local Health Department for more information.
If you are looking for more information about hazardous material, check out the EPA website or ask a local health organization.
Mike Zook has been writing about environmental issues for many years. Mike’s passions include wetland protection, air purification and spill containment systems, which he writes about to raise awareness. Click here for more info.